Remember when Off Center Cafe was a popular, funky, neighborhood joint? "Want to meet at Off Center?", was an invitation I heard often when we moved here in the 90's.
Loyal customers ignored the cracks in the plaster, the rips in the booth upholstery and having to pay with cash only, because where else could you enjoy tasty fried oysters, orange date bread or "Bibble and Squib" for breakfast. Somewhere along the way, family changes caused lack of cleanliness and poor service to be a problem. A daughter took over and applied some elbow grease, but (for whatever reasons) couldn't bring enough regulars back to keep it going.
A few other owners came and went. Each one applying some paint and sweat equity to make the space in the old building more appealing. Of course, it takes more than paint and cleaning to bring people back to a restaurant they associate with a negative experience. It takes a steady focus on the product, regular hours, warm welcomes and excellent service--ALL of the time.
If my experience this morning is any indication, Off Center's latest rebirth is a good one. The menu is well thought out and brief, the cozy interior sparkles, the welcome is warm and our coffee cups never empty.
|Corned Beef Hash|
The Corned Beef Hash was my breakfast. The hot potatoes were moist, nicely seasoned and had those crispy, delicious, bits of fond from the grill. The corned beef was amazingly tender and each bite melted in my mouth. I opted for the herbed biscuit. It arrived pre-halved and buttered--and packed with herby flavors. My friend had only praise for her order of Patty's Scramble.
Salemites, it's time to shake off those negative memories and give the new folks a try. Let us know how your experience was--especially if you try "Big Al's Reuben". Won't be hard to talk N into trying that sandwich!
Patty's Off Center Cafe
(link above to FB page, menu available in photos)
1741 Center St NE,
8 am - 3 pm Sundays
Tuesdays-Saturday 6 am - 2 pm