September 2007

Main Street Cafe & Pub

Author: Linda S. Hopkins

Where Food Gets Friendly with the Family

If you’re looking for foie gras, white tablecloths and tuxedo-clad waiters, don’t go to Main Street Café and Pub. But when your appetite calls for real food, creatively prepared and fairly priced in an unpretentious atmosphere, make a beeline to the corner café and prepare to be delighted.

“We try to concentrate on quality food and quality service, and we’re not trying to beat up the customer on price,” said managing partner, John Roppelt, pointing out the New York Strip steak on the menu for $22.95, including a house salad and fresh bread.

The popular Main Street eatery is no stranger to islanders who stop in regularly with family, friends and business associates. One look at the menu, and it’s easy to see why the locals keep coming back for more.

Lunch offerings include an eclectic group of appetizers, such as fried green tomatoes, crab cakes, calamari and wings; several homemade soups; ten salad entrées; a variety of hot and cold sandwich selections; and a few Mexican favorites. Dinner includes all of the same choices plus an array of entrées to include beef, veal and, of course, seafood, attractively priced from $16-$20. And that’s not to mention the nightly specials and a number of child-friendly options.

Menu makeover
According to Executive Chef, Aaron Glugover, who partnered up with Roppelt nine years ago, the café had never had a real chef before. Although he kept some of the existing menu items, over time, he has tweaked them to make them his own. “I changed the recipes—made it a little more upscale, but still with a comfort feel,” he said. For example, an ordinary tuna melt on rye evolved into a crab salad melt—same concept, just a fresher approach.

Although he never attended culinary school, Glugover brings twenty years of cooking experience to Main Street Café. He received most of his training in Asheville, NC, where he was “discovered” while working as a line cook. “I met a guy who opened up his own place. He said, ‘You have a knack, if you really want to learn to cook,’” said Glugover. “He took me under his wing and taught me how to make stuff—not just execute.”

“Aaron prides himself on originality and his ability to create something different every day,” said Roppelt, extolling the nightly specials and creative soups.

According to Roppelt, Glugover has about 350 soups in his repertoire. The soup of the day really is the soup of the day—depending on what ingredients are on hand and how the chef chooses to combine them. One thing is certain: you won’t find any soup cans in the kitchen.

“I don’t really have anything written down,” said Glugover. “The way I was taught, soups are the way to move the extra stuff out of the kitchen. When I walk in there, I don’t really have a plan. If I have artichokes, it will be artichokes and something. If I have extra tomatoes, it’s going to be a tomato soup.”

An atmosphere of comfort
While there is no view to speak of, there’s just something about “Main Street” that’s like a home away from home. When Roppelt and Glugover took over the Main Street Café, they gave it a face lift with the idea in mind to create an atmosphere with a hometown feel. Encouraging patrons to bring in photos of their favorite Main Street settings, they framed and hung them alongside a collection of café scenes.

Customers have four seating options, including umbrella tables on the porch, the main dining room, the TV room, and the bar, allowing everyone to find his or her own comfort zone.

This pub’s for you
When asked how they manage to successfully incorporate their pub business with a family atmosphere, Roppelt said, “We’re a restaurant first and then a bar. The pub is a place where you come in for a cocktail and feel comfortable, not the kind of place where people come to get smashed. It’s a friendly atmosphere, and nobody curses. We don’t allow it.”

Loyal pub patrons return again and again, thanks to beloved bartender, Joe Murphy, best known as “Murphy.”

“He is an island bartending icon,” said Roppelt. “He’s friendly and remembers everybody’s name. And he always has a joke or a story to tell.”

Family connections
Prior to taking over Main Street Café and Pub, Roppelt was selling point-of-sale systems to restaurants. Meanwhile, Glugover and his wife, Sharon, were operating a fine-dining establishment in the Village at Wexford. When Roppelt came knocking, they let him in. But it was Glugover’s sister, Faith, who opened the window to his world.

“She and John were making goo-goo eyes at each other from day one,” said Glugover, who eventually gained a brother-in-law and business partner.

After getting a feel for the island, Glugover decided that fine-dining was not the ticket to his success. “There wasn’t enough year-round business, he said. “It had to be geared toward the locals and affordable for every day.”

Location and clientele made the Main Street Café a perfect opportunity for the two families to set down roots. According to Sharon, it is Aaron and Faith’s mom, Lillian, who technically owns the restaurant, but every family member is invested in its success.

Now that the restaurant is firmly established, John and Aaron have it under control. Faith operates another restaurant in Beaufort; and Sharon, with two little ones, is in fulltime mommy mode.

The Roppelts and Glugovers invite you to be a part of their family. Join them at the Main Street Café, Monday-Saturday from 11 a.m. until or on Sunday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Visit online at www.cafeatmain.com or call 843-689-3999 for more information. Dinner reservations are suggested, but not required; take out orders are always welcome.

Dinner on Main Street
By: Linda Hopkins

Lunch is a given at the Main Street Café and Pub—always fresh, delicious and fun. While the casual daytime menu is available at dinner as well, I found the evening additions intriguing and affordable.

While not extensive, the wine list was both practical and appropriate. I ordered a glass of a familiar favorite, Sonoma Cutrer chardonnay, while my dining companion chose the house merlot, taking advantage of the Tuesday night house wine special.

Torn between the fried green tomatoes and the blackened scallops to start, I went for the scallops. The combination of spices with the sweet, honey sauce was memorable, to say the least—a taste I will crave until I get back there to dive in again.

For my main entrée, the evening’s special rang my bell: a beautiful cut of tuna, grilled to order and served atop a mound of fettuccine in a sun-dried tomato sauce. If God were a chef, this might be his signature dish. Yes, it was that heavenly.

My friend is watching her waistline, so she managed to refrain from the appetizers. She asked if she could have one of the signature dishes—the parmesan encrusted sea trout—served over pasta instead of with its usual accompaniments. The chef was happy to accommodate her special request, and judging from her completely clean plate, it must have been delicious.

Because I have no sense of restraint when it comes to sweets, I was obliged to order dessert. Doing my calorie-conscious friend a favor, I quickly devoured every bite of the chocolate, hazelnut crème brûlée while she sipped a cup of coffee.

I left feeling a little fatter but a lot happier. All in all, it was a relaxing meal in a pleasant atmosphere. What more could you want?

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