‘MAX on Main’ set to open…very soon

By Stephen Baldwin, RealWV

“I feel like I’ve got something to prove,” says Ken Santmyer, owner of MAX on Main. 

Ken’s grandfather opened the first Gino’s Pizzeria & Spaghetti House in Huntington in 1961. His father opened his own location in 1973. Ken not only worked in his family restaurants, but he has also built menus and opened restaurants. This one feels different for him. 

“I’ve put so much into this,” he says. “Everything I’ve learned my entire life has gone into MAX.” 

“You’re learning and changing all the time,” he reflects. “Trends change, menus change, tastes change. But quality food and a good vibe is always what people want.” 

The Spa City Comeback

Downtown White Sulphur Springs is in the midst of a second transformation since the June 2016 flood. Following an initial round of development involving The Schoolhouse Hotel, 50 East, new downtown storefronts developed by Charlie Hammerman, Big Draft Brewing, Road Hogs BBQ, and more, times are changing…once again. 

New owners are taking over The Schoolhouse. Big Draft and Road Hogs closed. Gustard’s Bistro took over for 50 East. The brewery is set for a comeback under new leadership. The former Bones Diner is being developed by The Schoolhouse. Erin Lovell has opened The Lunchbox to rave reviews. And now MAX on Main is making a major statement downtown. 

“It’s a good time for White Sulphur,” Ken says. “Some of those changes hurt morale initially, but the town is bouncing back. Look, the more restaurants we have, the better.”

MAX’s Menu

Since he comes from a family of restaurateurs, Ken wanted to honor that family tradition in this new venture. “Maxwell” is a family name going back generations. “It fits what we’re doing here, ‘MAX on Main.’ This place is a whole vibe.” 

So as you would expect, he’s chomping at the bit to open. “It’s going to be so good.” 

The full menu will be released once they open, but guests can expect 12-inch wood-fired pizzas (specialty and build your own), hoagies, salads, steaks (from Mountain Steer), veal, pork chops, pasta dishes, wine/beer/liquor/cocktails, and…brunch. 

Ken mentioned his brunch menu half a dozen times during our interview. And while I’m sworn to secrecy on specific menu items, suffice it to say that brunch at MAX on Main will be unique…popular. 

Not only will most everything on the menu be made from scratch, but Ken will also heavily-utilize vendors from throughout West Virginia. 

“We’ll use Mountain Steer and Swift Level for our meats, Mountain Folk for coffee, Brunetti’s in Kenova for breads, Angelo’s in Charleston for sausages, and of course West Virginia beers on draft,” he says. 

A feature wall beside the bar incorporates this unique wallpaper, which Ken thinks captures the unique nature of the restaurant. Photo by RealWV.

Casual, upscale dining 

Guests can dine indoors or outdoors. Ken built a large patio, accessed via a garage door, from the dining space and bar. It will include outdoor dining, a privacy fence, and an entertainment stage. 

“People love eating outdoors these days,” Ken says. “COVID seemed to really change that. I don’t know why we didn’t do it more before then, but I’m glad we do it more now. It’s enjoyable! So we’re going to offer lots of outdoor dining.”

Ken says that’s not the only thing that has changed in dining. “People don’t want white cloth dining. They want to be comfortable and casual, but still get good quality food.” 

The decor matches the food–fresh. “The building was built in 1905,” Ken says, “Wormy chestnut beams, cathedral ceilings.”

So they decided to expose the brick and electrical, add unique light fixtures, build concrete countertops, and add fresh colors. 

It’s been a two-year process opening MAX. “I want to get out of the construction business and get back into the restaurant business,” Ken jokes. 


So when will MAX on Main officially open the doors?

“The sooner, the better,” Ken says. “I’m almost ready to go.” 

Expect a soft opening later this month, followed by a full opening soon thereafter. Takeout will begin a few weeks after the grand opening. They will be open Thursday-Monday, including brunch on Sunday.

MAX on Main is located on…you guessed it…Main Street. Parking is available on the street and behind the restaurant. 

For more information, visit MAX on Main via their Facebook page.


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