Hard Work Equals Success for Main Street Grille Owners Tom and Roselie Halik

— Susan London • susan.london@rolesvillebuzz.com • July 2017

Part 8 in a Series on Local Small Business Success Stories

The Main Street Grille

The Main Street Grille on South Main/ U.S. 1A,
open since the fall of 2010, is one
of Wake Forest’s popular restaurants.
Photos by Susan London

Along U.S. 1A in Wake Forest, less than a mile from the N.C. 98 bypass heading toward downtown, is an unassuming strip mall anchored by a gas station and inhabited by a nail salon, a Chinese restaurant and a diner. The diner is no greasy spoon, and the owners are no fry cooks.

The Main Street Grille, open since the fall of 2010, is owned by Tom Halik and his wife, Roselie. They are the kind of people who, when newcomers meet them for the first time, seem as though they’ve been friends for years. Indeed, family friend Natalie Valchar describes the Haliks as quintessential hosts. “It’s clear they really care about people,” she said.

It’s appropriate, then, that the art of feeding people has shaped their lives.

Tom Halik found a love for cooking when he started preparing food for his fraternity house. When he got a job making sandwiches in a gourmet food store frequented by staff of the French embassy, one of the members ended up referring him to a well-known cooking school in Paris. “It was a God shot,” Tom said.

He graduated from the acclaimed École de Cuisine La Varenne in 1982 and was chef at the U.S. Embassy in Iceland before settling at the Fifth Avenue Epicure in Manhattan. There, he met Roselie, for whom he credits much of his success.

“We became instant friends,” Tom said.  “My wife is an incredible graphic artist. She’s wildly talented. Unfortunately, she’s always in the background, and I get the limelight. … She deserves 90% of the credit.”

The Main Street Grille Pizzeria off Highway 98 in Wake Forest
also serves as their catering headquarters.

Together, they opened Just Rugelach, Inc., a bakery specializing in a pastry made from a sour cream or cream cheese dough that they sold at the Greenmarket farmer’s market locations throughout New York City for nearly 13 years.

The couple might have spent the rest of their lives near New York, but when the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks happened, things changed. Their second daughter was just six weeks old, and “it felt like the end of the world,” Tom said. In 2008, they sold their business and moved to North Carolina.

Unable to stay away from the restaurant industry for long, they opened the Main Street Grille in 2010 in the small space attached to the gas station.

The restaurant is reminiscent of both a Southern kitchen and a Manhattan deli, and their North Carolina venture draws the same long lines that graced their market stands in New York. On any given morning, people snake around the corner waiting to place orders. Inside, a long counter display is filled with all sorts of pastries, baked fresh overnight. The bustling, noisy kitchen behind the display is filled with staff cooking breakfast and lunch items, and the dining room off to the left is busy with customers.

The Bake Shoppe

The Haliks soon will open The Bake Shoppe in the old Daylight Donuts/Sugar On Top location
at 2010 South Main Street in Wake Forest.

But it’s a tight space, and the need for more room – a driving force in their business – led them to expand the 35-seat restaurant to 75 within the first year. And they opened the Main Street Grille Pizzeria off Highway 98 when Tom needed a larger kitchen for their booming catering business.

And now, they are on the verge of opening The Bake Shoppe in the old Daylight Donuts/Sugar On Top location at 2010 South Main Street, a space Tom has had his eye on for a while and which will allow customers to buy their baked goods without waiting in the line at the Grille.

“I wanted to open something that has a different feel from here, that has some breads, that has some savory goods, that has a vibe,” he said, adding that he’d like to offer more European items.

While Tom handles the cooking, Roselie, a graduate of the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, Philippines, is busy overseeing the administrative part of the business. A self-taught artist, she also creates the signage and promotional materials and designs the floor layouts of the restaurants.

She attributes their success to hard work, something she learned from her experiences in New York. “Everything in New York is hands on. If you make a decision or make a mistake, you have to figure out how to deal with it right then and there,” Roselie said.

The Haliks are happy to have found a welcoming home in Wake Forest, where their four kids often can be found helping in the restaurants. Last year, Tom, along with friend and fellow chef Franz Propst and chef Ryan Summers, won the North Carolina Got To Be NC Competition Dining Series. And they are happy to be able to help in the community, volunteering efforts and providing food at school functions.

“Tom is not happy unless he’s helping someone,” Roselie said.