Zac Jenkins is ready to serve at Main Street Cafe in Jonesborough.

By ALLEN RAU

Staff Writer

arau@heraldandtribune.com

Anyone craving a Pork Chorizo burger on Friday or Saturday night that happens to be wandering in downtown Jonesborough will soon get their wish.

Main Street Café, which currently is open for lunch only, will stay open on Friday and Saturday nights until 8 p.m. beginning May 4.

According to the restaurant owner Zac Jenkins, “Not only is Jonesborough ready for us to be open in the evening, but they’re beating down my door to have it done.

“A lot of people, the Eureka Hotel, the bed and breakfast’s in the area, they said their number one issue with people coming in … they say ’Your town is beautiful, we love it, there’s stuff to do, but there’s nowhere to eat downtown.’”

Jenkins purchased the café from his parents, Beverly and Herman Jenkins, in May 2015.

The elder Jenkins’ originally opened Main Street Café as a kitchenware store called Village Cupboard in 1982 at the location where the Corner Cup now resides. After selling only pots and pans for roughly six months, they opened a sandwich counter to cater to the lunch crowd. The Jenkins’ bought the old post office building in 1987 and moved the restaurant to its current location.

“My parents attempted 15 years ago — tried staying open at night for a small time, two or three months. It was unsuccessful,” Jenkins said.  “Jonesborough has changed tremendously in the last 15 years.”

After being lobbied by locals to open the café in the evenings, Jenkins said he and his wife, Kati, had actually planned to begin offering dinner service before this year.

“All the locals have asked me since I’ve started … residents have asked me specifically ‘We really want you to stay open.’

“We were going to do it last year but my wife got pregnant and it was just not the right time.”

Jenkins attended a culinary program called “Gastronomicom” in southern France that lasted eight months, where some of his fellow students turned into Michelin Star chefs.

According to Jenkins, the first four months of the program involved cooking classes and learning to speak French. The final four months were an internship based upon your performance and ability.

He said he has no interest in serving extravagant meals, although some of the meals he and his wife are planning to serve sound downright delicious.

“Opening night Friday (May 4), we’re going to have a Pork Chorizo burger. Ground pork with Chorizo sausage. It’ll have caramelized red onion, roasted red pepper, green olives, lemon mayonnaise, and it’ll come on a glossy burger bun,” Jenkins said.

“And it will be with double-fried, hand-cut French fries with Cajun curry rub on it and roasted Brussels sprouts with Parmesan cheese. That’ll be one of our specials that night. We’re (also) going to do meatloaf that night.”

Jenkins also realized that serving dinner will not be the same as serving the lunch crowd so he and his wife plan to keep the regular menus similar.

“Again, we’re getting our feet wet so we’re going to keep the menu the same,” he said.  “In the evening we’ll have specials. One of them will be something that’s kind of quick and easy that we can get people in and out. Or even a to-go order so they can get down to ‘Music on the Square.’ Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans. Those are things I can just go boom-boom-boom and get people out.”

Jenkins continued, “I want to have an option for people to just be able to get-in, get-out and they can sit in their chair and cut the meatloaf with a fork, no big deal.”

While the Main Street Café has not been open for dinner, Jenkins said he has kept his doors open after normal closing hours to give patrons a better experience.

“People appreciate that, people from out of town. They remember that. Part of your experience when you travel is eating. I like people to say ‘Jonesborough, it was adorable and this nice young man stayed open for us’  … I always try to go the extra step to make people enjoy my restaurant because they enjoy the town, their experience, and they want to come back or tell a friend. (Jonesborough is) heavily based on tourism. We need them to have a good experience.”

According to Jenkins, the café offers beer and wine and will begin serving gelato, or Italian ice cream, in early May.

With a seven month old son, Harrison, at home and his wife, Kati, returning to work full-time on May 2, Jenkins believes a successful expansion will benefit his family life.

“Our ultimate goal is to be successful enough that we can get some good help to be able to take a little more time off to spend with our family.” 

Beginning May 4, Main Street Café will be open from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday until the end of Oct.  Jenkins added that extending evening service to Thursday nights is possible if all goes well.

Main Street Café is located at 117 W. Main St. and can be reached at (423) 753-2460.