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Quahog Republic's Captain's Den - VisitingNewEngland small business partnership

Quahog Republic's Captain's Den Lands in Plymouth, Massachusetts

Quahog republic's Captains' Den in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Quahog Republic's Captain's Den on Main St. in Plymouth.

Article and photos, unless otherwise noted, by Eric Hurwitz. Article created on 11/7/17.

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Some seafood restaurants are just a shell of themselves by relying on past reputation rather than keeping standards high, but not Quahog Republic.

Quahog Republic has drawn in faithful, dedicated crowds through the years at its Onset, Falmouth and New Bedford locations with, for starters, its incredible raw bar, lobster rolls, chowder, creative over-the-top drink selections, good value for the money, and, most importantly, a steadfast business and customer mission to "Live, Give and Relax" (more on that shortly).
Recently, co-owners Erik Bevans and Tom Hughes opened a fourth location -- Quahog Republic's Captain's Den -- in the heart of historic Plymouth on Main St.  Formerly a long-established Persey's Place location (breakfast destination), Quahog Republic moved in and created a masterful restaurant makeover including wood floors replacing runner carpets, brick walls displacing paneling throughout the restaurant, hanging lights providing warm ambiance, high-top tables, and a beautiful long, horseshoe-shaped wood-block bar serving as the visual centerpiece.

Quahog Republic's Captain's Den in Plymouth, Mass.
The attractive bar at Quahog Republic in Plymouth.

And for those that miss Persy's Place, good news: The bacon on the menu remains, but, like the Plymouth Quahog Republic, has a new location -- in this case, reappearing in a Bloody Mary with sun dried tomato, whole garlic, roasted poblano pepper, olives and infused vodka...

Quahog Republic Bloody Mary with sundried tomato, elephant garlic, roasted poblano pepper, infused vodka and olives at the Quahog Republic's Captain's Den in Plymouth, Mass.

Quahog Republic Bloody Mary.

Quahog Republic's Captain's Den ultimately possesses good restaurant and business genes, therefore, setting the foundation for  customers to enjoy the pilgrimage to its Plymouth location. Bevans, 43, a restaurant industry pro and Cape Cod native, has spent many years perfecting the art and science of his craft and career -- generally working his tail off at restaurants going all the way back to childhood. As a restaurant career highlight prior to Quahog Republic, Bevans owned the former, highly-regarded Mashnee Island Grill and Beach Bar for 12 years in Buzzards Bay.

He, along with Hughes, spent many years growing up on Cape Cod digging for quahogs, fishing, boating, swimming, and genuinely enjoying the magic of Cape Cod where a sense of community was well above "C-Level" (sorry for the bad pun). The question is, how to
infuse a bit of that close-knit, friendly Cape Cod coastal spirit into a restaurant?

The answer: by serving delicious local seafood and great drinks, providing customers a place to find respite from a stressful world, experiencing a positive, "happy place" atmosphere, and giving back to the community. The owners, wait staff, customers and those doing business with Quahog Republic almost seem "as one" in the restaurant -- that is, the atmosphere naturally forces one to relax where the experience comes across like a community gathering, welcoming party and beloved, familiar hometown hangout.

"Everyone is treated the same here," said Bevans, who is also known as "Johnny Quahog." "You can be a customer who takes out the trash or be selling a million dollar internet company. It doesn't matter who you are, you are welcome here. We are more than a restaurant. We are a culture."

Tom Hughes and Erik Bevans, co-owners of Quahog Republic in Plymouth, Mass.
Tom Hughes and Erik Bevans, co-owners of Quahog Republic.

For a while, though, Bevans wondered about his specific career direction. After the Mashnee Island Grille and Beach Bar closed, Bevans aimed to open a restaurant "with an engaging family environment that also happens to sell drinks" He came up with the name Quahog Nation as a possible business, but the Quahog Republic name was actually born in the most unlikely place: posh, leafy, landlocked Brookline, Mass.

"One night, I was talking to the owner of the Washington Square Tavern in Brookline and wondered what would it be like for a bunch of quahogs to get along," said Bevans. "I said it would be like a 'quahog nation' and he said, 'No, it would be more like a quahog republic.'"

Bevans kept that name to himself for three years, eventually realizing he "needed to jump on it. I thought, you need to live life to the fullest, give back to the community and relax, and I then decided to open a restaurant with that philosophy."

Bevans and Hughes met by chance met while digging quahogs at Cape Cod's Popponesset Bay and quickly formed a close friendship even though Bevans cringed every time Tom said the word "quahog." (pronounced co-hog), as stated on the Quahog Republic web site.. They opened the seasonal Quahog Republic in Onset across from Onset Beach in 2009, The Quahog Republic Dive Bar in Falmouth in 2010,  and the Quahog Republic Whaler's Tavern on the charming cobblestone North Water St. at the New Bedford Whaling District in 2015. Quahog Republic's presence soon became well-known with Bevans and Hughes never content to just to have "another restaurant."

"We are not your cookie cutter restaurant," said Hughes. "We have assimilated into the towns we have businesses in, and people seem to really love it."

"Some might compare us to the Conch Republic in the Keys (Florida), but that's just a party place," said Bevans. "We wanted a place kids could come with their parents, too. We are a family-friendly business."

The lobster roll is a great starting point when ordering from the Quahog Republic Plymouth menu. The small serving (pictured below) comes across as a large, and the large version would be an extra large if there was such a category. It's known as "The Monsta Lobster Roll," on the menu. Add some separate warm butter, Parmesan truffle fries and the meal is to die for...

Lobster roll with truffle Parmesan fries from Quahog Republic's Captain's Den in Plymouth, Mass.
Lobster roll from Quahog Republic.
 
"Lightly does it, don't shred it!" said Bevans, of the lobster roll. "Our lobster roll is all tail, claw and a little knuckle and and very little dressing. We serve ours on a buttered brioche bun. Sourcing is the hardest part because everyone is doing it (serving lobster rolls). Sourcing is a big challenge, but we do it right. People love our lobster roll."

The humongous fish and chips dinner takes on a different recipe route with its cornflake-almond batter, and the result is absolutely fabulous with the tender fish combined with the unusual breading. The perfectly-formed fries and homemade cole slaw perfectly complement the meal...

Fish and chips made with a cornflake and almond batter from Quahog Republic in Plymouth, Massachusetts.
Fish and chips from Quahog Republic.

The creamy quahog chowder also takes top honors as what comes across as one of the best chowders on the planet with amply-served clams and red bliss potatoes, as well as applewood smoked bacon used instead of pork fat to create optimal flavor.

"The quahogs are bigger in our chowder as opposed to what you usually see with the chopped kind at other restaurants," added Bevans. "This is so amazingly delicious!"

New England clam chowder from Quahog Republic in Plymouth MA
Quahog chowder from Quahog Republic. Photo credit: Tom Hughes.

And of course, the raw bar serves as a main culinary attraction with selections like oysters from Maine and littlenecks from nearby Barnstable on the Cape.  The other menu choices, however, make it hard to choose like the "Lobsta Grilled Cheese" with ample lobster pieces combined with American, Swiss and Cheddar cheese within white or wheat bread. Other popular dishes include: Shephard's Pie, half-pound burgers, quarter-pound hot dogs, kale soup, flat bread pizzas, and salads in which you can add lobster! Some popular drinks on the menu, in addition to the Quahog Republic Bloody Mary: a great permanent and rotating selection of draft beers, a cask-aged Mai Tai, and the New Engand Cranberry Mojito with Privateer rum, cranberry sauce (cranberries sourced locally from Ocean Spray), mint and fresh lime juice topped with soda water.  Quahog Republic's Captain's Den in Plymouth also offers a brunch on Sundays from 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m., that includes a bacon, egg and cheese melt, lobster egg and cheese melt, brunch plate with three eggs, four strips of bacon, tater tots and buttered toast, and, of course, Bloody Marys.

A warm, knowledgeable staff helps give customers a reason to return. The bartenders/wait staff are so down-to-earth, and dedicated to making the customer feel at home.

"Our chefs, servers, bartenders are honest, friendly and just great to work with," said Hughes. "We are very lucky to have them."

Philanthropy serves as a main dish alongside all the delicious food and drink offerings. Bevans and Hughes have established many charity events and incentives including the LIFE Scholarship Fund awarded annually to one or more Falmouth High School seniors based on "life experiences and how students plan to incorporate the Live-Give-Relax mantra into their future plans." Hughes said that funds are raised through the annual Hog Off Fundraiser -- sampling stuffed quahogs from local contenders and then casting votes for the best -- held every spring at the Quahog Republic Dive Bar in Falmouth.

The Plymouth location has flawlessly followed the Quahog Republic's commitment to excellence, and then some. Plymouth has one of New England's great Main Streets (and harbor, too), filled with quaint mom and pop shops, famous nearby attractions (like Plimoth Plantation, as well as Plymouth Rock and Pilgrim Hall Museum both one block from Quahog Republic) and a lively dining out scene.  That Quahog Republic seems like a long-established Plymouth restaurant despite just starting out is nothing short of remarkable and begs the question: Will there be more Quahog Republic restaurants on the way?

"No, I don't think our wives would be pleased with that," said Hughes, with a slight laugh. "They are happy with the restaurants we have, and so are we!"
 
Quahog Republic's Captain's Den is located at 25 Main St. in Plymouth MA. Tel. 508-591-7589.  Web page for Plymouth location: http://quahogrepublic.com/captain-s-den/. Web site for all Quahog Republic locations: http://www.quahogrepublic.com. Also check out the Quahog Republic Facebook fan pages for the Plymouth, Onset, Falmouth and New Bedford locations.

Dining room at Quahog Republic's Captain's Den in Plymouth, Mass.
Dining room at Quahog Republic Captain's Den in Plymouth.



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