Saturday, October 9, 2010

Eating out in Mendham: Country Coffee Shop

If you're looking for a warm feeling to go along with your warm meal, you can't go wrong with Country Coffee Shop in Mendham. It recently was voted the runner-up Best Diner by the readers of MendhamChesterWashington This Week.

The face behind that warm feeling is John Paxos, who's been working in the food business since he was a teenager.

"I was brought into the business by my parents," Paxos says with a smile. "I was about 13 when I started working, and I've been doing it ever since."

Paxos, who's had this shop in the corner of the Mendham Shopping Center for about 14 years, thinks a great deal of the diner's success is attributed to the fact that it has a very wide-open market.

"We're a family business, family owned and operated," Paxos says. "We try to cater to families."

The children's menu includes all the staples kids usually ask for, no matter what restaurant they go to.

"We do burgers, chicken fingers, spaghetti and meatballs, grilled cheese," Paxos says. "We do a whole array of different stuff."

While the burgers and omelets are very popular, one of the most famous items on the menu might surprise you — the Greek Salad. But it's not the only popular salad here. As the seasons change, so does the menu — slightly.

"We have a gorgonzola salad with apples and walnuts," Paxos says. "At different times of the year, we'll do things like zucchini bread, things like that."

Paxos also has recently added ice coffee and flavored coffees, which are much-loved by his customers, he says.

"It's been going good," Paxos says.

Also new to the shop is a bit of technology, used to market new menu items.

"We have our own Facebook page that we put our new stuff on," Paxos says. When asked whether Country Coffee Shop has a Twitter page, Paxos laughs.

"No Twitter account, I don't even know what Twitter is," he says.

Paxos has been in many different locations since he started in the business, from Hopatcong to Union, but he thinks this current spot is the best of them all.

"Mendham is the best town in the country. You'd better believe it," Paxos says. "You can't beat it. It has affluent people, a lot of young families, a lot of people who are up on things, and it's a good community. There's a lot of stuff going on in town."

Asked whether he's seen many of the same faces since he opened the shop, he nods his head happily.

"I probably know most of the customers by name," Paxos says. "Either that or by what they order."

WHERE: Mendham Village Shopping Center, Route 24, Mendham
TELEPHONE NUMBER: 973-543-7173
HOURS: 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Friday and 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
CUISINE: Burgers, salads, omelets and more
PAYMENT: Cash, Mastercard, Visa and American Express
PRICE RANGE: Griddle food, $3.95 to $6.50; salads, $4.75 to $11.75; sandwiches, $3.75 to $5.75; burgers, $4.25 to $7.50
DRESS: Casual
THE SCENE: As the menu says, this diner is where friends meet to eat
ATMOSPHERE: A friendly diner — exactly what you expect it to be
PARKING: In the lot
OWNER: John and Andrew Paxos

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