One Queens family is bringing East Coast culinary staples to Astoria.
East Coast Foodies, a restaurant run by the Pappas family that opened on March 31 at 35-11 34th Ave., sources all of its food from small shops in New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Maine.
You’ll find soft drinks in unique flavors like cranberry lime made by East Coast small businesses; Maple cotton candy from Parker’s Real Maple in New York; and a variety of preserves that the owners are experimenting with in their recipes.
Even the potato chips come from small, local companies: the Vintage Main Kitchen chips are made in Maine by a “couple [that] cuts the potatoes at their dinner table,” said Dean Pappas, who runs the place with his mother, Mary.
But the eatery’s real strength is in their list of four carefully curated main sandwiches — made with East Coast ingredients, of course — that are all named after East Coast locales.
The Burlington, a grilled cheese sandwich, includes cheddar, swiss cheese, and applewood smoked maple bacon on sourdough bread with caramelized onions. It’s paired with a side shot of maple syrup to dunk or drizzle, which makes this delicious sandwich the perfect combination of savory and sweet.
There’s also The Philly, their version of the Philadelphia cheese steak, which filled the restaurant with an irresistible aroma, and The Vermont, a grilled cheese sandwich that may be tweaked thanks to suggestions from returning customers.
The Pappas family, originally from Greece, has been trickling over to Astoria over the past several decades. Dean Pappas moved to Astoria from Athens 10 years ago and works in technology, along with this new business venture.
Neither he nor his mother had ever worked in the restaurant business, but they were inspired to create East Coast Foodies when they realized what was missing from the local food scene.
“This all started from our desire to be able to find certain things,” he said. “There is nowhere really in Astoria to get a lobster roll or to get a hot dog.”
He brainstormed a list of “wacky things you didn’t even know existed” that were created on the East Coast and went from there.
The menu also includes hot dogs, which are named after neighborhoods or boroughs in New York. The Astoria includes an all-natural beef hot dog grilled with bacon and topped with onion and jalapenos. Pappas said it’s the customer favorite so far.
Though the hot dogs range from $2.50 to $4.50, The Hamptons dog, which includes bacon, avocado and lobster, is offered “at a Hamptons price point” because of the shellfish.
Desserts include cheesecake and whoopie pies, which are made from scratch in house. Other offerings include Buffalo wings with Sean’s Boo-Yah sauce, pickles from Pickle Guy’s Pickles, and an orange walnut salad.
You won’t find Coke or Pepsi at East Coast Foodies but you will find Moxie, a Maine-based company that sells one of the first mass-produced soft drinks in the United States. Brooklyn-based Bruce Cost Ginger Ale can also be purchased there.
The cooks also do not use microwaves or fryers; the chicken wings are baked and the hot dogs are grilled.
“When you go with a theme, I really want to go with it wholeheartedly to support these smaller craft places,” Pappas said. “It’s actually made our decision making easier ever since we chose a theme.”
He hopes to expand the menu in the future. First, East Coast Foodies will serve a number of specials like mac ‘n’ cheese and then venture down the East Coast to offer things like Maryland crab cakes, South Carolina pulled pork or Florida Key lime pie.
Pappas said the reception from customers has been great so far, and he looks forward to playing with the menu. Though his day job is in the technology industry, he is hoping the restaurant could become a full-time job in the future.
“We’re listening to as much feedback from our customers [as we can],” he said. “It’s a lot of fun. I’ve not been in a retail customer facing business. I’m a tech guy, but this is so much fun.”
East Coast Foodies is currently open from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. on weekends.