By Cathy B. Koplen Contributing Writer
The Daily Star
---- — When the Marikovics family decided to follow their dream of opening a restaurant, they chose Oneonta for a launch site.
Humphrey’s Gourmet To Go, located at 437 Main St., has a menu of interesting choices. The chef uses fresh and local produce to create dishes that are unique. Some of the side dishes include Brussels sprouts baked in olive oil and garlic, and a BLT salad — made with pasta, bacon, tomato and arugula.
The family moved to Oneonta from Long Island where Roni Marikovics was a chef at Whole Foods preparing gourmet takeout dishes.
“We moved up here three years ago,” said Don Marikovics, Roni Marikovics’ husband. “Roni is a perfectionist in the kitchen. She is always experimenting with flavors. She uses white truffle oil for a subtle flavor — it is costly, but it is the flavor she is looking for and nothing else will do.”
Roni Marikovics describes her technique as layering the flavors.
“I have been a chef for 10 years,” said Roni Marikovics. “I thought, when the kids go to college, we should open a restaurant somewhere. We wanted to be more in the country and look for local produce to use. We make all of our food fresh here every day and we use as much local produce as we can find.”
The family found a building that had been an Indian food restaurant. It needed work. The building came with a windowed, greenhouse-style front that trapped heat in the summer. The owners recently added a roof over that portion of the building, to offer some shade.
“We had to do a lot of work on the building,” said Don Marikovics. “The overhang out front makes such a difference. It is much cooler in here now. We have plans to do more as we get established.”
Humphrey’s Gourmet To Go turned out to be a family business. The Marikovics children — Stefan and Corey Marikovics — serve customers and manage the dining room.
The Marikovics spent several anxious hours trying to decide upon a name for the restaurant. They wanted something that would stand out and express a love of good food without being pretentious.
“We wanted something that said gourmet food without being pompous,” said Don Marikovics. “Stephan’s dog is named Humphrey — and when we thought about it, that name seemed to say what we were trying to say.”
Humphrey’s Gourmet To Go offers takeout, dine in and delivery services to the Oneonta area. The restaurant has an active social media presence that encourages online interaction. Their Facebook site has updated pictures of various featured menu items.
The family hopes to reach out to the college community when classes begin.
“You can get good Italian takeout, or Chinese takeout, but that is about it,” said Don Marikovics. “We are offering another option. We have a unique menu and it gives people another choice when they are thinking about takeout.”
The Marikovics family spent an anxious first winter in business. They had a good customer base in the autumn of the year, but it began to stagnate as the temperature steadily declined, they said.
“It was a little scary,” said Don Marikovics. “And then I talked to some people, they said when the winter comes, people stay inside. It was not about our food, it was about the weather — that made me feel better.”
With warmer weather here to stay, the Marikovics family is ready to greet regular customers once more — and are always eager to make new friends, as well.