Have you ever heard of the Roman Emperor Pupienus Maximus? Todd Huber, owner of PG café and art gallery, had never heard of him, either, until he started demolition on PG’s building at 1418 W. Franklin St.
“We didn’t have a name yet, and when we were doing demolition, we found this wallpaper that had Roman emperors on it,” he says. “One of the names was ‘Pupienus Maximus.’”
Pupienus Maximus reigned as co-emperor of Rome with Balbinus from April 22 to July 29 in 238 A.D. He and Balbinus were assassinated on the same day by soldiers of the Praetorian Guard.
Huber decided to name the café PG, as in Pupienus’ glove. Huber says it’s not known if Pupienus actually had a glove, but he likes the idea of “developing a weird story. It’s about creating a legendary myth” and being inspired as a result of someone else’s inspiration.
A native of the West Side, Huber graduated from Reitz High School in 1999 before moving to Bloomington, Boston, California, and Oregon. It was in Oregon that Huber had the idea of opening a café and art gallery.
“My girlfriend, Kate Horvath, and I were looking at starting a place in Portland, but my brother, who owns Tin Man, was going to demolish the PG building for a parking lot, so we decided to come back,” says Huber. “We thought this was the perfect spot so we were going to make this building work for us.”
“I grew up here, and as a kid there was basically nowhere to hang out on Franklin Street,” says Huber. “We want to be the place that attracts both younger and older generations.”
After starting demolition in March 2012, PG opened its doors on March 15 of this year. The goal is to put on one to three events each weekend, ranging from art shows to live bands and even some open mic nights. Huber wants the customer to experience something that’s comfortable and enjoyable, where people can come sit down and work or just hang out.
“We want people to focus on doing something they wouldn’t do at other bars or galleries,” says Huber. So far, there have been four experimental open mic nights. These have allowed participants to produce video art, electronic music, and other kinds of art.
Besides offering entertainment, PG also serves food and beer, wine, homemade sodas, and coffee. All of its meals are made from scratch and are “as socially and environmentally responsible as possible,” says Horvath, the kitchen manager. She is self-taught in the culinary arts.
The lunch menu changes almost daily, but the breakfast menu will usually stay the same, consisting of omelets, hash browns, waffles, and more. Lunches always offer a soup, pasta, and a salad as well as other often-changing options, too. The smoked salmon has been a popular item and the grilled cheese with jalapeno poppers is quickly becoming a favorite.
Overall, PG hopes to encourage experimentation in Evansville.
“We try to be different,” says Huber. “Our art is something that you won’t find at other galleries.”
PG also has plans to expand in the near future. A second floor of the building will need to be made handicap accessible before it can be used during opening hours.
“Eventually, we would like to have little PG’s all over town, a little empire,” Huber laughs.
For more information about PG, call 402-4445 or visit pgeville.com.