Local Man Reopens Iconic Maryland Restaurant

Former Iron Hill employees reopen a restaurant with history in Maryland.

The Granary Restaurant and Sassafras Grill on the Sassafras River in Maryland. (Credit: Erin Gilbert)
The Granary Restaurant and Sassafras Grill on the Sassafras River in Maryland. (Credit: Erin Gilbert)
After working for more than 16 years at several Iron Hill Brewery's in the area, Dave Anderson, was on his boat in Maryland one day and decided to take a gamble. 

Anderson, of Wallingford, had driven by The Granary Restaurant and Sassafras Grill on the Sassafras River in Maryland, numerous times over the years. His wife, Karen, spent summers growing up in the Kentmore Park, MD area and every time Anderson rode his boat passed the empty, iconic restaurant, he wondered why its potential wasn't being utilized. 

The History

The Granary, located in Georgetown, MD (or Fredericktown, or Cecilton or Earleville depending on the map or history you use), first became a restaurant in 1946 when it was opened and operated by Steel Howard for many years. 

In 1985, Ford Hall, Sr. then bought the restaurant but it soon burned in a fire on March 4, 1985. Hall rebuilt and reopened the Granary on Dec. 19, 1985, Anderson says. 

The Granary has had its inconsistencies, menu changes and identity crisis over the years but it officially closed its doors on Feb. 14, 2012. 

In early June 2013, Anderson rode by the empty restaurant on his boat and despite having never been inside, he thought why not reopen it. 

"I couldn't think why it was closed," Anderson says. "So I called Ford, set up a meeting to look at it and a week later I quit my job and two weeks later, here we are."

Anderson called his former Iron Hill co-worker Erin Gilbert, who also had a longtime family summer home in the area, and asked her to join him. 

"She blew my eardrum out when I asked her," he says. 

The Granary reopened on June 24. 

Gilbert, of West Chester, is now the Granary's general manager. Her husband, Jesse, grew up along the Sassafras River (which is off the Chesapeake Bay) with his family when his grandfather first built their summer cottage around 1949. 

Gilbert says The Granary was always a favorite of her husband's and his grandfather, Edwin who has since passed away. She says Edwin visited the restaurant frequently in the early years that it was opened. 

Anderson says his wife told him after he opened the Granary, that as a child, she had always imagined herself getting married at the Granary. Instead, she's married to the Granary now. 

The Updates

The new Granary still offers different atmospheres and menus at the "upstairs" and "downstairs" parts of the restaurant. 

Upstairs is now considered, "upscale casual," Anderson says, the main dining room was painted and brightened up and all of the woodwork and brass work was refurbished.

The menu offers summer seafood, prime rib specials, and a four-season menu that will change, and of course, happy hour each day from 4 to 6 p.m.

Downstairs, which is still being renovated but expected to open in early August, will be more casual and boater-friendly. 

"We had to do a lot more updating to the downstairs," Anderson says. 

The tiki-theme and jungle wallpaper are being replaced with a more nautical theme and a painted mural. 

The downstairs menu will be a smaller menu but with a bigger bar. It will offer burgers, hot dogs (including a Chesepeake Bay dog with crab meat, old bay and cheese), chicken fingers, crab cakes, wings, and other light fare items.

The downstairs will be open Friday nights through Sundays while upstairs opens at 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and at noon on Saturdays and Sundays. 

Gilbert says the restaurant has been well-received in its first months of being reopened. She says their job now is to educate the community on the renovations and changes and show that the Granary, while it may have the same long-time name, is an entirely new restaurant. 

"It's a lot different than it used to be," Gilbert says. "People have been pleasantly surprised with the direction we've taken. They've been really appreciative." 

The Granary is located at 100 George St  Georgetown, MD 21930

Suzi Pierce August 06, 2013 at 07:58 AM
What wonderful news!! Congratulations!! Having lived right down the street from The Granary and frequented their often, I hated to see it close. Even have watched several weddings take place there on the outside deck, what a beautiful view!! Congratulations!
Karen Mills August 06, 2013 at 09:36 AM
Congratulation and best wishes to the owner and general manager. It looks fun! I have never been but would love to support. Can you publish the address of The Granary?
Courtney Elko August 06, 2013 at 09:44 AM
Here you go, Karen. I've also added it to the story. 100 George St Georgetown, MD 21930 Thanks!


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