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Tucked away in a charming corner at Sturbridge Marketplace

Delicious, wholesome soups, sandwiches, quiches and pies

served up in a cozy café atmosphere

that’s ‘Soup to Nuts’

By Richard Murphy It is true that Sturbridge is not a hot spot for the sidewalk cafe. The closest we come is not even on the sidewalk. It is indoors in an old mill. Still, one can sit at its tables and watch as the world goes by. Well, the world does not go by, but shop- pers in the Sturbridge Marketplace do. For this little spot has its tables fronting on the walkway where patrons stroll past. Sure, it’s a stretch to call Soup to Nuts a sidewalk cafe, but so what. It’s even better in some ways. Okay, so the decor is hardly gallic sophisti- cation. Rather it is rustic American in keeping with its surroundings. Maybe it is not Paris,but in mid win- ter it is a lot more cozy to sit inside where it is warm. What makes it even cozier is the specialty of the house. Soup to Nuts is well known for the luscious soups it serves. I had heard about the soups from several people, but had never sat down to try them. In mid September I took my daughter to the old mill building and we sat at one of the cafe tables and perused the menu. They had a deal for the soup starved. You could order two varieties and have it with another item as well. The day’s specials were cream of broccoli, corn chowder and tomato florentine. I asked for the broc and the chowder and had a ham quiche made with swiss cheese. The daughter ordered toma- to florentine which came with bread. My daughter ordered unsweet- ened iced tea. In keeping with the side walk cafe meme, I ordered a glass of cabernet to go with my meal. Val, our waitress, took our orders and returned soon with drinks. She brought our orders in due time,and we set to compare our choices. We’re family and gauche when out together, so we happily shared and compared. Our verdict was not long in com- ing. People who praised the soups were being reasonable in their com-

en salad. Beverages range from the above mentioned wine and iced tea to hot chocolate and Sam Adams. It goes without saying,dis- cernment is necessary in pairing food with drink. John Quinlivan is the man behind this operation. According to John, “You won’t find another deli seating 40 people around

Sturbridge with only two people running it.” WithVal Butler,it is the picture of efficiency. In the cur- rent economy, it can be nothing else to survive. John is not a native Sturbridger and it was a few twists and turns before he got here. At age 14 in upstate New York, he got a call Continued on page 21

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“The menu has a full complement of sandwiches and salads, from“real” turkey breast to cranberry walnut chicken salad. Beverages range from wine and iced tea to hot chocolate and Sam Adams.”

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STURBRIDGE MARKETPLACE
RT. 20 STURBRIDGE
508.347.9655
OutstandingSelection
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Open7DaysAWeeksince
pliments. I wondered why it had
taken me so long to make a pil-
grimage to this nook in Fiskdale.
After all, Soup to Nuts has been in
business 28 years. It has stood the
test of time.
Of course, I was premature as
soup and quiche do not necessari-
ly a whole meal make. There were
deserts and I am a sucker for pie.
Selections were apple and peach
and blueberry that day and I
ordered the peach. The peach fill-
ing was good,but I loved the crust,
which to my mind is the most
important thing for a pie maker to
get right. For that matter, the
quiche crust was also excellent.
Quiche and soup and pie are
not the sum total of menu choices.
Had we been earlier, a bagel with
cream cheese could have been
ordered or a homemade muffin to
go with coffee. The menu has a
full complement of sandwiches
and salads, from “real” turkey
breast to cranberry walnut chick-
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PHOTO BY RICHARD MURPHY John Quinlivan and Val Butler keep things humming in the kitchen
PHOTO BY RICHARD MURPHY
John Quinlivan and Val Butler keep things humming in the kitchen at Soup to Nuts, a favorite Sturbridge eatery.
Soup to Nuts: the place to meet for a great lunch
Continued from page 19
from his brother working at the local restau-
rant of the Scotch and Sirloin chain. The broth-
er wanted John to come and wash dishes. It
was not the brother doing John a favor, he
asked because he knew how hard and respon-
sible a worker his sibling was. John stayed on.
The staff took him under their wing and he
kept on getting promoted.
Attending a two year college in his home
area, John continued his career. Eventually he
transferred to the UMass Harbor Campus. This
hardly inhibited a culinary experience.
Continuing to rise in management ranks, John
ran the famous Tap Off Lunches of legendary
Celtics coach, Red Auerbach.
Though he studied Poli- Sci at UMass,he was
doing way too well in the restaurant biz. That’s
why it’s not Senator John Quinlivan.
Government’s loss was Sturbridge’s gain. Fate,
in one of its usual guises stepped in. He was
dating a Clarkie in Worcester and left Boston.
This led to a Route 20 romance as he was hired
as general manager at Ephraim’s in Sudbury.
In 1982 he and a colleague bought MJ’s Fruit
and Nuts and turned it into Soup to Nuts. His
partner left with one of the waitresses to start a
Soup to Nuts on the Cape and we have our ver-
sion as it is now. Val came aboard eight years
ago and John is unstinting in praise of her ded-
ication and professionalism as I am of her crust.
The pies and quiche are her handiwork as the
soups and other offerings are his.
John and Val obviously take pleasure and
pride in Soup to Nuts. Val loves to tell about the
comments of people who praise the soups. She
mentioned folks who purchase large orders of
the chicken soup and claimed it cured what ails
them. This should be known by people outside
of Sturbridge. I’m notifying the CDC. The
Center for Disease Control should start trials
now.
Eat, Drink & Buy
LOCALLY OWNED.
Support your neigh-

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