MAX ON MAIN  –  Coffee Shop Brings International Traditions to Pulaski

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Training with Chef T – “Chef T” demonstrates the proper way to bake Belgian waffles, so they are golden and tender. The crew of Max on Main have been in training during this week, prior to the coffee shop grand opening on Saturday, October 16th. (Danielle Reid/The Patriot)



The Patriot

Beginning Saturday, October 16th, Pulaski residents will be introduced to authentic European cuisine and a specialty reserved blend of roast coffee by Max on Main. The charming coffee shop is the most recent addition to the growing number of businesses moving to downtown Pulaski and is located at 28 West Main Street.

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Three of the Max on Main coffee shop crew and shop manager relax during a training session. (From L – R) John Pittsenbarger, coffee shop manager Juanita Duff, Colby Brown and Daicy Prim. Absent from the photo are crew members Mattie Yelton and Rachel Hudson. (Danielle Reid/The Patriot)

Max on Main is a family inspired business, and its proprietor Max Collignon, ascribes its inception to memories of his grandparents who lived in his native Belgium.

“My grandparents loved coffee. After retirement, they spent most of their leisure time in coffee shops in Europe. I have good memories from that. In Europe, the coffee shops are places for people to meet, converse and discuss current events,” he explained.

Pictures of both his grandfather Phil and grandmother Maria grace the window of the coffee shop, as if they are greeting new friends as they enter in.

When Max’s family moved to Pulaski in 2008 for business reasons, he was concerned about how he and his brother would be accepted as high school students.

“We were amazed at how open the Pulaski community was to us. People invited us into their homes for dinner and made us feel a part of everybody. They welcomed us with open arms, so we want to return the favor and open our doors to the community by bringing them this coffee shop,” said Max, who became an American citizen this year.

The 15-1/2 foot-long bar and five tables, plus workstations with internet access, were created by Max who jokingly says, “I have no woodworking skills, but I have YouTube watching skills.”

The coffee shop can seat up to 48 people.

He credits his family and friends for volunteering to help.

His mother, Ann, designed the interior and chose the furnishings. His father, Patrick, has been immersed in the renovation process and plans to help renovate the adjacent store front for future expansion of the coffee shop, or provide a room for conferences or parties.

In addition to coffee, Max on Main will be offering six different panini sandwiches and panini desserts, a variety of bagels and schmears plus authentic Belgian waffles.

The panini originated in Italy and is made from Italian breads such as focaccia, ciabatta, and baguettes which can hold up under the high heat of a panini press.

In Europe, Belgian waffles are served late in the morning or 4 p.m. in the afternoon as a dessert. They have sugar in them, and the sugar carmalizes on the waffle iron.

Coffee selections include espresso, cappuccino, macchiodo; and flavors like vanilla, pumpkin spice and caramel according to seasons. They also have three different types of tea, including chai.

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“Chef T” relaxes during a training session with a cup of Max on Main’s priority blend of coffee. The pictures in the background are Max’s grandparents, Phil and Maria, whose memory inspired the idea of a coffee shop in Pulaski. (Danielle Reid/The Patriot)

“The Max on Main coffee blend is created for us by a company in Richmond. They are roasting our beans, mostly from Africa and Brazil, specifically for us and the blend is propriatory to Max on Main. The roast itself is referring to the blend of coffee beans and to what degree they are roasted. The roast process depends on cracks in the beans. Since our supplier is hearing impaired, he cannot hear when the beans crack, so he uses a stethoscope to listen for the vibrations when they crack,” Max explains.

Max on Main’s manager, Juanita Duff, quit her job of 33 years and relocated from Ohio two months ago to be part of the start-up and head of the five-person crew serving the coffee shop’s customers.

Although she enjoyed her job, especially working with her sister, she decided it was time to move on to something different. Her husband, David Duff, had transferred with Volvo from Ohio to the Dublin plant.

“It was a very scary decision to leave the comfort and security of my job and to move onto something so different that you don’t know if it will work out,” confesses Juanita.

Because of her expertise and knowledge at her former company, where she was food certified in restaurant and plant management, she had to give a two-month notice. She states, “I want to do something that is fun rather than getting home after a grueling day at work, totally exhausted. The major thing I like about working with Max and his family is that they treat me fantastically and include me in the decisions. I have never been treated as well as an employee – and it amazes me how caring they are. I will do the best I can to help make this business profitable and successful for them.”

Juanita says she believes in treating her employees the way she always wanted to be treated in the workforce.

The coffee shop crew has been training this week under the tutelage of Torrece Gregoire, aka “Chef T” of Hell’s Kitchen reality show fame. She was runner-up on Season 14.

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A perfectly prepared Belgian waffle and priority blend of Max on Main’s coffee will entice customers during their grand opening on Saturday, October 16th from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. (Danielle Reid/The Patriot)

Max credits “Chef T” as being the brains behind everything on the menu. “She is big into sustainability and uses organic ingredients in her cooking. It is well worth it.”

In September, “Chef T” participated in the Euphoria Greenville, SC Festival, sponsored by Lexus. As a headline chef, she has been featured in Euphoria Cookbook for her prize-winning fried chicken recipe.

As a consultant for several local businesses and working as a chef for private events, “Chef T” has added her valuable expertise to training Max on Main’s crew with great detail and flair.  She plans on working with Max for as long as she is needed. Additionally, she has constructed an employee handbook which will provide continuity to the human resources side of running a business.

“Chef T” believes, Pulaski needs a coffee shop – a gathering place – where you can do so much in an unpretentious atmosphere…a place to hang out, discuss, mull over questions in a spirit of community. This is a hidden gem – this is the best place,” exclaimed Max.

As they get close to their grand opening, Max is putting the final touches on the interior of the shop.

“I get a sense of satisfaction seeing something go from one level to the next level. Watching Max on Main develop and renovate and grow gives me great satisfaction,” he adds.

Max on Main’s grand opening is scheduled for Saturday, October 16th from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Then regular hours will begin on Monday, October 18th. The coffee shop will be open Mondays through Fridays, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday hours are from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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