Elisha Nolan believes that access and inclusion are matters of social justice.
“Everyone deserves the dignity of risk, meaning the opportunity to try things and fail or to have the same lifestyle that others have even if that involves a certain degree of risk,” said the owner/operator of the Alter House Restaurant in Clarks Summit.
Being the daughter of a chef and waitress, and growing up in the industry from such a young age made Nolan see all its faults first hand including long hours away from family, working holidays etc. and she knew a change had to be made and took as her responsibility to make it happen. “I knew I could not make a huge impact with just our one small restaurant, but I do hope I’ve done my part to change the minds of those within our four walls,” she explains.
Diagnosed as a young teen with a very rare disease, Tenosynovial giant cell tumor (TGCT)., the young woman has endured years of surgeries, coming close to losing her life itself until she opted for an above the knee amputation in 2012 at the young age of 29 that would finally give her the chance to be in control of the events that would Alter her life.
In April of 2018, she and her husband began their dream opening Alter House Restaurant. “We have currently developed relationships with over 40 local farmers and purveyors to ensure we are not only supporting our community but also providing our guests with the highest quality Ingredients,” she noted.
Having a mentor has been difficult says the restaurant owner because she has never met anyone traveling a path similar to her own. “I am not trying to find the life I want to live in someone else, I’m trying to alter the life I want to build,” she acknowledges.
Nolan attributes her success to the pain and stubbornness she has experienced in fighting for her life, having entered an operating room over 40 times, experiencing medical setbacks, re-learning to walk, carrying a 13lb prosthesis every day, and fighting to live a “normal” life has certainly been the foundation for any success she have achieved.
The young woman feels blessed every day to have the support of her husband and co-owner of Alter House, Patrick Nolan, and their son and team member at Alter House, Paxton Nolan, along with her immediate family and close friends.
Nolan is an adaptive athlete who has trained and competed in able bodied powerlifting competitions. She took first place wins as AK (Above the Knee) amputee and trained boxer.
She is a CPV (Certified Peer Visitor) and has sat on the board of directors of local nonprofits dedicated to enrich the lives of individuals with mobility impairments.
As a patient advocate in the local medical community, she is a motivational speaker aiding in the fight for equal rights in the workforce. She has been privileged to mentor new amputees. She has helped develop and implement some of NEPA’s first amputee support groups and peer visiting certifications, and because of that passion, it was important for her to see Alter House built to be 100 percent handicap accessible.
Alter House has been honored for best restaurant, best wine bar, best martini bar, best service, best farm to table restaurant and both owners were named NEPA Business Journal Top 20 under 40.