The O-town Scene

May 10, 2012

The O-town Scene - Oneonta, NY

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By Cassandra Miller "There's a select population that cares about food, or else I wouldn't be in business right now," Chris MacLeman said after Sunday brunch service at the second restaurant he and chef Paul Maerz have opened together in the last year and a half, the Roundhouse Pub & Grill at the Oneonta Country Club, which had its first customers Easter Sunday. MacLeman and Maerz serve food to people who want something delicious, but a little different, a little modern. Wild mushroom fritters with yellow pepper and tomato jam. Braised pork butt with chorizo hash, broccolini and black cherry reduction. These are two of MacLeman's dishes on the menu at the Round- house. He introduced the fritters to Oneonta diners at the duo's other restaurant, Bistro on Main in down- town Oneonta. 9 Country Club Drive, Oneonta ROUNDHOUSE PUB & GRILL Burger on croissant bun with house made pasta salad Maerz brought MacLeman into his Main Street business in late 2010, when Maerz was looking for extra help at the restaurant, then called Bella Pockets, and MacLeman was out of his job running Forest Lane Bistro at Woodhaven Golf Course, which closed in the winter of 2010. "I was homeless, pretty much," MacLeman said he was when he had the casual conversation with Maerz while eating lunch at Bella Pockets, which turned into a successful business partnership. Pappardelle pasta, por- tabella mushrooms , tomato basil sauce, sauteed chicken, and fontina cheese "At the time, it was a necessity for both of us," Maerz said. "(My wife) went back to work and we had two kids, so it was hard for me to be there until 8 at night. The 13-hour days were too much at the time. I knew Chris was good at what he did. I didn't know he was this good. It worked ... It's been better than expected. ... It was the best business decision I've ever made." Maerz, who went to culinary school at Johnson and Wales University in Providence, opened Bella Pockets in the Clinton Plaza in 2003, and moved the business to Main Street in 2008. A Culinary Institute of America graduate, MacLem- an worked at upscale restaurants in New York City, San Diego and Las Vegas before moving back to the area in 2009, when he brought his new American cooking to Forest Lane Bistro at Woodhaven Golf Course. Why they opened another restaurant after having success with Bistro on Main: the duo's golfing fans wouldn't leave them alone. "Chris was over at Woodhaven, so they (Country Club members) were recruiting the heck out of him," Maerz said. "When they shut down, Chris and I got together right off the bat. I'd be outside sweeping the sidewalk and people would be coming in recruiting us to come over here (to the Country Club). One day (two Country Club board members) showed up, and they said 'Hey, let's work this out.'" So far, the partnership with the Country Club has been working out well. "This relationship between us and the members, it's two-sided. We want to grow here, but it's not only up to us. We love being here so far," Maerz said. "I think it's the best venue in town. I think sitting out here is as good as sitting on the back porch at (Main Street restaurants). It's the best view. It's a gorgeous view." Taco night special, crispy pulled pork tacos, rice and beans, sour cream, and banana pep- pers BISTRO ON MAIN 281 Main St., Oneonta Pastrami Reuben on whole grain bun, Swiss, and house-made thousand island aioli Contributed Photos May 10, 2012 O-Town Scene 17

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