I know, I know, I have been very slack about sharing our Adventures with Food on the K-B Market Blog, and I have missed it, so yesterday I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to get our (relatively) new website to host a Blog Page. (And also to make it so when you clicked on the Calendar of Events page, it sent you to just that, the calendar… Believe me, it took for ever to make this happen.)
We spent last week in a city with 24,000 restaurants to choose from, according to the NYC Health Department. We left armed with a list of about 40 that we wanted to visit in our five-day stay. Ha! You barely have to leave your block in Manhattan and you will come across more restaurants than you can find in your entire ride around Kent County. Of course I would no sooner give up life in Kent County in exchange for a pile of dining choices, but one thing most everyone agrees on (except perhaps some restaurant owners) is that there are not enough independent dining choices here, at least not within the 15 minute drive time most people prefer. This is not a new issue; it has been around since we’ve been working in the area, but right now Chestertown is particularly singing the dearth-of-dining-venue blues. The rumors are flying that the FishWhistle is being sold and will soon close; whoa! not another one! The fate of the FW is likely to be the first thing many people want to talk about when they come into the Market these days.
The restaurant scene in Kent County is always a popular topic of conversation, no matter which side of the bar you occupy. Ever since we came to Chestertown, in 1986, we’ve heard the rumors about comings and goings, including plenty regarding our own businesses. This was how we learned to never use the word “closed” in any public advertising, because that is all the public sees, the word “closed”. Small town living at its finest, no? But restaurants are more than just places to get a meal, at least the good ones are. They are places where you see your friends and neighbors, where you can relax and let someone take care of you for a change, where you can feel at home without being at home. Many come to be known as the “third” place, and you are very fortunate if you have one. I think that’s why people who aren’t actually financially invested in a restaurant feel that they are, and why they take such an interest in those rumors that follow the actual players. They need that “third” place in their lives.
Here’s our – okay, my – opinion on the matter. If the FishWhistle building is sold to new owners, and the current tenant, restaurateur Jeff Carroll – probably the most experienced Chef-owner-operator out there – is offered the opportunity to put his spin on some other local restaurant icon, so be it. He would breathe new life into that venerable queen of venues in Georgetown. IMHO, Jeff is one of the few people who could successfully pull off managing such a large, busy dining and bar establishment – those two sides should grab hold of each other. Meanwhile, the FW gets a long overdue refurbishment, and a new operator to bring their own twist to C’town’s waterfront dining. Of course, we can only hope that whoever takes Jeff’s place at the FW listens to their dining public and refrains from that notorious “Sysco to Table” sourcing technique. Certainly the area can attract a serious Professional, someone with a successful track record, who would grab the chance to take the helm of such an historic, popular and most likely profitable business on Chestertown’s waterfront, without resorting to “House Recipe” brands. Especially in this “Eat/Shop Local” era, when it is so much more convenient to stock your walk-in with local produce and carefully raised meat than it ever has been before.
We can dream can’t we?