By Jessica Borders
Times West Virginian
The Executive Café is providing healthier breakfast and lunch options with fresh ingredients.
This new restaurant, located inside the Alan B. Mollohan Innovation Center in Fairmont’s I-79 Technology Park, had a soft opening earlier this month and celebrated its grand opening on May 17.
The business is run by owner Paul Braham and head chef Jack Rife, who are friends and formerly worked together.
They came up with the idea of serving simple, good food to people, and then everything kind of fell into place from there, Rife said. The restaurant has indoor and outdoor seating and is open 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., with breakfast served until 10:30 a.m. and lunch items available after that.
The business offers a large selection of meats and cheeses for panini sandwiches, and the fahini, which Rife invented and is basically like a grilled fajita. Its signature sandwich has become the buffalo chicken sandwich on multi-grain bread. Customers can also get cold wraps filled with meats and vegetables as well as salads.
“I genuinely love cooking,” Rife said.
He makes different soups every day from scratch using his own recipes, including the popular chicken spinach pesto soup, purple vegetable soup (which is purple because of the red cabbage), stuffed green pepper soup, seven pepper chili soup and bacon potato soup. In addition, people can order personal artisan pizzas, hummus with pita bread, french toast or the french toast breakfast sandwich.
Rife said the Executive Café doesn’t want to be classified as a health food restaurant, but considers itself to be a healthier alternative to fast food and wants to stick to a relatively healthy theme. A lot of thought went into the menu, which features food that is good and clean for the body and fills people up without making them tired at work.
The business only uses olive oil in its cooking, and uses high-quality, fresh, traditional ingredients.
“The best of everything that we can get goes into the food that we make,” Rife said.
“I genuinely care about the food we serve. I make everything like I’m making it for myself, like I’m making it for my family, no matter what sandwich it is or what soup it is.”
The extensive menu has also been created without the need for much equipment. The only equipment used is a regular panini grill, soup pot warmers, an induction plate, and a small electric pizza oven. No ventilation is required for the items cooked by the staff.
Besides Braham and Rife, the Executive Café has three other employees. The restaurant has a very nice, selective crew with 50 years of combined food experience, Rife said.
The Executive Café tries to support the local economy, which Rife said is very appreciative of small businesses.
“We love the commerce of Fairmont,” he said. “It’s a very personalized commerce system.”
While most of the Executive Café’s customers are people who work in the I-79 Technology Park, the general public is also welcome to eat there. When they enter the building, they just need to mention to the security guard that they’re going to the café.
Rife said persons stop by for breakfast and lunch, or even just to get coffee, pop or chips.
“I think people really appreciate that we’re here in this building and in this plaza, and people do come and utilize the restaurant,” he said. “They come down and they support us every day, one way or another.”
This operation marks his first time as head chef and is the first business that Braham has owned. Rife said he’s impressed with how the Executive Café was able to get up and running in a short amount of time, and he’d like to see similar restaurants in other office buildings.
In addition to people dining in, the restaurant also accepts call-in orders at 304-333-6481, ext. 6481.
Email Jessica Borders at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @JBordersTWV.