Taste of the City
Experience Hometown Cuisine: This trio of indie restaurants owned and operated by Rochester natives will tempt you!
If you want to experience a true taste of the city, look no further than restaurants owned by Rochester natives. At Beetle's Bar & Grill, Pappy's Place, or Prescotts Grill, you may even enjoy a meal prepared by the owners themselves. These restaurateurs are the chefs, managers, and owners whose work results in delicious food for Rochester diners. And they could probably tell a story or two about the city they grew up in.
BEETLE'S BAR & GRILL
In 2004, after a 25-year corporate career, Mike Kothenbeutel returned to his roots in food service. His first job, at 15, was cooking for a root beer stand and later for KFC, before leaving the kitchen for the corporation. First IBM, then Celestica. "Then Celestica closed and I needed a job."
So he opened Beetle's, "a neighborhood eatery that features a lot of the standards you'd expect to find at a neighborhood place." Broasted chicken and burgers are customer favorites, but Mike claims no first choice: "I eat here every day, and I like everything."
Beetle's offers different specials each month. For example, grilled pastrami on marble rye, Greek chicken pita pizza and shrimp burgers are in the rotation. Most dishes are made from scratch, and some of the original cooks still work there. "They're good, and they're fast."
And the name Beetle's? That's how you pronounce the "beutel" in Kothenbeutel. It's been MIke's nickname since before he can remember.
"I've gotten to know so many people since I opened Beetle's," he said. "It's good food, good friends, good times here."
Pappy's Place chef and proprietor Chris Pappas named his restaurant in honor of his late grandfather, restaurateur Paul Pappas. According to the family story, Chris as a toddler couldn't say "Grandpa Paul" and called his "Grandpa Pappy." Grandpa Pappy owned two successful restaurants, Michael's and the Hubbell House.
Chris, a graduate of Johnson and Wales University College of Culinary Arts and a fourth-generation restaurateur, has worked for his family at all their dining establishments. His wife, Pappy's co-owner Sheila, also has a background in food service.
They opened Pappy's in 2013. "Our place offers Midwest fare with a flair and appeals to all age groups," Chris said. "In everything from craft tap beers to meat and produce, I'm a big advocate of fresh and local."
Customers praise the signature Pappy Burger, a half-pound of fresh ground beef served with Wisconsin cheese curds, Pappy's onion rings and creamy barbecue sauce. The Pappy is one of a dozen or so burger varieties, and whichever you choose, you can substitute fresh chicken breast or portabella mushroom.
French dip, pike reuben, and the Saturday evening special, prime rib, are popular selections, too.
"My family's model is always to put a quality meal and a good drink for a fair price in front of people, and customers will see the value of this and come back."
"Seasonal is what makes Prescotts unique," said Christopher Rohe after he'd spent a morning harvesting 1,100 pounds of zucchini, destined to appear on Prescotts menu as bread or cake or sliced-and-grilled.
Chris and his wife, Jenna, started Prescotts in 2006. He's the chef; she's the sommelier, and both tend their big garden. "When our heirloom tomatoes ripen, we'll make soups, sauces, pizza and bruschetta," said Chris, who's won awards that include Chef of the Year from the Southeastern Minnesota Culinary Association.
He was 13 when he entered the food business, at Burger King as "cook and everything." Later, he cooked for several other local restaurants. He became executive chef at Broadstreet Cafe and served for five years as food and beverage director at the Rochester Athletic Club. "Then I wanted to work for myself."
Prescotts specializes in classical French and New American cuisine, which Chris describes as "Euro-influenced American, Old World and modern together." Customers enjoy dishes such as butternut squash ravioli and crab stuffed chicken breast. "My two favorites are duck and lamb."
An illustrious ancestor gave the restaurant its name. Frank Clark Prescott, Chris's five-greats grandfather, served as brigadier general, attorney, and California state legislator.
Prescotts' decor is relaxed and understated. "We want to keep it simple with the focus on food, wine and service."