After two long years, Maple Street Tavern is nearing completion at the former C.F. Tompkin’s location, right next door to in Danvers Square. Although it has been a laborious process up to this point, owner Dean Borders is excited to finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. “Since I bought the license and started the process it’s been two years and lots of ups and downs. This is definitely the most difficult thing I’ve ever taken on, so it was a learning process for me,” he explained.
Borders, who is originally from Salem, has worked for the local sheriff’s department for over 20 years and is a self-described “glutton for punishment," by always working two jobs, and taking on side jobs in real estate over the years-often putting in over 80 hour a work-week.
But he always knew he wanted to own a restaurant, and now feels like the time is right to pursue his dream.
“I grew up in the Collins Cove area of Salem, and I worked at Collins Cove Seafood where we had the best seafood, and the best sandwiches-anywhere,” Borders recalled. “The cook there didn’t really advertise, but he kept his customers based on consistency. He always gave them great food for a reasonable price. That’s what I want to do.”
Borders said the decision to move to Danvers 14 years ago coincided with the start of his family. Now he and his wife Kim are raising their three children, boys Dean, 13 and Dominic, 9 and daughter Devyn, 15, here.
“Danvers has a good school system, and is a great place to raise kids,” he said. “Danvers does a lot for the kids, like the sports programs, it’s just great. It really is a small town, where everyone knows everyone...you don’t get that in bigger cities.”
A small-town feel is exactly how Borders envisions his tavern, and downtown in the square was his choice spot. With plenty of cozy booth seating and gleaming mahogany paneling; a horseshoe shaped bar with a couple flat screen tv’s tuned into the game, his goal is to build a local group of patrons and become part of the fabric of the town.
“This wont be a sports bar,” he clarified. “But we will have the game on for those that want to watch it. I really want a place that caters to the over 30 crowd, and feel like that small downtown tavern. I think people want to be downtown, rather than head out to the highways, and I think there’s a lot of times where sports parents would get together more if there was a central place, and folks can walk downtown. I want to do something for people our age.”
Although there will certainly be outside help, and Borders already has a chef on board, The Maple Street Tavern will largely be a family business, with Dean running the daily operations, and helping out in the small kitchen, and his wife tending to orders at the tables and bar. The menu will be mainly pub food, nachos and burgers, with seafood like fried seafood, clams, scallops and haddock, with occasional broiled fish specials, and of course the seasonal lobster roll.
“I like seafood,” Borders said. “I learned to cook with seafood. I’m going to bring the process I learned, the same batter we used [at Collins Cove Seafood], and proper cooking methods. It makes a difference, it’s more work to do it right, but for me it’s worth it to put out quality food.”
Borders wants his hometown tavern to be the kind of place that gives back to the community, by sponsoring teams and holding fundraisers. “The idea is that people will know they’re supporting the town by coming here, and sponsoring teams is one way, but we want to take it a little further. There are a lot of ways to give back, and someday when I’m gone I want this place to be thought of as a place that gave back,” he insisted.
As for the name? Borders insists that he didn’t want a trendy name, or something that sounded too pretentious. “ I wanted to keep it simple, and offer good food that speaks for itself,” he said.
Maple Street Tavern will be opening in late November.