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Main Streets Market & Cafe - VisitingNewEngland small business partnership

Talk of the Town: Main Streets Market & Cafe in Concord, Massachusetts

Main Streets Market and Cafe in Concord, Massachusetts
Charming restaurant: Main Streets Market & Cafe in Concord.

Article and photos, unless otherwise noted, by Eric Hurwitz. Article created on 1/28/2018.

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Have you ever been to a restaurant while on vacation that eventually becomes a main part of your travel memories year after year -- a place that seems as personally meaningful and satisfying as the area attractions?

In Concord, The Main Streets Market & Cafe is that place by offering wonderful food, drink and conversations at its historic location in the heart of downtown Concord, Mass. Concord, best known for its major role in the American Revolution and as a literary mecca for all those brilliant writers like Thoreau, Emerson, Hawthorne, and Alcott, stands as one of New England's most prettiest, quaint towns. With famous destinations like Walden Pond, the Concord Museum, Old North Bridge and five more miles of Revolutionary War history sites and attractions within the Minuteman National Historic Park's magnificent Battle Road Trail which it shares with Lexington, Concord is definitely an "A" list New England destination.

Old North Bridge, Concord, Massachusetts
Old North Bridge, Concord.

Surprisingly, Concord, as a major tourist destination, has a shortage of restaurants that caters to all walks of life -- that is, a "local," independently-owned dining spot with a big menu and quality food at reasonable prices.  The dining out trend has either gone toward the upscale or chains when it seems like most people would be satisfied with options ranging from pancakes and burgers to pot roast and Atlantic salmon.

The Main Streets Market & Cafe solves that problem, coming across like the restaurant version of a boxed set greatest hits collection by offering so much under one roof. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner and also offer a variety of regular coffees, special blends, espresso and lattes, a bakery, full bar with 12 beers on tap (almost all craft beers are from New England) and great wine menu, live music at night and
a separate ice cream and burrito bar.

It's really good fare done right as they source locally whenever possible -- fruits and vegetables are grown at their family farm right down the road in Concord -- while making virtually all baked goods in house.

Cupcakes from Main Streets Market and Cafe in Concord, Massachusetts.
Red velvet cupcakes at the Main Streets Market & Cafe.

The historic brick building with the cozy interior featuring handsome wood floors, brick walls and a bar top from the original Boston Garden makes the experience all that more appealing and inviting -- the exact type of dining spot one would expect to find in colonial Concord.  Also, there are two retail treasures upstairs owned by hard-working businesswomen: Nesting showcasing antiques and collectibles, and Muses Window with "made in the USA" handcrafted items.

Additionally, the side of the building at the charming alleyway (the original dining area before the Main Street storefront opened as a restaurant in the early 2000s) features wooden benches, flower beds and a perfectly imperfect walkway framed by historic wooden and brick buildings. The alleyway feels like a peaceful oasis from busy Main St. and offers "sides" that wonderfully complement its dining room and bar around the corner by offering a smaller dining area for burritos, pizza, hot dogs, sandwiches, smoothies and ice cream. Benches, tables, a picnic area and a sunny indoor porch dining room by the scenic Milbrook make for a truly pleasant dining experience.

Main Streets Market alleyway in Concord, Massachusetts
The alleyway at Main Streets Market & Cafe.

We have all heard a phrase that goes something to the effect of "Go where the locals go." Well, this is where the locals go and that should be a cue to visitors in town. Husband and wife and owners Dave and Karen Anderson have deep ties to the town, which fosters many meaningful relationships between them and townsfolk. From knitting and bicycle groups to townies and tourists, it's like an unofficial community meeting place at the Main Streets Market & Cafe.

"The tourists are so cool, but what's most exciting to see are the multi generations here," said Karen. "You have people in their 80s that talk about how they came here as kids. Some of the stories they tell!"

Dave and Karen Anderson, owners of the Main Streets Market and Cafe in Concord, Mass.
Dave and Karen Anderson, owners of Main Streets Market & Cafe.

Those stories told, the general conversations and the familiar faces all comprise a scene that looks like something out of a movie set in a picture-perfect small town. It's the ultimate Main Street tavern atmosphere, but not the kind with worn rugs, pool tables and Skynyrd playing on the jukebox. It's more of a classic, colonial tavern atmosphere where one could picture spirited folk raising a beer for a toast and a few hearty laughs over some really good grub. The real-life, daily scenes are often priceless and offer hope that family and overall community can still come together in the 21st century without depending on a chain store or restaurant, or relying on cell phones and lap tops to have a good time.

Bar at the Main Streets Market and Cafe in Concord, Mass.
The bar top at the Main Streets Market & Cafe is from the old Boston Garden.

Speaking of cell phone and laptops, Dave and Karen discourage such use and have set a policy for customers to refrain from being tethered to technology. In fact, it's written on the walls!

No cell phone or laptop use at the Main Streets Market and Cafe in Concord, Massachusetts!
Cell phone and lap top use is discouraged at the Main Streets Market & Cafe.

"We had one lady who got very upset and started yelling and throwing her food in the trash," said Karen, about the cell phone and laptop policy. "She settled down eventually. But most people are good about it. We try to create an atmosphere where people converse. We want people to talk with people, not technology."

"We like to say, 'No laptops or cellphones -- restaurant in use,'" said Dave, with a smile. "We do prioritize live conversation as we are more of a traditional 'publick' house or tavern type of place. We do try to accommodate everyone, however, so we will have a designated area for cell phones and laptops, but it will be isolated."

Conversations have been going on for many generations at this location for more than 100 years. Dave and Karen are the fourth generation of the Anderson family to own the building as a food destination. A fifth and sixth generation can also be seen working at the restaurant. Two of Dave's sisters, Beverly and Janice, are long-time employees at the restaurant.
 
"It's amazing to have from the same address, the same doors for a food business that has run without interruption since the early 1900s," said Karen.

The location took on legendary local status for the first three generations as Anderson's Market, but actually possesses even more history than its run as a place for food. The original building dates back to colonial days housing a gristmill storing ammunition during the Reolutionary War, and later, a hatter's shop, a watch and clock repair shop, a milliner, tinsmith, a barber and others, according to an article on the Concord Free Public Library web site. Toward the end of the 19th century, the property became a grocery store. Norwegian immigrant Lars Anderson bought the store in 1913 and had significant upgrades made to this cornerstone store in the 1930s.

"It's a destination," said Dave, a descendant of one of the first 13 families to settle in Concord. "We are a piece of history in Concord."

The building has been marvelously maintained and upgraded, proudly showcasing its beautiful template without much compromise...

A rendition from yesteryear...

Anderson market building, Concord MA
Photo source: Concord Free Public Library web site.

And today with the Main Streets Market and Cafe operating its expanded Main Street restaurant since the early 2000s...

Main Streets Cafe in Concord MA during Patriots Day.
Revolutionary War reenactment in front of Main Streets Market & Cafe. Photo source: Main Streets Market & Cafe Facebook fan page.

It's also a fabulous place to reflect on things while looking out the sunny windows onto the pulse of vibrant Main St....

Window seat at the Main Streets Market and Cafe in Concord, Massachusetts.
Window table at Main Streets Market & Cafe.

The food could stand on its own to draw customers. Staples like paninis, beef chili with roasted butternut squash (unique and delicious!), the Concord Tomato Pesto sandwich that includes fresh mozzarella on Ciabatta bread, and the Turkey/Cranberry Wrap with house roasted turkey, cornbread stuffing, baby spinach, orange cranberry sauce and mayo remain just as popular as when the restaurant first opened.

Turkey/Cranberry Wrap from the Main Streets Cafe in Concord, Mass.
Turkey/Cranberry Wrap from Main Streets Market & Cafe.

As expected, the Main Streets Market & Cafe serves many "Yankee Fare" or local dishes like pot roast, various stews, New England clam chowder, New England-style crab cakes, fried calamari, lobster rolls, lobster grilled cheese, fish and chips and a fried clam roll, while also covering more universal favorites like mac and cheese, burgers, flatbread pizza, onion rings and fresh salads (the produce is superb coming from the Anderson's farm).

Fried clams for the Main Streets Market and Cafe in Concord MA
Fried clam roll, fries and ice cold beer from Main Streets Market & Cafe. Photo source: Main Streets Market & Cafe Facebook fan page.

Upscale dishes and trending favorites are offered, too, like Thai chicken lettuce wraps, noodle bowls, acai sorbet bowls, Avocado toast mashed over toasted wheatberry with sliced tomato, two sunnyside eggs, crumbled feta cheese, fresh pea shoots, cilantro and pumpkin.

Avocado toast from the Main Streets Market and Cafe in Concord, Mass.
Avocado toast from Main Streets Market & Cafe. Photo source: Main Streets Market & Cafe Facebook fan page.

The music scene taps into local talent and adds another dimension to the Cafe, according to Karen.

"People love to play here," said Karen. "They really love to be here. The musicians say it is their favorite place to play... And women who are single can come in here to listen to some music and feel safe."

How nice to have a go-to, Main Street restaurant appealing to all ages operated by on site owners. As the sixth generation of family gets ready to further help this likable mom and pop business, the hope is that the indpendent Main Streets Market and Cafe continues to evolve in a big-box chain world. Concord has done an admirable job in keeping the downtown run mostly by independent businesses. As 17-year-old Connecticut resident Abigail Dustin stated so well in a letter to the Concord Planning Board: "All I know is that Concord is a wonderful place that has managed to stay away from the craze of most chain stores that have taken up residence in so many local towns, and, for this reason, it is beautiful and unique."

No doubt that the Main Streets Market and Cafe is part of that fabric that makes Concord so special. The good news is that this tavern of sorts, packs in the crowds at any given time of the day. May that grand tradition thrive in regards to serving food to locals and travelers alike, who create Concord memories here every day!

Main Streets Market and Cafe, Concord, Massachusetts
Delightful, welcoming storefront: Main Streets Market & Cafe.

Main Streets Market and Cafe is located at 42 Main St. in Concord MA. Tel. (866) 413-3981 or (978) 369-9948. Web site: http://www.mainstreetsmarketandcafe.com. Facebook fan page: https://www.facebook.com/mainstreetscafe/?ref=br_rs. Twitter page: https://twitter.com/mainstreetscafe. Main Streets Cafe Virtual Tour: https://my.matterport.com/show/?m=8Hn5SvFHBCp

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