It’s All in the Family at City Streets Café
Enjoying food, drink and friendship at the Cheers of East Windsor.
City Streets Café in East Windsor takes the concept of a family business to a whole new level – Amy Quigley and her husband, Kevin, bought the restaurant in October, 2008, and hired her ex-husband and son, both chefs, to run the kitchen. Amy’s daughter Tara is the front end manager, and grandson Patrick, eight years old, an East Windsor 3rd grader, is the newest generation and face of the business.
"His nickname is Mr. City Streets," said his grandmother proudly. "He loves being here at the restaurant and he’ll stand at the door and greet people as they come in."
Amy Quigley was working as an inventory manager and planner for companies based in New York City, but always had a fondness for the restaurant business. So when City Streets Café went up for sale in the fall of 2008, she saw it as an opportunity that she just didn’t want to pass up.
"We had been looking into the idea of doing something together as a family," said Quigley. "My son wanted to be a chef and was into the whole idea of restaurants, and my daughter was in retail. I was looking for an investment, something to build for the kids and their future. It was a leap, but we said let’s do it."
The timing, in historical terms, turned out not to be the best. October, 2008, was marked by the big bank failures; the stock market nosedived and the housing market tanked, as the country spiraled into recession. But Quigley is proud to say that after three years, the business is still holding its own and the family is working hard to keep the dream alive.
"The restaurant business is a 24/7 business, and being around family all the time, both at work and at home is mixed," she said. "It’s joyful and stressful. As great as it is to be all together, sometimes you need a real break. But we make it work; we have to, because whether it’s marriage, family or a business, if you don’t work at it, it doesn’t work very well."
City Streets Café serves breakfast only on weekends, but during the rest of the week, opens at lunch and stays open for dinner all night long, closing between midnight and two in the morning. The menu is varied, with a mix of traditional fare as well as creative inventions. Favorites include crab cakes, pulled pork, firecracker calamari salad and the Balboa sandwich, a roast beef sandwich with cheese, similar to a French dip. In tune with the economy and the challenges people face today running short of both time and money, the restaurant offers value meals four nights a week.
"We know how hard it is for people these days and times are tough," acknowledged Quigley. "They may be running around with the kids to one sport or another and they often don’t have time to go home and cook dinner. So we want them to say let’s stop at City Streets tonight. Monday night is ‘create your own pasta dinner’ and Tuesday night is build a burger night. For just $5.25, choose your burger, your side, and add cheese or favorite toppings for just 50 cents each."
Live music is featured four, sometimes five days a week. Quigley is open to helping the community out with fundraisers.
"Anyone who comes to us with a fundraiser can pick a night of the week and 15 percent of the food purchases that night will go back to your organization," she said. "From day one we have offered a 15 percent discount to local educators who show their IDs. We consider ourselves the Cheers of East Windsor; we have so many regulars who sit together, and some have even met here and gotten married."
Quigley says that despite the long hours and hard work, all the wonderful people she has met through owning City Streets Café has confirmed for her what she has known all along – that she was not cut out to work behind a desk, and thrives in the hospitality industry.
"We want everyone who walks into our restaurant to enjoy the food and drink and feel welcome. They should come in the first time as guests and leave as friends and keep coming back," she said.