Michael Duplaga’s parents probably aren’t surprised at where he is today, opening the new G-Top Restaurant just across from West Liberty University’s main campus. “My mom reminds me all the time that when I was little, I was either dressing up as a police officer or going around with a note pad, pretending to take food orders from anyone who would play along,” says Duplaga. Today, he is the General Manager of the new Generations on the Hilltop, or G-Top – and he’s also a part-time police officer for the city of Bridgeport, Ohio.
Duplaga, the fourth-generation Michael in a line of Duplaga restaurateurs, has been managing at the family’s flagship, Generations, in Wheeling’s Fulton area since about 2009. When WLU President Dr. Stephen Greiner approached the Duplagas about opening a satellite in the former Roadworthy Tavern near campus, the idea seemed to fit with a planned strategy of trying some new things. The youngest Michael in the line, at age 27, was tapped to breathe new life into the empty building, which was ready and waiting for something good to happen.
In two short months, Duplaga brought together the resources needed, culminating in this week’s grand opening. “There was nothing here but tables and chairs. About half of the kitchen equipment worked; the rest had missing or broken parts, so we had to replace that. It’s surprising how quickly the cost of the little things adds up when you are starting from scratch, like salt and pepper shakers and caddies, for example,” Duplaga shared. “But we are probably 90% stocked with what we need at this point. We are ready to go and ready to welcome everyone from the university and the community.”
Duplaga credits a great working relationship with the university for Generations venture’ up the hill. “The university is committed to having us here and to us being successful,” said Duplaga. “We think this will be a great business opportunity. And we aren’t just targeting the campus. We are hoping that people from all the surrounding communities – from West Liberty and Bethany, to Warwood, Clearview, Woodsdale and beyond – will come up and enjoy great food, music, and Generations-style special nights. We have a fantastic outdoor porch that will be great for fall, spring, and summer nights.”
Speaking to a group of West Liberty Tourism and Event Management students on Wednesday, Duplaga talked about the challenges of running a restaurant. “Probably the biggest challenge, especially in the restaurant business, is finding good employees – managing no call/no shows, preventing theft, handling personal issues. Our first dishwasher lasted one night, so tonight we will all be pitching in and doing dishes,” Duplaga told the students. “That is one thing you find out pretty quickly – things will happen, and when they do, you have to be prepared on a moment’s notice to do a different job. But the upside is that the job is fun – things are always changing. Every day there is something new when you are managing a restaurant. That’s why I love it.”
The G-Top is open 4 – 10 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday and 11 a.m. – 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday for dining. The bar will remain open until 2 a.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday.