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WORD OF MOUTH


SUE GLEITER

 

ONCE A BANK BUILDING, CAFÉ IN MIDDLETOWN DRAWS INTEREST

 

Customers are flocking to Middletown' newest eatery, curious about what's become of a town landmark.

 

A new cafe-style restaurant has moved into a building that for more than 100 years housed a string of different banks. The Brownstone Cafe marks the first time a business other than a bank has occupied the 1 N. Union St. address which is registered with the Middletown Historic Society.

 

"A lot of people come in here because they used to bank here years and years ago," said manager Nick Taddeo.  "Before we opened the doors, we had hundreds of people who wanted to tour the place."

 

Owners Keith and Carole Matinchek bought the three-story building, named after its brownstone exterior, last year from CoreStates Bank.  The Philadelphia-based bank closed the branch more than a year ago.

 

As part of the purchase, the Middletown couple inherited all of the bank's accessories - the original vault, a safe, a long customer counter and lock boxes - most of which they incorporated into the decor.

 

The safe sits in the restaurants front, old black and white photographs of the bank hang on a nearby wall, coffee pots percolate on a table made from lock boxes while the vault's door remains on its hinges.

 

A renovation project transformed the spacious first floor into a 90-seat eatery sectioned off by a nearly ceiling-high island decorated with white lights, grapevines and plants.  Patrons sit at the tables or cushy booths as light filters in from large windows.  An upstairs balcony can accommodate 50 more patrons for overflow or private parties.

 

Taddeo said the facility combines elements of several popular restaurants.  "It's like three or four restaurants rolled into one," he said.  "It's not designed for any one thing."

 

Brownstone serves breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week.  The menu sticks to basic American food combining traditional dishes such as crab-cake sandwiches, open-faced hot turkey, haddock and filet mignon with updated entrees including chicken stir fry, steak or chicken quesadillas and signature dish, Brownstone penne, made from fresh vegetables sautéed in garlic and olive oil and served on penne pasta.

 

Breakfast fare includes burritos, Balboa French toast, creamed chip beef on toast, or a steak and egg combo.  At request, omelets will be made with Eggbeater substitute.

 

The average price of a dinner entree is about $7, but prices range from $1.50 for soup to $14.95 for filet mignon.

 

Brownstone does not own a liquor license, but customers may bring their own wine.  Parking is available in a lot behind the restaurant and along the street.

 

The restaurant is open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.