Restaurateur Seeks To Keep Husband's Tradition Strong
OCEAN CITY - As you walk into the General's Kitchen, you are immediately surrounded by the breakfast smells of bacon, eggs and mouthwatering creamed chipped beef wafting through the air and you can almost feel the tradition that is built into the wood paneling and mixed into the ingredients.
According to owner Angela Bollas, the General's Kitchen is all about tradition and quality ingredients.
'The main thing is keeping the tradition that Gus started in 1965,' Angela said, describing her goal in running her late husband's restaurant.
Angela's late husband, Gus Bollas, originally opened the restaurant in the George Washington Hotel in 1965 and stayed there until the hotel was sold in 1978 when he relocated to the restaurant's current location on 74th Street. Angela became a part of the General's Kitchen family when she began dating Gus in 1992, marrying him that same year.
Angela, however, was not new to the challenges of restaurant life or the challenges of life in general. Angela moved from Washington D.C., retiring in Ocean City in 1988 to be closer to her son, Sergeant Bob Noll of the Ocean City Police Department. While living in D.C., Angela owned and operated two restaurants before she took on a distinguished career in government.
She may have retired, but she certainly didn't slow down when she came to town, busying herself with the senior center, becoming active in the community, and soon after, marrying and helping to run a restaurant. 'I wasn't new to the game you know,' Angela said of running a restaurant.
Angela went on to say that although she had experience in restaurants and Gus had come from a lifetime of the restaurant business, there were still challenges to the business.
'No two businesses are run alike,' she said.
Angela took over the restaurant when her husband passed away making sure the tradition that he worked so hard to build lived on. To Angela, it was critical to maintain the values, goals, and quality that her husband had worked so hard to build. Angela commented that people often ask her how she manages to do it all and she tells them, 'You have to keep your mind active.'
Activity is certainly rampant in this popular restaurant that stays busy from the time the doors open at 6 a.m. until the lunch rush ends and the doors close at 2 p.m. Angela isn't alone though, receiving a lot of much appreciated help from her employees.
Angela explained that the employees understand the quality and tradition that she is striving for and they more than help her in achieving that goal. Some of the employees have been with the restaurant for over 20 years solidifying the tradition. The manager, Law Adkins, started out as a bus boy and according to Angela, 'we started him out as a bus boy and we worked him right up to manager.'
Tradition and great employees certainly pleases the customers but it's the quality food that leaves them feeling satisfied as they walk out the door. The breakfast items include just about anything - bacon, eggs cooked any way, sausage, scrapple, waffles, hot cakes, and a variety of omelets. The great prices add to the enticement of the menu allowing you to feel satisfied when you leave, not broke. Low prices don't signify low quality though, which is evident in the lines of people that pour into the restaurant.
'Our quality has to be number one,' Angela said.
Although she spoke highly of all the items on the menu, she did focus on their famous recipe, the chipped beef. 'What we're famous for is our chipped beef,' she said.
The chipped beef is certainly a popular item on the menu, winning several accolades over the past few years and numerous attempts to retrieve the secret recipe.
'That's his own family recipe that his father taught him,' she explained.
Gus himself would make the delicacy from scratch every morning for over 30 years.
Angela said people always want to know how to make the famous chipped beef and Angela coyly tells them that they import the flour from somewhere in the south. As for any further details, her lips are sealed.
Last week provided a perfect example of just how popular the chipped beef is. Angela mentioned that the fire department recently requested 40 pounds of chipped beef to have for a celebration. Though 40 pounds may seem overwhelming to some, Angela was more than willing to help the hungry and deserving firemen.
Angela has been a part of the day-to-day activity at the General's Kitchen for the past 15 years and has noticed the changes that have come to the restaurant industry and to the town. Angela mentioned 30 of her loyal customers who have been vacationing here for years who sadly admitted to Angela that they would not be returning to Ocean City next year.
'It's just getting too expensive down here' they told her, referring not to the General's Kitchen's prices, but instead to the rising vacation costs. Angela is sad to see loyal customers go but she knows that she will continue, no matter what, in keeping her husband's tradition alive.