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Putting the Grandkids to Work

When Molly and Cappy Ruppert revived a dilapidated restaurant, they made it a family affair


spinner image molly and cappy ruppert stand in front of their restaurant
The Rupperts’ cafe is open during school summer break.
RYAN DONNELL

Raymond “Cappy” Ruppert: My family owned a hardware store in Washington, D.C., but business in the neighborhood dropped off, and the store eventually closed.

Molly Ruppert: In the ’90s, my son Paul and I turned the vacant warehouse into a 120-seat theater and an art gallery. We also opened a foodie restaurant by taking over the first floor of Cappy’s real estate office and making him move upstairs. The restaurant became pretty well known, and we sold it to the chef.

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Cappy: We raised our kids in D.C., but we’ve had a summer cottage an hour away, near the Chesapeake Bay, for the last 50 years.

Molly: To be honest, the idea for our current restaurant on the bay was an accident.

Cappy: We have a little boat and would pass by the building on our way to the beach. We’d see this shuttered restaurant, with docks sinking into the water more and more every year.

Cappy: In 2013, we saw that the property was for sale. So we said, Oh, this is a project. I had just finished 54 years in the construction and property management business and was ready to retire.

Molly: But I like starting impossible businesses, and he likes building impossible buildings.

Cappy: We ran into lots of trouble with the plans and the engineering. We didn’t break ground until 2018, and it took two years to rebuild after that. Then we opened in the middle of the pandemic and couldn’t find any help. But we’ve got six children and 18 grandchildren, and we pressed many of our grandchildren into service. That’s why we’re open only in the summertime. Kids go back to school after that.

Molly: I jokingly told my children, “I know you are grateful for what I’ve done for your children. None of them are going to want to go into the restaurant business.”

Cappy: The kids have learned a lot over the last couple of years, though.

Molly: It’s great when you have the opportunity to do something new, don’t you think? One of the reasons that we do these things is that it’s a challenge.

Cappy: But it’s also fun. I get a lot of enjoyment out of working and helping people, and people show their appreciation. The restaurant is doing well. It’s a comfortable atmosphere.

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Molly: Do I think I can do whatever I set my mind to? I have no idea. I just like to do things and he likes to build things. I’m good with failure. I’ve had plenty of it in my life, and lots of successes.

spinner image plate of four fried green tomatoes
RYAN DONNELL

Cappy’s Fried Green Tomatoes With Fresh Crabmeat

Makes 4 appetizers

Ingredients

  • 2 medium-size green tomatoes
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 16 ounces lump crabmeat

Directions

Slice green tomatoes to desired thickness. Combine cornmeal and flour in a shallow bowl. Add salt and pepper and combine. Dredge tomato slices in mixture.

Heat a large skillet over medium, then add butter and oil. Fry slices long enough for them to soften some and lightly brown.

Drain on paper towels, then top with fresh crabmeat.

Nutrients per serving: 270 calories, 20g protein, 30g carbohydrates, 3g fiber, 8g fat, 85mg cholesterol, 740mg sodium

Raymond “Cappy” Ruppert, 86, is a retired builder and property manager. His wife, Molly, 85, puts together art shows. They own Cappy’s on Rockhold Creek in Deale, Maryland.

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