A place that relies on the downtown lunch crowd, Conestoga Grill has been hit hard by COVID-19. But owner Dominic “Deco” Vinas is soldiering onward with pasta, pizza and burgers.
“Downtown is slowly coming back as people are getting called back into their offices, but a lot of people are still working from home or in limited shifts,” Vinas said in late August. “We’re only operating at about 60% (of normal), down 40%, which is huge.”
The nightlife landscape has changed temporarily, at least. “It’s almost like 8 o’clock is the new midnight,” he said about his bar business. “If they do come out, they’re heading home early. It’s very strange.”
For 11 years, Vinas has been the owner of Conestoga Grill at 217 Second Street NW.
Q. Let’s talk about food. What are the best things to order at Conestoga, and the most popular?
A. “The specials have really taken off. Our Friday fish is going very well for us. Chicken Piccata is another special people like. The pork chop on the menu is really popular. We sell a lot of wings and a lot of pizza. We have a $9 nine-inch pizza with up to nine items. We’ve got half-pound burgers and some specialty ones, like a Cajun shrimp burger.”
Q. I remember enjoying spaghetti with a huge meatball.
A. “It’s a 10-ounce meatball that’s pretty much a meal unto itself. With spaghetti, it’s $10.99. We have a very popular red sauce that’s appealing to everybody.”
Q. Who comes up with the menu items?
A. “My chef, Scott Callahan. He’s been here for a little over a year now, and a lot of it is his ideas. We’ll collaborate or bounce ideas off each other. The feedback has been really good on the specials.”
Q. You are fortunate to be on the ground floor of the Onesto and Bliss towers. I’ll bet some of the residents are regulars.
A. “Both the Onesto and Bliss have been very supportive. We had people who bought gift certificates while we were closed, and people who sent money to our employees. We have people that we see on a daily basis. And when they have family or people visiting from out of town, there’s a place downstairs where they can eat and have a couple of drinks and relax.”
Q. Are the downtown Canton restaurant and bar owners a close-knit bunch?
A. “Everybody’s always supportive and willing to help. It’s a nice feeling to own a business downtown now. There’s not a lot of money, but we’re all in it together.”