New Main Street Restaurant Proving Popular Spot
NORTH ADAMS — The Hub's only been in business for a little over a week but the restaurant's owners are already laying the foundation to become a downtown mainstay.
"We want to be here forever," said Kate Schilling, who owns the new Main Street restaurant with husband Matthew Schilling. "Everyone keeps saying this is exactly what North Adams needs and we're going to do whatever it takes to make it work."
With a completely renovated interior and a menu that offers something for everyone, Schilling hopes the eatery at 55 Main St. will be a destination for local diners and tourists alike.
"We want to cater to everyone. I want this to be the place to go when you come to North Adams but on the other hand, the biggest thing I wanted with this restaurant was to see the same faces over and over again," said Schilling, who has been managing the business since its May 3 opening.
The Schillings took over the former Milan at 55 Main Restaurant and Bar after owner John "Jack" Carlow abruptly closed it at the end of January. It had also been the site of the Capitol Restaurant, a longtime favorite of the lunch crowd in previous decades.
The Hub — named for a popular eatery that operated downtown in the 1950s — seeks to offer comfortable, casual dining with "good food, good atmosphere, good service, at a good price."
"This has been our dream. We're restaurant people. We always used to say 'If I had my own place, I'd do things differently.' So, one day we just got to thinking about it and it just — bang! — happened. It all happened so fast but the idea and the menu were already engrained in us. We just knew," Schilling said.
Boasting a menu of homemade dishes complemented by a full bar, The Hub offers both dine-in and takeout options, along with a complete breakfast menu on the weekend. The Schillings, who most recently worked at the '6 House Pub at the 1896 House in Williamstown, hope their new business will help draw people to Main Street after dark.
Though the pair are practically permanent fixtures at the new venture — Kate's the manager and Matt's the chef — the Schillings hope to eventually have enough staff to operate without their constant presence.
"I mean, I'm tired because I'm here all the time but I also want to be here all the time. Customers like to come in and see that the owners are an active part of what's here," said Schilling.
Since opening at the beginning of the month, The Hub has already seen hundreds of curious customers who are quickly becoming regulars. Whether it's spicy jambalaya (a favorite), a 10-ounce steak or "grown-up grilled cheese," the food, at fair prices, is drawing people in.
"I would absolutely say we've been successful but every new restaurant has a honeymoon phase. My goal is make sure that never ends," said Schilling, who went through 200 takeout menus in less than two weeks. "We've really got to prove ourselves in the beginning and win people over. Hopefully, even in the dead of winter, people will want to snowshoe down to The Hub."
During the space's renovations, the Schillings transformed the restaurant from a "dark, cold, gloomy" place to a hotspot for both the casual lone diner or a group of festive revelers. The walls, which are covered in historic photographs of a bustling downtown, are painted a soft yellow and vibrant red to give the restaurant a more "homey" feel.
Opening a new business just before the Berkshires' typical busy season isn't without its challenges, said Schilling.
"There's always kinks to work out," she said.
The Hub's first (and only major) challenge has resulted in putting a stop to takeout orders between noon and 1, because of the lunch rush.
"We want people to be able to come in on their lunch break and have a half-hour lunch from the time they come in until when they pay. And we just can't make that happen right now while taking orders for takeout," Schilling said.
She plans to be able to offer takeout again soon.
Calling starting a business in these economically insecure times "scary," Schilling said she and her husband are ready to face obstacles head-on.
"They say the economy is bad right now but hopefully, people will always want to go out to eat," she said. "We have a lot of experience in this industry and that's why we can make this work."
The Hub is open Tuesday through Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. On Saturday and Sunday, breakfast begins at 7 but the restaurant closes at 2 on Sunday afternoons. For takeout orders, call 662-2500 — except during the lunch rush.