By Kathy Johnson
Everyone has that favorite pair of shoes, the pair you reach for when you want to be yourself and just feel comfortable. Then there comes a time when you just have to break in a new pair. They don’t feel right immediately, but after a while you wonder why you waited so long.
Dr. Ho’s Humble Pie in North Garden is going through that new shoe feel. Owners Nancy and Michael McCarthy say that the regulars are grumbling about the change. They liked it the way it was.
“It’s a new space,” says Nancy, “but it hasn’t changed. The soul of the place is still the same.”
A greatly expanded area with new tables and chairs is now open just next to the old location at 4916 Plank Road and in the future a new doorway will be opened to include the old space.
“Our mission has always been to make really great food for the masses,” said Nancy. “We just needed more room.”
“Everything here is made from scratch, lunch and dinner,” said Michael. “We do our best not to take any shortcuts. We make our own breads, all our desserts and we use fresh pineapple—as much fresh local produce and ingredients as possible.”
Michael met Nancy when he was working at the Ivy Inn and she was waiting tables there. After they were married, they bought Dr. Ho’s and had kids.
Both McCarthys take food seriously, but there is a glint in Michael’s eye that says business may be business, but he’s going to have fun while he’s working to put out what he believes to be some of the best food in the county.
For a number of years Dr. Ho’s has been recognized as the “best in” some category. When these awards come their way, they celebrate with a new photo. One hanging over the office door features the chef and the kitchen staff wearing their best birthday smiles with appropriately placed pizza boxes that give the photo a “G” rating.
Just outside the bathrooms, colorfully drawn paper plates created by guests and their children decorate the wall. “Sometimes they come back to see if they are still here,” said Michael. That’s a trend they plan on keeping. It’s a family thing.
Nancy explained that many of their customers are like ‘family’ and some of the ‘family’ is not too happy with the changes. But the McCarthys didn’t like it that people were having to wait, and they hope to make some changes that their customers will approve of and enjoy.
They are adding a few new items to the menu–and not eliminating any old favorites–including more healthy choices, gluten-free products, vegetarian offerings, and things like arugula and roasted sweet potato salad, spicy fried calamari or a butternut squash pizza pie.
Brunch is offered on Saturday and Sunday with some brunch specials, but the regular menu is still being offered. Live local music is also being added–slowly at first–on Wednesday evenings from 7 to 9 p.m. with no cover charge.