Local restaurant owner brings variety to Statesboro

Derik Wuchte

Two well-known restaurants in Statesboro serve very different crowds and tastes, but neither fails to disappoint in quality, atmosphere or service.

“We’re identifying a niche the town needs. We wanted to bring a concept to Southern that was needed: good food at a good price,” Stephen Maepaa, general manager of 40 East Grill, said.

Prior to opening his own unique venues, Robinson was no stranger to the restaurant business. The proprietor of 40 East Grill and Bigshow’s Burgers grew up around restaurants and after years of working for other people, Robinson took a leap of faith and opened his first restaurant, the New York City Pizzeria on Brampton Ave. That was his first step in working up the restaurant chain.

While he was happy with the success of the New York City Pizzeria, Robinson didn’t plan on stopping there. About two years ago, the location on 40 East Main Street had space available and he opened his second restaurant, 40 East Grill.

40 East Grill’s menu offers a large variety of fresh foods. “For lunch, we got great soup, salads, sandwiches–deli-styled sandwiches. For dinner, we’re meat, starch and veg. It’s always fresh, never frozen,” Maenpaa said.

40 East Grill also features a large venue for special events called The Hall. Positioned behind the restaurant, The Hall is a spot mostly used for celebrations such as wedding ceremonies and parties for fraternities and other locally-owned restaurants.

“Any events you can think of, we host it,” Maenpaa said. Since 40 East Grill caters The Hall, it makes accessibility very easy.

“A lot of the caters don’t cook their own food. 40 East Grill takes care of it all. Rental of the room, staffing, beverages, food: everything. It’s unique because our price per person includes everything,” Maenpaa said.

With more experience as a restaurant owner under his belt and a better feel for what the Statesboro community wanted, Robinson decided to close the New York City Pizzeria and open a new burger restaurant, Bigshow’s Burgers, in its place.

“[Statesboro] needed it. We needed really good burgers, not fast food burgers,” Maenpaa said. With burgers and sandwiches, Bigshow’s offers all beef burgers with a large range of toppings as well as sandwiches. Robinson also recently expanded Bigshow’s with a second location on Lanier Drive.

“Everything is pretty much handmade, everything is really fresh and all of our sauces are made in house rather then store bought,” Erica Tracy, general manager of Bigshow’s Burgers, said.

Though both restaurants have the same owner and offer a few similar menu items, the atmosphere is what sets them apart. “At Bigshow’s, you just want to hang out with a bunch of people. [40 East Grill] is more for special occasions,” Maenppa said.

“[Bigshow’s] has really great food and a great atmosphere,” Jordyn Leonard, a server at Bigshow’s Burgers, said.

The differences allow Robinson and his staff to provide quality food and service to not only the Georgia Southern University community but also the Statesboro community as a whole.