By Kyle Mooty
Much like the owner’s famous cheesecakes, Fields Stable Antiques continues to add to its great reputation as an assortment of treats for treasure hunters.
The Lockhart business has been in business for 11 years, withstood the worst the COVID-19 pandemic had to offer, maintained its employees, but continues to thrive, while serving delicious treats, especially a variety of cakes at Karen Cernoch’s homemade cheese that she makes for visitors to 118 N. Main Street during monthly First Friday events.
For a store where everything from furniture, trinkets, clothing, fishing gear, ceramics, copper, bronze and more make up her collection, it’s the food she brings in each month that has flocking in his store.
“I started making cheesecakes in this building 10 years ago,” Cernoch said. “I started with two cheesecakes, now I have 13. I wanted to give appreciation to our customers. Without them, I wouldn’t be open. It’s not enough to get them in. I want them back. That’s why I decided to make cheesecakes.
Originally from the Boston area of Massachusetts, Karen and her military husband, Mike Cenoch, were stationed in different places, including Hawaii. Working as an accountant in Hawaii, Cernoch said whenever the company had a function, he would be asked to make his cheesecake. Once she told her boss she wanted to try something else and her boss replied, “You’re making cheesecake.”
Cernoch had antiques in his blood, having grown up with a mother who had such a store. Even his father dealt in vintage cars.
“I’ve been doing this kind of business all my life,” she says. “The whole family grew up with it. My two older brothers had a store. My sister had a store. My little brother had a store. I had never lived in one place long enough to have a store, even though I was renting space and such. I did that in Maryland.
“Then one day my husband said to me, ‘I think I want to go home.’ I looked at him and said, ‘Mike, are you feeling okay?’ ‘I have to tell you, not once in my life have I thought to myself that I wanted to move to Texas.'”
Mike Cernoch was originally from Corpus Christi. He planned a trip for him and Karen so he could show her Texas.
“We checked out Wimberley and San Marcos and a real estate agent told us all about Lockhart and how many people came for the barbecue,” Karen Cernoch said. “She kept saying, ‘Don’t neglect Lockhart.
One day the Cernochs drove to Lockhart and looked around.
“We didn’t have a house or anything yet, but we rented a building that used to be the Quirky Bird,” Karen recalls. “I rented it for storage. My husband and son drove here and had 500 boxes. The second group arrived when I moved here.
At first, Fields Stable Antiques only had Cernochs’ new neighbors as customers. Some asked what the two closing days would be.
“It totally amazed me,” Cernoch said. “I tell myself that I am trying to open, why would I think of closing. I just told them I would be opening seven days a week to start and as soon as I could find out two days to close, I would close. Eleven years and I haven’t found two days to close.
“I learned from watching the traffic here that BBQ places are open seven days a week. I spoke to someone at another company and they told me on Sunday they never had anything to do. Well, my Sundays are really good. So, I’ve been open seven days since. Some days I take off in the morning, but I’m there in the afternoon. My birthday was the other day and I said I was going to be gone all day. I left that morning, but came back and worked all afternoon.
Even the early days of the pandemic could not stop Cernoch. It closed for a month but brought in its two employees as usual to clean up. The store reopened on May 1, 2020, and although business was slow at first, it quickly became business as usual.
“I had no problems,” she said. “We were closed for a few days when we encountered snow and ice.”
Fields Stable Antiques does not focus on one product style. Cernoch said the store always has different merchandise to offer.
The 9,000-square-foot facility contains much of Cernoch’s business as well as items from 14 vendors who rent 10-by-10-foot spaces.
Among the more unique items, Fields Stable Antiques included an early 1900s lamp from Moorish Spain. He reserves up to $12,500, but that’s not what Cernoch is asking for. Also, at one point there was a 1930s radio for sale that needed to warm up after being turned on, but it worked nonetheless. “It sold well,” Cernoch said.
“Every day of every week of every month is different. I sell a lot of jewelry, I sell a lot of fragile items, I sell a lot of furniture, a lot of china, china, brass, copper, cast aluminum, cast iron, rod iron. Some things, the more rust the better. They are like people. I sell old tools.
Cernoch said she was “68” and “the youngest 68 year old you will ever meet”.
The only month she doesn’t supply her sought-after cheesecakes is December, and even then she bakes sweets for customers.
Regulars are so accustomed to Cernoch’s sarcasm that they have brought him a slew of signs regarding his sarcastic ways that adorn the walls of the store around the main counter. Cheesecake and treasures even make sarcasm a special moment.