Williamsburg's Second Street Cafe Has Mass Appeal

By Patricia B. Mitchell, 1990.

In an era when specialization and niche marketing are bywords of the world economy, Mickey and John Chohany of Williamsburg's Second Street Cafe (see their website) are successfully defying popular wisdom. According to personable Mickey, their success is due to the restaurant's mass — rather than narrow-targeted — appeal. “We have something for everyone,” Mickey promises.

In the mid-1980s he and John bought the restaurant from the golfer Curtis Strange and three partners. Experience in the food service and restaurant business enabled the Chohanys to develop recipes, menu, decor, and atmosphere to attract a large following of local patrons as well as out-of-towners.

One of the two owners is always on the premises. Mickey, a youthful, trim host, is health-conscious. He especially enjoys seafood because "it's better for you" and even loves to nibble a plain raw carrot. Lest you think the restaurant is just a health-nut hangout, consider this: We ate there the best carrot cake, with cream cheese and walnut icing, which we have ever slipped between our lips!

Other cakes and pies are also made in the home kitchen of a former Second Street Cafe manager who now supplies the restaurant's baked desserts.

Mickey says that nachos are a popular menu item, but that everything on the menu sells well. Choices ranging from an Italian omelette to French onion soup to teriyaki kabob are available.

The times that my crew and I have been there we have opted for the “multiple-choice” you-select-it “Thruway” sandwiches. For a set price of $3.95 you specify the type of bread you want (whole wheat, rye, hoagie, Kaiser, or onion roll) and two meats and two cheeses. Meats include turkey, ham, roast beef, hard salami, corned beef, or bacon.

Cheeses are Monterey Jack, Cheddar, or Swiss. Chips and cole slaw are included, or a baked potato can be substituted. The sandwiches are ample and delicious, the ambience warm and welcoming. You will find yourself returning again and again for a good time at Mickey's and John's. The hours are 11 a.m. – 2 a.m. every day except Sunday, when Second Street opens at 4 p.m. (Holiday hours may vary).

The eatery is in the general area of the Colonial Williamsburg Visitors Center. The address is 140 Second Street; or you may visit the brothers' new restaurant, the Polo Club at 135 Colony Square Shopping Center on Jamestown Road.

If you live in Tidewater Virginia, the enterprising, energetic pair will cater your next party or big event. These people-loving brothers do have something good for everyone.