MOUNT PLEASANT Debbie and Marvin Bost have combined their love of N.C. agriculture with Marvin's many years of experience in the restaurant business to open Marvin's Fresh Farmhouse.
The restaurant debuted Aug. 12 in downtown Mount Pleasant with the goal of serving products grown in North Carolina as much as possible.
The pimento cheese and chicken salad are homemade; the chicken salad uses fresh Tyson chicken.
Bulk ground beef comes in twice a week from Taylorsville and is transformed into thick, hand-patted burgers. The country ham also comes from Taylorsville. The pork chops come from Smithfield. S&D Tea and Coffee is purchased just down the road in Concord, as is the Sun-drop soft drink. They've served eggs and sausage from their own farm in eastern Cabarrus County.
“We want to do as much local – at least in North Carolina – as possible,” said Debbie Bost, who is director of the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service in Cabarrus County. “We want North Carolina products.
“We need to keep our North Carolina industries going,” she said. “We need to support our people locally.”
The restaurant is in the location of the former Troutman's Barbecue restaurant. Coincidentally, barbecue has immediately become one of the restaurant's most popular dishes. (The pork comes from Smithfield.)
On opening day, they prepared 50 pounds of barbecue made from Boston butt. They started selling it at 11 a.m. It was gone two hours later.
They've since doubled the amount of barbecue they prepare. (It sells for $9 a pound.) It's slow-roasted for 12 hours, so you can't simply throw more in the smoker.
Owners are famers, too
Inside Marvin's, cheerful red-and-white checked tablecloths cover the tables and booths. Plants given to the couple in congratulations on their new venture are fresh and green. The board advertises homemade desserts – banana pudding is served daily – and the space has a cozy, homey feel.
Debbie, a native of Ohio, has been married to Marvin Bost for nearly nine years. They live on a 170-acre farm that's been in his family for five generations. They have sold their own pork, lamb and goat at the Piedmont Farmers' Market in Concord.
The Bosts have pulled farm implements and other decor from their living room walls, their barn and around their farm.
It's been challenging, Debbie said, to fill the menu with so many N.C. products. Their largest supplier, Concord-based Sysco Foods, was happy to research foods for them.
They would like to include local produce at their restaurant. The key is finding local growers who can accommodate the volume of food they require.
For example, Marvin said, he served up 40 dozen eggs on opening day.
Marvin Bost knows a bit about the restaurant business. His grandfather opened the What-A-Burger restaurant chain in 1954.
“We saw the need for good-quality food,” Debbie said of opening the restaurant.
Trying to find local growers
Along with the barbecue, popular menu items thus far have been the fried pickles, battered onion rings and sweet potato fries.
And the hand-patted burger continues to be a favorite.
“It just has so much more flavor,” Debbie said. “It's a better burger. It really is.”
Debbie said the community support they've received has been “awesome.” So far, they've drawn customers from Mount Pleasant, Albemarle and Concord.
“We hope the community continues to respond to good customer service, good food and a very clean environment,” she said.
“Y'all hurry back,” Marvin called out to customers from behind the grill.
Susan Shinn is a freelance writer.