SHU professor opens Major Stokes restaurant in downtown Greensburg

James Bosco, owner of Major Stokes and assistant professor of hospitality and tourism at Seton Hill, hosted the Sisters of the Charity at the opening of the restaurant. Sister Maureen O’Brien raises her glass for a toast. Photo courtesy of J.Bosco.

With the opening of his restaurant Major Stokes in October 2018, Seton Hill professor James Bosco finally achieved his “lifelong dream.”

A portrait of Major Stokes hangs above the mantel. Photo by A.Karg/Setonian.

Bosco, an assistant professor of hospitality and tourism, has experience working in various restaurants. He said the dream of opening his own all started with “doodles in my college notebooks about restaurant concepts.”

Major Stokes is named after Major William Axon Stokes, a historical figure of Greensburg.

According to Bosco, Stokes owned a mansion that is currently St. Mary’s Hall and was visited by
Andrew Carnegie, and eventually became a general.

The restaurant itself is located at 108 West Pittsburgh Street in downtown Greensburg, which attracts a business crowd during the day, with college students and couples being drawn to bar scene in the evening. The live music is picked from acoustic jam nights on Wednesdays, where there is an open mic. Bosco was going for a “hip vibe” that can relate the restaurant to New York City style restaurant, which is shown in the overall atmosphere, such as the hand picked or donated furniture and live music.

The menu changes daily, which not only allows for people to expand their palettes, but also enables new items to be tried each time a customer comes back to the restaurant. The portions are small, because Bosco is a big advisor of food waste around the world, so not much will be left on the plates, reducing waste.

Bosco describes Major Stokes as “upscale fast casual.” Photo by A.Karg/Setonian.

Bosco also is working on creating a space outside the back of the restaurant, where he will be growing his own produce and herbs. He uses limited ingredients, since there is not a freezer or fryer in the buildings, which allows for fresh ingredients. Starting with a list of 130 recipes, he has narrowed it down to 54 from there.

People who are first timers to the restaurant may need some instructions for how to order their food, because it is not a typical server coming around to take orders. Instead, customers write down their orders and the servers come pick up the slips when they are ready.

“I’m trying to redefine a food service segment,” Bosco said. “I tried to slice in between fast casual and casual, so I call it ‘upscale fast casual.’ It’s upscale food, but it’s hybrid service, so instead of coming in and waiting in line, you come in, sit down and can instantly see the menu.”
Not only are the menu items ever changing, but so is the entertainment within the restaurant. Bosco hosts wine classes, Super Mario Kart, poetry readings and bring your own vinyl Thursdays.

“We really want a coffee shop vibe,” Bosco said. “We want people to come in and hang out, and I want students to find this to be a comfortable place to study.”

The SHU Art Club hand-painted the bar stool tops. Photo by A.Karg/Setonian.

Bosco is excited to expand his business to encourage environmentally friendly eating and to allow people from all different interests to enjoy his restaurant, and hopes to one day see his restaurant in two to three different cities, with all following his lead donating to charity.

By doing what he teaches, Bosco said this makes him more able to apply the concepts he is teaching to real examples he can experience, such as the “blood, sweat and tears” that go into it.

“I teach facility management, finance, design, customer service, inventory…so pretty much everything I’ve been teaching for the past 20 years I’ve just actually had to do,” Bosco said. “I think it’s made me a better teacher in that I do what I teach.”

Published By: Stephen Dumnich

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