SHIRLEY -- Buzz about the new restaurant in town began last summer, when Ryan DeWolf came to the Board of Selectmen with his plans.
He and his mother, Tracy DeWolf, had purchased a building at 7 Main Street to house the Brookside Grill, which they hoped to open in August. As it turned out, the opening was delayed until fall.
Meanwhile, the recently minted business partners, both town residents, were working through the permit process and setting up shop: renovating, hiring staff including chef Ashani "Sean" Hayles of Jamaica, line cooks and waiters.
When the Brookside Grill opened on Nov. 12, the initial to-do list was covered, including a full liquor license, and word was out on social media. Facebook and Google are still the best go-tos for current menus and to find out what's up and what's new at the new eatery, Ryan said in a recent interview.
For example, the grand opening, slated for sometime later in this month or early in February; game nights and an upcoming Valentine's Day event.
"We had a decent following on Facebook right off," he said and turnout on day one -- a weekday -- was healthy. It was even better that weekend. "It was slammed," he said. And the trend continues.
It's an ideal spot, as Tracy DeWolf noted when she passed the then-vacant building before buying it, her son said. And it has a long history in the food business, from its early 20th-century origins as a market to a string of eateries, including a pizza place, a couple of Chinese restaurants and a sandwich shop.
A bar called the Brookside Tavern once stood on the now-vacant lot next door. The town owns the adjacent property now, used as a municipal parking lot and providing added spots for restaurant patrons. But there's ample on-street parking, DeWolf said,
The Brookside Grill was warm and welcoming when a visitor met him there on a cold, blustery day. Natural light filtered in through large street-facing windows with vertical blinds.
Everything looked neat and new, furniture to décor.
Black chairs and tables with crisp, spotless white tablecloths occupy one side of the room. On the other,high-backed chairs line the wood-paneled bar, with seating for about a dozen people. A couple of tall, bistro-style tables by the window complete the scene. In all, the restaurant seats 42, DeWolf said.
The room isn't large but feels spacious. Future plans may include a decorative, partial petition to define the two spaces, DeWolf said, and maybe, in warm weather, outdoor tables on an existing deck.
He credits the interior set-up to designer/craftsmen Geoffrey Gerken and Shawn Hall, assisted by his mother's eye for ambiance. The co-owner pitched in, too. "I helped with the back wall," he said.
DeWolf, who holds a graduate degree in Sports Medicine, juggles dual careers these days, with a full-time day job as a clinical researcher at Mass General Hospital in Boston.
"My mom has worked in the industry for years," he said, ticking off resume points. She owned a bar, the Brew Locker, and managed VFW bars in the Worcester area, he said.
But he's no newcomer to the business, either, thanks to jobs he held during and after grad school.
It was past noon, a quiet hiatus between breakfast and dinner. A customer ambled in to sit at the bar, which is open Tuesday-Saturday, 3 p.m. to closing time.
A regular already, the customer said he'd eaten at the Brookside Grill "about 10 times" so far and likes to drop in for a drink on weekends. "They make a great Bloody Mary," he said.
The varied dinner menu features soups, salads, veggie and farm specialties and international items such as Poutine, a Canadian dish served as an appetizer ($8.50) and "The Piquant Chicken," a pair of pan-seared chicken breasts tossed in Cajun flour batter and served with sweet, garlic honey butter sauce ($15) and English-style fish and chips:Guinness-battered fried haddock and seasoned, hand--cut fries (15.)
American standards include The House burger ($10) Steak Tips ($16) and Delmonico Steak ($16.) Prime Rib, served Thursday-Saturday comes in two sizes: Queen ($19) or King ($22.)
Prices range from $8.00 for an appetizer of fried zucchini sticks coated in Italian bread crumbs and served with horseradish dipping sauce to $22 for the super-sized Prime Rib.
One of six items under the header "From the Sea," the next-priciest entree on the menu is Seafood Diablo: shrimp, clams and haddock, sauteed in homemade red sauce, with "special house spices" and served over linguine. ($18)
The Kids Menu ($5) offers kid-friendly options such as grilled cheese, chicken tenders, junior cheese burger and pasta with sauce. Also, most adult entrees can be half-sized for kids, for half the price.
Breakfast fare is " mostly staples" DeWolf said and, like every other item on the menu, it's also available for takeout.
Breakfast is served from 6 to 11 a.m. Tuesday through Friday; 7 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Dinner is served Tuesday to Saturday. Hours are 4-9 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, 4-10 p.m. Thursday-Saturday.
The restaurant is closed on Mondays.