NEWBURYPORT -- If it’s true that the third time is a charm, restaurateurs John Coley and Justin Radulski could be in for a good (repeat) run at Middle Street Foods.
The once-popular eatery re-opened late last week in the 25 Middle St. space that formerly operated as Stella’s. It is the third time in recent years that the café has made a “debut” there.
The veteran co-owners are intent on once again bringing people together in a comfortable social setting – a potential meld of Facebook and Cheers.
“It’s great to be back, but I’ve been a little nervous that former customers will have such high expectations,” said Coyle, a Rowley native who handles much of the baking and back-shop food preparation.
“Some former customers have their personal mythologies about this place, or special memories of who they met here. Still, we are very happy to have the café going again.”
Middle Street Foods started in 1984 by Meg Degive, who owned the building. She is not active in today’s restaurant, but Coyle nevertheless describes her as their “spiritual advisor.”
It operated until the late-’90s when restaurant managers from Nantucket took it over for a couple years. They left, and Middle Street Foods returned with Coley and Radulski in active roles.
“I guess Newburyport wasn’t Nantucket enough,” observed Coyle.
Coyle and Radulski left about 2004, and the space was eventually turned into the eatery, Stella’s. When the restaurant closed last year, the Coyle-Radulski team began making plans to re-open Middle Street Foods. They refurbished the first-floor venue over the winter.
Since its opening, customers have been trickling back.
“I’m glad we have Middle Street Foods back,” said Tammy Bottner, a former customer who ate there recently. “My friend texted this morning about lunch, and we were both pleased that we could meet at the cafe again.”