Ofttimes the local restaurant is the hub of activity, the heart of a small downtown.
That’s certainly the case in Maple City, where Pegtown Station serves as the de facto meeting place and hospitality center. Friends greet each other as they enter or leave, and the chance to grab a bite with other folks from nearby is certainly a draw.
“The people are amazing. I’ve seen friendships form here – that’s the thing that really catches my eye. Community is so important. It’s very rewarding,” said owner Mary MacDonald.
Oh, and don’t forget the food – from fluffy waffles to pizza, sandwiches and more, Pegtown Station customers leave happy.
At least, that’s what Mary and her husband Dave MacDonald hope. The couple bought the restaurant in 2004 and have both continued its local traditions and expanded its offerings.
“It takes a lot of time and energy, but the people are amazing,”said Mary MacDonald between waiting on tables.
MacDonald says she and her husband love their small town, and when the chance to own their own restaurant in Maple City came up, they jumped at it.
“We really like the area. We’d been in the restaurant business for many years and live just down the street. We saw an opportunity to work for ourselves,” she said.
While Mary was waiting on tables, Dave was busy in the kitchen, serving breakfast to a nearly full house of customers on a Tuesday morning.
The fact the restaurant serves breakfast is one of the changes the MacDonalds made. “There wasn’t anyone serving breakfast in Maple City or Cedar at that time,” said MacDonald. “Dave had been making breakfast in another restaurant, so we thought, why not add breakfast?” Now Pegtown Station is one of the busiest breakfast stops around. Not only do locals flock there after church on Sunday, but weekdays are busy as well.
But breakfast is just the start. The restaurant offers over two dozen different sandwiches, Mexican specialties, a host of salads, baskets and a boatload of different pizzas, including calzones. “The menu is pretty large,” said MacDonald.
Among the most popular items on that large menu are the Greek pizza, a sauceless specialty with garlic-infused olive oil, onions, garlic, feta cheese, fresh spinach leaves, tomatoes, black olives, artichoke hearts, topped with mozzarella.
MacDonald says that and the Station Special (ham, pepperoni, mushrooms, onions & green peppers) are the most-requested pies. “Dave makes our dough fresh, and we make our own sauce,” she said.
For the morning fare, MacDonald says they wanted to offer expected staples along with a few additional, creative choices.
“There’s traditional things like eggs, meat, hashbrowns that people like but maybe don’t want to make at home. But we also added the Southwest Burrito (a burrito filled with scrambled eggs, cheese, peppers, onions and spicy chorizo sausage), and we make our own corned beef hash.
“People ask if we’re going to change the menu, but we like to stay consistent. Plus it’s a small kitchen, and we try to use ingredients were already using. That way we can use things efficiently and not have a lot of leftovers.”
She says it’s all about pleasing the customers. “We knew there were popular items. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.”
“But we added a few specialty items.” MacDonald says a couple of those specialties have become favorites. “The eggs Benedict and Greek omelette. The Hollandaise sauce is made fresh each morning.”
The consistent approach extended to their decision to keep the restaurant’s name when they bought it rather than come up with something new. “It’s the original name of the town, and since everybody knew it as Pegtown Station, we thought we didn’t want to change it,” she said.
In addition to its 30 or so seats – get there early for Sunday breakfast – MacDonald says Pegtown Station also boasts a busy to-go business. “We have a lot of take-out business, a lot of pizza and sandwiches,” she said.
MacDonald says the chance to serve the community is very rewarding. But she’s also found the restaurant drawing people from further away than central Leelanau County. “When people come here from Traverse City or Northport – that surprised me big time,” she said.
Understandable. But if a hometown atmosphere and a menu that offers traditional favorites and a few additional treats finds favor among the locals, why shouldn’t it be attractive to others as well?
Pegtown Station is located at 8654 S. Maple City Rd. in the middle of Maple City’s downtown. Call 228-6692. Online, you can see the menu at PegtownStation.net or visit its Facebook page. Open Tuesday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sundays till 8 p.m.
Don’t miss: The Greek Omelette, with spinach, red onions, black olives, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, garlic, feta & mozzarella cheese.