A Fresh Start for Just South of the Border

Photo Ready to enjoy a taco bowl at Just South of the Border is Dan McDonald, owner of Ever-Green Auto Glass in Charlotte. Presenting the bowl is Just South of the Border owner Antony Noyes. (Photo by Lura Jackson).

By Lura Jackson

 Spring is the season of rebirth, and so it is appropriate that one of Calais’s local eateries is enjoying a fresh perspective as a result of recently coming under new ownership. Previously owned by Gary Young, Just South of the Border is now being operated by former employee Antony “Tony” Noyes. 

As its name indicates, Just South of the Border is a Mexican-themed restaurant. In addition to a selection of Southwestern and seafood-based cuisine, it offers a variety of mixed drinks and domestic beers, all of which expertly complement its occasional offerings of live music and Thursday night karaoke sessions. The kitchen has been completely remodeled and new equipment has been installed, making it easier for staff and reducing wait time for customers. While Noyes isn’t planning on any other major changes in the immediate future, he does have a few things in mind to streamline the business and draw in new customers.

One of Noyes’s first goals is to redo the menu by simplifying it and focusing on the most popular dishes. There are several dishes that customers repeatedly come in for – including the hamburgers, chimichangas, fajitas, and the seafood, among others. “Some people say we have the best fish and chips in town,” Noyes said. Another favorite is the chili, especially following a recent tweaking of the recipe. “People can’t get enough of the chili now.” 

For the Bernards, visiting from St. Stephen, it isn’t any one particular dish that brings them back once or twice a week. “We like the stir fry, the hamburgers, the nachos. Anything is good here,” they shared. Last year, just after Noyes purchased the restaurant, the Bernards came to partake in the American Thanksgiving meal. “It was the best we’d ever had. We’ll definitely be back again next year.” Part of the appeal to Canadian customers is that Noyes offers 90 cents as his exchange rate.

As a talented singer himself, Noyes hopes to offer more live music to his patrons in the coming months. He is open to any kind of music, but prefers easy-going, comfortable music styles. “I would love to get musicians in here on Sundays,” Noyes said. “Even just somebody with a guitar and a microphone that could create a nice and relaxing atmosphere.” For those times when a live musician is not present, Noyes will be getting a jukebox.

One of the most important ongoing goals for Noyes is cultivating a family-friendly, calm atmosphere, and as such, he discourages discussions about religion and politics, particularly as a result of the divisive national political scene. “I do appreciate the kids coming in here,” Noyes said. Customer service is one of Noyes’s specialties and he personally greets each incoming customer when possible. “I enjoy that part a lot,” he said. So, too, do his customers, many of whom are returning patrons.

Looking forward, Noyes aims to remodel the interior and the bathroom, in addition to removing the booths and installing tables and chairs to add more seating. In the meantime, Noyes is seeking employees to be a part of his kitchen staff. “I’m looking for people who are motivated and willing to learn, who would be willing to do multiple positions.”

For many in the community, Just South of the Border has been a favorite place to visit for years. On Facebook, the restaurant has a 4.6 star rating from 66 reviews, with “nachos”, “karaoke” and “great music” being the most popular subjects. The restaurant has received two awards from TripAdvisor for its outstanding themed-fare. 

Just South of the Border is located at 449 Main Street. If you are interested in playing music at the restaurant, joining the staff, or with any other inquiries, call 454-0688 or visit its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/JustSouthOfTheBorder.