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For the past few years, a Subway at 520 Main Street served workers downtown as well as nearby residents. It closed last year for a variety of reasons.
By the end of the year if all goes well, in the same space, a breakfast and lunch eatery, The Maple Table, will take its place.
Owners Tamara and Tony LoPiparo of Caledonia had been searching for a place to open their breakfast-lunch eatery. They were surprised to find the space empty on one of their walks around Racine.
The space that opens out to Monument Square had been a food court concept, with Subway being the last to operate in the long space that also offers a rear entry. At the time the LoPiparos took it on, it still looked like a Subway.
Today, the space is in the middle of a ceiling-to-floor makeover. Literally. Last week, Tony had been busy painting the ceiling a flat black, and work on cleaning up the terrazzo floor is next on the agenda. Old walls were taken down, new walls are going up.
The couple have reworked their original plans, to a certain extent, to take advantage of the size and layout of the building. “We redesigned the concept (based on this space), so the front left of the building will be a grab-and-go area,” said Tamara. “There will be a merchandiser cooler where people will be able to get drinks and sandwiches, salads. We will have an open area with coffee cakes and pastries. If you don’t have time to come in and eat, you will still be able to enjoy some of the things we make.”
Family time shaped their plans, too
The couple have worked second shift restaurant jobs most of their careers, including working at Tony’s father’s restaurant, That’s Amore in Franklin, where he had been general manager.
“We’ve been working second shift most of our lives, so what motivated us even a little more than being able to spend time with our little ones is the chance to trail-blaze on a concept that is gaining more and more momentum,” said Tamara. “The breakfast-lunch restaurant trend is really taking off.”
The couple believe they are taking the right path, when they see similar restaurants in Milwaukee and Chicago with crowds willing to wait in line—sometimes for up to two hours—to get a table.
Delivery, especially to areas in and around downtown is planned, as is curbside pick-up in the rear. “We are going to do larger group catering,” Tamara added. “Anything we can do to help people save time and eat well and eat something good.”
The name of the restaurant, The Maple Table, is a reference to both the farm of Tamara’s grandmother, which had many Maple trees. It is also a reference to a desire to serve as much farm-to-table food as possible.
“We’re not going to be 100 percent farm-to-table, but as much as we can do in a fiscally responsible way,” said Tamara. “We are open to partnering with farms in the area. Because they, too, deserve a chance.
“Eggs, dairy…we will use non-GMO and organic whenever possible. We’ll also take gluten and non-dairy into consideration. All our waffles and pancakes will be available gluten-free. People are watching what they eat.” The couple promise they are going to offer “classic breakfast favorites, but there will also be fun, trendy stuff.” A signature breakfast dish will be named via a contest
For the renovation, the couple have been reaching out to local contractors. “Everything we can, we want to do local, to drive more money into the local economy,” said Tamara.