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Mealey's Table closes, will reopen in July

Tuesday - 6/5/2012, 2:00am  ET

NEW MARKET -- Mealey's Table in New Market has closed, it but will reopen under new management in July.

Jack Hand, who will be the executive chef for the new restaurant, said he hoped the landmark restaurant would open the first week of July.

Hand, grandson of Carl Miller, who owns the building, has been an executive chef at George Stevens Academy, a prep school in Blue Hill, Maine.

Trained at Johnson Wales, a noted culinary school, Hand is a certified chef and has been in the business 10 years.

Hand said many things are still being finalized, but he said the restaurant decor will be remodeled. Hand said he couldn't say whether the name would remain.

"We will take it back to the traditional Mealey's menu," said Hand, who grew up in the New Market area.

"We will have cream of crab soup, onion soup, crab cakes, the traditional meals," Hand said.

Mayor Winslow Burhans III said the town would do what it could to help the business.

"I was told about it late last week," Burhans said in a telephone interview Monday. "I feel sad for Patrick. He worked very hard."

The mayor was referring to Patrick Forest, who with partner Lorraina Hull, had reopened the restaurant a few months ago.

People were glad to see Mealey's reopen after three years, but they were not prepared for the high-end menu the new operators offered, said Susan Witmer, one of two managers who will begin to offer a new menu in early July.

"People are really looking for the more traditional menu -- seafood, steak, mashed potatoes, pork roast, sauerkraut, prime rib, crab imperial -- more of the homestyle food, and we're looking to offer Sunday dinner," Witmer said.

The former owners offered wonderful food, Witmer said, but it wasn't what was expected in that building.

Witmer will put her 35 years of restaurant experience to use in the new operation.

"We're looking to welcome customers into a traditional atmosphere that's been in Frederick County for many years," Witmer said.

The restaurant will hire about 20 employees initially. As the business grows, more workers will be added, Witmer said.

"The good news is that the last time the business closed, it closed for three years; this time, it will be closed for three weeks," New Market commissioner David Price said.

"The quick turnaround is the result of having local ownership of the landmark."

Unlike a bank that can afford to have the property sit unoccupied for any length of time, the building's owner "wants it to work and the town wants it to work," Price said.

"I feel bad for all the people who put so much hard work into it," Price said.

"Our deepest appreciation goes out to all of the farmers from whom we've sourced, including Judy at England acres, Ben at South Mountain Creamery, Brad Parker at Pipe Dreams, the folks at Tuscarora, The Freshlink, Earth N Eats and Smith Meadows. We'd also like to thank the support from--Black Ankle, Bordeleau and Elk Run vineyards, who all helped us-- greatly through the first month of operation before we acquired our liquor license," said Forest in an email Monday.

He thanked those in the community, including area farmers who assisted in efforts to deliver the fresh local ingredients. He also thanked Burhans and Price as well as his wife, Erin, and two sons.

"I would like to thank the incredible staff who believed so strongly for what we achieved and sacrificed so much of their time away from their families," he wrote.

Mealey's had been an integral part of New Market's historic ambiance for decades, but closed in 2009. Forest and Hull opened the restaurant as Mealey's Table on Easter Sunday after extensive remodeling and a new menu.