Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Quarter of A Century

At the Back Door of the Ironstone Cafe July 1986
Twenty five years ago this coming summer, Kevin and I proudly opened our first restaurant on then undiscovered Cannon Street, in Chestertown.  We were both 31 years old.  Old enough, I would think, but on the other hand, maybe not.  We called our new venture "The Ironstone Cafe", and decorated the window sills with the Ironstone china that my parents collected.  (I can still remember the conversation that decided the name, on the phone with Kevin from my folks' house in Kennedyville to our house in Galesville.)  The Kent County News printed a very welcoming article about the new business - the byline was Susan Comfort's.  (Susan and Rob's daughter Natalie would one day work at the Ironstone.)

Even then, Kevin was a "buy local" fan - Mrs. Kelly from Quaker Neck was one of our early producers, along with Ringold Elburn and Joseph Towner.  We were using "Kennedyville Eggs", practically from Day One, and bringing in herbs from our own garden at home.

 Of course, what many people did not know was that Kevin was a smoker in those early days - and here is a rare shot of him with a cigarette, doing paperwork at what served as our office at the Ironstone - Table 10.  Ashtrays on every table back then!

 We stored the wine in a custom made - by Mickey Dulin - wine rack.  Note the Ironstone on the back shelf, and how do you like Kevin's giant beard?  We were having a lot of fun, that is sure.  This is a year after opening.

We had our share of luminaries dine with us back then - including the above: Andy Goddard and Cindy Williams, both of Andy's fame.  This must have been taken shortly after Andy's opened.

I don't know how Kevin did what he did in that tiny Ironstone kitchen.  Here he is, with his crew on New Year's Eve 1993.

January 1996
In November of 1995 we opened the Kennedyville Inn, leaving Chuck Reeser and Jeff Carroll in charge of the kitchen at the Ironstone.  Finally, in August of 1997 we sold the Ironstone to Paul Hanley, who reopened it under the name Blue Heron Cafe, where it remains in business today.  A solid foundation was begun 25 years ago by two inexperienced but hard-working fools people with a passion for the job. 

 Sunday brunch was a short-lived event at the Ironstone, and I guess so, with a green salad running you $1.25!  and Eggs Benedict for 7 bucks!  More than smoking habits have changed in 25 years, eh?  We hired Melissa Clark to write the menus for us in her beautiful calligraphy, which she did for several years.  We took her original across the street to Kent Printing, for John Spry to print.

We have quite a few pictures from days gone by, including many of customers and friends of the Ironstone and later.  Can you identify the young couple above, who remain successful local business owners?  This photo was taken in their shop on Cross Street, Ambrosia, with their new "employee".

Stay tuned for more "Mystery Pictures" in the weeks to come.


  1. Great Blog Post...mystery photos of the Towners?

  2. This would be the Reynolds family, with baby Mathias, in their shop on Cross Street. Now they are better known as Magnolia Catering.