Heard on the Street: Michael's Pappas to cook up his own Place

The name is known to anyone familiar with Rochester's historic restaurants, but the project is something new.

Chris and Shelia Pappasare creating their own restaurant and bar — Pappy's Place— at 1635 U.S. 52 N.

That's where Syler's Tavern, formerly The Break Room, used to serve northwest Rochester until it closed in May 2012.

"We're trying to bring back the neighborhood kitchen and bar," Chris Pappas says. "We live up in that neighborhood. I can remember the day when there were a lot of places in the northwest, and there's nothing left anymore."

Of course, Pappas and his wife are more associated with downtown than any other part of the city. That's where he has been a well-known chef for his family's iconic place, Michael's Restaurant, for the past 29 years. Shelia Pappas, a longtime hostess and bar manager, has been running the bar there for many years.


Now they are stepping out of their comfort zone, and their family's shadow, to create something new.

"It has been our goal for some time to have our own place. We've been seriously working on this for the past four months, and it all just kind of came together," he says. "The bottom line is that it's time for us to try to do our own thing."

They are still working out the details, but the tentative timeline is to open the doors and start cooking in early March.

What kind of menu can diners expect?

"It is all going to be fresh, with the best quality ingredients. That's going to be the focus. I'll be doing my own spin on steaks, lots of hamburgers, fish, ribs and daily made-from-scratch soups," Pappas says. "It will be our place, but I plan on carrying my family tradition along with me. That means to serve a quality dinner … and serve a good drink at a fair price."

They plan to offer a traditional Friday night fish fry and emphasize steak on Saturdays. And look for a fresh take on a feature that has disappeared from many restaurants in recent years.

"We'll have a salad bar. From what we hear, that's something people really desire and just can't find much any more," he says.

What about the look of the place? What kind of atmosphere are people to expect?


A refresh of the dining room and bar is already under way, with painters "modernizing" the color scheme. Some of the high-tops will be replaced with more traditional tables.

However, people shouldn't expect any dramatic changes at first. While he assures that it will be a nice, comfortable place to enjoy a meal and a drink, decorating is not the priority for Pappas.

"The focus is on what we put on the table in front of you and on great service," says the longtime chef. "While service is my wife's thing, my sole focus is on the food."

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