MONROE — The timing was a couple years ago, when Thomas and Coliesta Vidak opened their restaurant — The Monroe Grill — with the hope that it would become a staple among the well-loved restaurants in the downtown area.

Sadly, Monroe Grill fell victim to COVID-19 and the Vidaks decided to close the business. However, they are back downtown again with a new restaurant — Main Street Bistro. They opened at the end of June, the night before the Summer Pub Crawl.

The MenuThough it offers some of the same items that were prepared at Monroe Grill, Main Street Bistro also has Italian-American options which is Chef Thomas’ specialty. They are open Tuesdays through Saturdays for lunch and dinner. Too, they will deliver to bars in the downtown area that allow food to be delivered.

They offer a wide variety of food from chicken tenders, to hamburgers to salads in addition to serving steak and stuffed shrimp entrees with wine or beer. They also have classic Italian dishes like spaghetti with meatballs and chicken alfredo.

“It’s really hard to come in here and not find something you would want,” Thomas said.

They serve daily specials as well; Thursday’s special was a Buffalo chicken wrap.

Thomas’ goal in creating a menu for the bistro was to provide what customers wanted and missed from the Monroe Grill, as opposed to only offering dishes he wanted to prepare.

When Thomas and Coliesta got wind of Thai Tamarind closing (the restaurant that previously inhabited the space), they spoke to the owner of the building and began working to establish Main Street Bistro.

Design

Where Main Street Bistro is located, there have been several other restaurants like Stone Table, Crust and Jam and Thai Tamarind. Each chef left a personal stamp on the place in how they designed and set up their kitchen.

Thomas said he appreciates whoever installed the overhead hood system because all of his equipment fits under it. Too, he liked that someone added drains to the floors for easy clean up.

It took Thomas about two months to build the kitchen he needed for the bistro.

The Vidaks are learning what adjustments need to be made to accommodate large crowds in a seemingly smaller space. With summertime events like Music on Main and the impending opening of the Dowd Center Theatre, they are planning how to fit customers inside the restaurant. One idea is to offer grab-and-go items so people can get in and out quicker.

In designing Main Street Bistro, the Vidaks bring an upscale flair to downtown. The walls are decorated with wooden pizza paddles and paintings surrounded by bold, gold frames that are juxtaposed with modern lighting and wall mountings. Italian music plays in the background to give patrons the feeling of being in an authentic Italian restaurant.

“I think that people are always looking for something new and exciting. Upscale would be great. We hope to be a staple here,” Coliesta said. “People will go to finer places and celebrate those great moments so we would love to be one of those places.”

Remembering Monroe Grill

Coliesta explained why she and Thomas decided to close the Monroe Grill. Not only was it impacted by COVID-19, but Coliesta was caring for a family member in addition to working a full-time job outside the restaurant.

“There were just a lot of things going on so we were stretched thin not only from a personal standpoint but also just from the Monroe Grill standpoint,” Coliesta said.

“It’s very difficult when you open a restaurant and you put your heart into it and your money to try to determine what’s a stopping point,” she added. She and Thomas would have daily discussions on how to try to make the restaurant last, but ultimately agreed they “needed to take a step back.”