“I didn’t get a casino, but I got this—I’m happy that my wife and I can make a living on Cape Cod,” John Marcellino told me when we talked at the Station Grill on Depot Avenue, which he owns. “We opened in the summer of 2018, and for a while we were really struggling to get people in—it’s just a depot, you know!”
So John decided to partner with the bus company. “Our story is a classic—last year we were open year-round, but the winter was very hard. My wife, Marion, worked the restaurant, and I did some transportation work around town. But we made it!” he said with a broad smile. “Now it’s a little different—as of July 31 this past summer, I signed on with Peter Pan to be the station master!”
That means that John is the one who will be selling you your bus ticket, should you decide to use that mode of transportation to get on and off the Cape. He is no stranger to the hospitality business. Regular readers of this column may remember that I wrote about John several years ago, when he worked as an ambassador for Roche Brothers in Mashpee.
Now, John is passionate about making his customers’ experience unique: “The place is immaculate, and there are fresh flowers everywhere. I want this to be the place you want to hang around at!” And this goes back to the food. “There’s excellence in everything we do: from the food, which is the best quality ingredients to our high level of customer service.”
“We have an open kitchen in the station, and a grill outside. We are getting well known for our curried chicken sandwich. Marion is from Jamaica, and her dish is a true curry stew, with all white meat,” John explained. “We also sell a lot of our breakfast sandwiches—the pulled pork egg and cheese is the most popular. For lunch we offer traditional sandwiches and some specials including our pulled pork with gravy and a Fat Daddy cheeseburger. And our lobster roll is moving on up the list, too.”
John said the lobster comes from a fellow tribal fisherman from Harwich. “Our lobster is completely local—we break it down here and serve just the claw, knuckles and tail meat. We try to do as much as we can locally—in the summer we get our vegetables from The Sunny Farm in Hatchville. And all our eggs come from DaSilva Farm.”
And a lot of eggs are cooked at the Station Grill. “The first week we opened we had six eggs. At the end of the week we had four—that meant we sold two! Now we do between 20 and 70 a week in the summer. People like the linguiça eggs and cheese—one of our bus drivers, Luis, has been doing his route for 35 years. He gets me linguiça from a market in New Bedford. It’s the best!”
The bus depot fronts the parking lot, and also the bike path. “We’ve added tables and a window, so we can serve beverages, sandwiches, ice cream, and kindness,” John said. “It’s a sanctuary of sorts—when there is rain or thunder, people come in. We’ve had as many as 30 bikers in here at once.”
John said he adds a little something special to every sandwich. “Many of our sandwiches are moistened with just a touch of pot roast gravy,” he explained. “After we roast our pork and turkey and chicken, we use the drippings to make a gravy. That goes on both breakfast and lunch sandwiches, and our customers love it!”
Now he’s planning soups for winter. “When I can get clams, I’ll be making quahog chowder, and probably clam pies as well,” he said. If you haven’t been in to the bus station recently, it’s well worth a trip—even for ice cream in November. “Gifford’s ice cream is world class,” John declared. “It’s made in Maine, where they have been in business for over 100 years.”
You need to visit the Station Grill to experience the food, as that special spoonful of pot roast gravy would be hard to duplicate at home. Should you want to try, here are a few of John and Marion’s recipes that are popular. I also asked John for a traditional Wampanoag dish, which he graciously provided.
Marion’s Curried Chicken Sandwich
3 lbs chicken breast
2 TBSP curry powder
2 medium onions
5 sprigs of thyme
5 cloves crushed garlic
1 tsp salt
2 tsp seasoned salt (or your favorite all-purpose seasoning)
½ cup each: lemon juice and chopped green onions
1 cup chopped white onion
¼ cup olive oil
1 cup water
2 TBSP flour
Fresh bulky rolls
Lettuce and sliced tomato
Rinse chicken and pat dry; slice into 3-inch medallions. Brush with lemon juice, and rub with curry powder, all-purpose seasoning, and salt. In a large bowl, toss chicken, onion, green onion, thyme, and garlic and let stand in refrigerator for 1 hour. In a large skillet, bring oil to medium heat and add all ingredients from bowl. Sauté for about 15 minutes or until chicken is brown and onions are soft.
Mix flour with water and stir in to make gravy; add more flour and water if necessary, gravy should be lightly thick. Simmer for 15 minutes. Serve as a entrée with rice and salad, or make as a sandwich with lettuce and tomato, and a drizzle of ranch dressing.
The Station Grill Lobster Roll
8 oz fresh local lobster meat
2 TBSP Hellman’s mayonnaise
2 slices of Texas-style/thick bread
2 TBSP salted butter
Pinch of salt and pepper
Spread butter on bread on both sides and brown on each side, then set on plate. Break lobster meat into bite-size pieces and place in a medium-size mixing bowl. Add mayonnaise and salt and pepper; toss to mix and serve on toasted bread.
Wampanoag Clam Cakes
(serves 3 to 4)
1 ½ cups chopped quahogs with juice
4 cups baking mix (Bisquick)
2 cups milk
½ cup sautéed chopped white onion
2 pinches of salt, black pepper, and garlic powder
1 cup olive oil
In a large skillet, bring olive oil to medium high heat. In a large bowl mix all remaining ingredients—should be consistent, like pancake batter. With a large spoon, pour clam batter into hot oil--cakes should be 3-4 inches in size. When the edges are browned and bubbles appear on the surface, turn the pancakes and cook for 4 minutes again, or until cakes are firm, like pancakes. Serve hot with freshly squeezed lemon, or tartar sauce.