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Father's Kitchen and Taphouse/VisitingNewEngland small business partnership - Local Small Business Stories

Father's Knows Best When It Comes to a Local Cape Cod Dining Out Experience

This welcoming, cozy restaurant features delicious comfort foods and 41 rotating craft beer lines 

Snug at Father's Kitchen & Taphouse in Sandwich, MA.
Snug dining booth at Father's Kitchen and Taphouse.

Article by Eric Hurwitz, @newenglandinfo. Story updated on 2/20/2020.

On a cold, rainy November day on Cape Cod, warm lights emanate from Father's Kitchen and Taphouse on Route 6A in East Sandwich, Mass., inviting locals to come in from the harsher elements of New England weather.

And that they do. The crowds first frequent the parking lot and then the dining rooms and bar at Father's. Like a scene out of Billy's Joel's song "Piano Man" but without the 88 keys, conversations fill the rooms with reflections, hopes and dreams. It's not just for the grown-ups, however, as a child enthuses to his parents about PBS Kids television shows 
from a room distanced from the bar.  

No matter what age, Father's Kitchen and Taphouse provides the setting for people to just be themselves -- quite a pleasant change from some of the hectic, high profile restaurants that cater to the Cape Cod tourist crowd. At this humble roadside restaurant, you won't find any menus with cartoon lobster drawings, $18 cheeseburgers or seasonal food items being offered at the wrong time of the year. There's no gift shop with elevated prices on tacky merchandise. The signage out front shows no sign of gaudy illumination. From owners to staff to customers, everyone seems at ease here.

"We want our restaurant to feel comfortable as you would in your home with the idea of the snug, booths and woodwork," said John Downes who co-owns Father's Kitchen and Taphouse with his brother, Matt Downes. Great value for the money and huge portions of food further set apart Father's as a standout local Cape Cod restaurant. From a culinary perspective, the mammoth, flavorful fish sandwich validates why so many locals love this place...

Fish sandwich from Father's Kitchen and Taphouse in Sandwich, Masssachusetts.
Fish sandwich.

"We offer simple and fresh menu items," said John. "All items are prepped daily."

Once soaking in the quaint ambiance of Father's Kitchen and Taphouse, recent memories of the cold November rain outside dissipate with a warm front cast over every square foot of the restaurant. Although dimly lit, the forecast seems permanently sunny inside Father's Kitchen and Taphouse.

It all starts with a classy eye-catching sign outside that draw drivers from the Old King's Highway to, ultimately, a royally good dining experience...

Fathers' Kitchen & Taphouse, Sandwich, MA.
Father's Kitchen and Taphouse sign, restaurant.

Approaching Father's Kitchen and Taphouse, a local feel comes into play with Cape Cod shingles gracing the exterior...

Entering Father's Kitchen & Taphouse in Sandwich, Mass.
Walking toward the entrance.

Once inside, a feeling of comfort takes hold immediately with dimly-lit environs, New England post-and-beam ceiling design, wood booths, a long handsome bar, a fireplace and mullions on a window separating the tap room and a dining room.
Snugs offer warm, cozy spaces to call one's own and are about as comfortable as you'll ever experience in a tavern or pub-type atmosphere.

Fireplace at Father's Kitchen & Taphouse in Sandwich, Mass.
Fireplace room and bar at Father's.

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree to set the inviting tone as salt-of-the-earth John and Matt are about as genuine and unpretentious as they come in the restaurant industry. The staff follows suit with friendly faces and efficient service from the hostess to waitstaff to kitchen.

John has experienced a life that could have ended up as a conversation in "Piano Man," working 35+ years in the corporate food industry including stints in Los Angeles, New York City and Washington, D.C. but then coming to a career crossroads on what to do next. Matt, a carpenter by trade and a quick study foodie with a talent for cooking, encouraged his brother to move to the Cape for a fresh new start. They began working as a team in 2006, opening the former La Paz Surf Cantina in Hyannis. The brothers then opened Flynn's Irish Pub in Bourne, which is now 6A Brewing Company and Flynn's Irish Pub in Plymouth which has been sold. Father's Kitchen and Taphouse opened in February 2015 and along with Flynn's Irish Pub in Mansfield, Mass. and 6A Brewing Company comprise a trio of dining and drinking establishments extremely popular with the local crowds.

Dining room at Father's Kitchen & Taphouse in Sadnwich, Mass.
Cozy post-and-beam dining room at Father's Kitchen and Taphouse.

As an ode to their parents, John and Matt named Father's after their dad, Bob Downes, and Flynn's Irish Pub after mom, Patricia, whose maiden name is Flynn.

An ode to fathers at Father's Kitchen and Taphouse in Sandwich, Mass.Family photos with dads celebrated at Father's.

Matt helped rebuild Father's including creating the current bar -- also known as the tap room -- and installing snugs where the old bar used to be when this property was known for many years as The Beehive restaurant.

Bar at Father's Kitchen and Taphouse in Sandwich, Mass.
Bar area at Father's.

"We loved the space," said John. "We did lots of remodeling. We looked to make it look more like an Irish pub, make it family-friendly and really bring something more to the community. We thought it be a nice offshoot of our other businesses."

Lobby area of Father's Kitchen and Taphouse in Sandwich, Mass.
Wonderful, quaint ambiance at Father's.

John shows deep gratitude that Father's Kitchen and Taphouse has experienced success but does not hold back on being perfectly honest about the life of a restaurateur. He realizes that even one person down and having a year-round business in a seasonal region can make a difference on a day-to-day basis.

"The business brings instant gratification or heartache," said John, a Carmel, N.Y. native with a bachelors degree in television, radio and film from the University of Texas. "You have to love what you do, be creative, honest and determined."

Creating Foods That People Love But With a Twist

"We love creating food items that people repeatedly order on each visit and seeing satisfied faces is all worth the hard work," said John. "I give Matt credit for the food items... He takes care of the kitchen staff and picks up on things very quickly. You won't find any frozen food here!" What that means for customers: Many of the names of the dishes on the very likable menu might look familiar but the presentation and taste go way beyond the typical pub fare. For appetizers, the bacon cheeseburger roll features three handmade egg rolls stuffed with seasoned ground beef, bacon and American cheese.

Bacon cheeseburger egg rolls from Father's Kitchen & Taphouse in Sandwich, Mass.
Bacon cheeseburger rolls from Father's. Photo credit: Father's Kitchen and Taphouse.

Nachos feature a large portion of warm corn tortilla chips topped with shredded cheddar cheese, pepper jack cheese, jalapenos, black olives, bell peppers, sour cream, and pico de gallo.

Nachos from Father's Kitchen & Taphouse in Sandwich, MA.
Nachos from Father's. Photo credit: Father's Kitchen and Taphouse.

The Caprese (pictured below with steak tips) comes across as a food magazine-worthy salad with fresh mozzarella, vine-ripened tomatoes and baby spinach with a balsamic glaze.

Caprese salad with steak tips from Father's Kitchen & Taphouse in Sandwich, Mass.
Caprese salad with steak tips. Photo credit: Father's Kitchen and Taphouse.

The steak tips go through a 24-hour marinated process and are then grilled to perfection.

24-hour marinated steak tips from Father's Kitchen and Taphouse in Sandwich, Mass.
Steak tips served with broccoli and homemade cole slaw. Photo credit: Father's Kitchen and Taphouse.

The Shepherd's Pie is a favorite with its mounds of lean ground beef simmered in gravy served with the right amount of peas and corn, and topped with mashed potatoes.
The chicken and waffle contains a made-to-order Belgian waffle topped with buttermilk fried chicken and a side of real maple syrup.

Fried buttermilk chicken sliders from Father's Kitchen and Taphouse in Sandwich, Mass.
Chicken and waffle. Photo credit; Father's Kitchen and Taphouse.

Father's Burger is a humongous portion of ground beef sourced from Hereford Beef in Michigan, featuring 8 oz. of meat topped with bleu cheese crumbles, crispy onions, bacon and sriracha bourbon sauce served on a pretzel bun.

The Father's Burger from Father's Kitchen and Taphouse in Sandwich, Mass.
Father's Burger. Photo source: Father's Kitchen and Taphouse Facebook fan page.

The fish burrito consists of a large flour tortilla stuffed with black beans, rice, cilantro, diced tomatoes, pepper jack cheese, white chipotle sauce, avocado polao sauce, ranchero sauce, salsa and fried cod. The fish is locally-sourced.

Fish burrito from Father's Kitchen and Taphouse in Sandwich, Mass.
Fish burrito. Photo credit: Father's Kitchen and Taphouse.

The Dubliner excels with an eight oz. fried chicken breast, crispy bacon slices, an egg and cheddar cheese on grilled sourdough bread.

The Dubliner chicken sandwich from Father's Kitchen and Taphouse in East Sandwich, MA.
The Dubliner. Photo credit: Father's Kitchen and Taphouse.

The pizzas, cooked in a stone-fire oven imported from Italy, range from the traditional like pepperoni and Margarita to the unusual like sausage ricotta and prosciutto and fig. Each pizza features a written message on the wrapper that states who created that pizza. Some customers have been known to walk right into the kitchen and thank the cook!

Pepperoni pizza from Father's Kitchen and Taphouse in Sandwich, Mass.Pepperoni pizza from Father's.

The most unusual pizza has to be the peanut butter bacon with peanut butter, bacon, mozzarella cheese, and beer-braised sausage.

"My brother (Matt) came up with that one," said John. "We all grew up with peanut butter. It's a nostalgic food but this one is in the pizza. It might sound strange combining it with pizza but it tastes really good. It's a popular menu item here."

Peanut butter bacon pizza from Father's Kitchen & Taphouse in East Sandwich, Mass.
Peanut butter and bacon pizza. Photo credit: Father's Kitchen and Taphouse.

Then there's that delicious oversized fish sandwich. The beer battered fried cod with lettuce and tomato on a brioche bun clearly gets first noticed for its huge portion but equally important is the tender, flavorful taste. It is the best fish sandwich this writer has experienced in all of New England.

Huge fish haddock sandwich from Father's Kitchen & Taphouse in Sandwich, Mass.
Oversized fish sandwich from Father's.

"The fish sandwich -- we also use that fish for the fish and chips" said John.

Fish and chips from Father's Kitchen and Taphouse in Sandwich, MA.
Fish and chips from Father's.

For a homemade dessert, the Guinness brownie sundae is enough for two people.

Guinness brownie sundae from Father's Kitchen & Taphouse in Sandwich, Mass.
Guinness brownie pie.

"Yeah, that's a dessert not really meant for just one person," said John with a smile. "People love this dessert, especially with that Guinness taste. It really adds something."

Raising a Toast at a Special Local Cape Cod Restaurant

There's a nice rotating craft beer selection at Father's Kitchen & Taphouse in East Sandwich, MA.
A tasty brew from Cape Cod's 6A Brewing Company can be enjoyed at Father's. Photo source: Father's Kitchen and Taphouse Facebook fan page.

A restaurant serving beer is only as the good as its last new brew offered. John knows this all too well.

"Beer lovers have been constantly asking over the years for 'What's New,' a phrase that has propelled the craft beer industry as well as our pub with our 41 rotating taps," said John

offers local, national and international brews including lagers, wheat beers, blonde and pale ales, IPAs, reds, browns and ambers, strong and barrel aged beers, ciders and meads, porters and stouts, sour beers and fruit beers.

For a full list, check out its current beer selection page at


Tap room counter at Father's Kitchen & Taphouse in Sanwich, Mass.
Counter space at Father's tap room.

Although Father's Kitchen and Taphouse first caters to a local crowd, the restaurant also comes highly recommended for tourists. Many visitors stop by after a day at the beach or other Cape Cod attractions, looking for the big portions, low prices and a nice cozy space.
How nice it is to step into a restaurant focusing solely on the food, drink, comfortable atmosphere, good value for the money and friendly service. It is astounding how many restaurants today do not meet at all of those criteria, even the most highly regarded ones.  This disturbing trend could reflect a world that often favors style over substance. Father's, on the other hand, serves as a great parental role model of a how a restaurant should be run by thinking of the customer first through action instead of mere words.

Deparate dining room at Father's Kitchen and Taphouse in Sandwich, MA.
Dining room on the opposite end of the restaurant from the bar.

"We do well year-round because of our commitment to the quality food and drink we serve and to the community," said John. "Like I said, it is not just a seasonal thing for us. We are glad to be here on Cape Cod. The people seem to love it here."

Father's Kitchen and Taphouse is located at 406 MA-6A in East Sandwich, MA 02537. Tel. 774-205-2139.
Closed Monday
Tuesday - Friday: Open at 4 p.m.
Saturday - Sunday: Open at 11:30 a.m.
Kitchen open till 10 p.m.
Web site:

Facebook fan page:

Also check out the highly-rated reviews of Father's on TripAdvisor and Google
More local small business reading:

Four Seas Ice Cream, Centerville, Mass.

Centerville Pie Co., Centerville, Mass.

Share the Father's Kitchen & Taphouse graphic below on Pinterest...

Check out this fantastic local Cape Cod neighborhood restaurant in Sandwich ...

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