New owners expand Dixie Eatery menu

December 04, 2002|by ANDREA ROWLAND

SMITHSBURG - The Dixie Eatery's new owners plan to preserve the hometown atmosphere of Smithsburg's Town Square landmark.

Smithsburg residents Fred and Lori Hartley, who for years have helped organize and run the town's annual Steam & Craft Show - bought the business at 4 N. Main St. on Nov. 1.

"Our goal is to keep the restaurant community-oriented," Lori Hartley said. "Things are basically going to be the same. We'll have the same down-home, good cooking."

Dixie Eatery patrons will continue to enjoy the same menu favorites - including slippery beef pot pie and Shirley Monniger's bean soup - at reasonable prices, Hartley said. And she is expanding the menu to include more vegetarian offerings, salads, desserts and the homemade soups for which the restaurant has gained a strong reputation.


Hartley's baked potato soup has already been a big hit, she said.

The Hartleys are opening the restaurant an hour earlier than past owners - at 6 a.m. - and are offering such daily breakfast combination specials as sausage gravy over toast with coffee, in hopes of better meeting the needs of the early work crowd, Lori Hartley said.

Her passion for cooking has long extended into the community. As a member of Trinity Lutheran Church in Smithsburg, Hartley cooks meals for senior citizens once a month.

She has also managed the concession stand during the Steam & Craft Show, an event her husband has chaired for the past 10 years.

"I'm used to feeding 50,000 people," laughed Lori Hartley, who resigned her Steam & Craft position after taking over the restaurant. But her experience preparing festival favorites might carry over into the Dixie Eatery.

"You may see some Leopard stew," Hartley said.

She and her husband, who works for the county, first considered buying the Dixie Eatery about six years ago. They had chances to purchase restaurants in other parts of the county when the Dixie deal didn't work out, but wanted to remain in Smithsburg, Hartley said.

"Owning a restaurant here has always been a dream," she said.

Former Dixie Eatery owner Mary Mellott has helped the Hartleys make their dream a success by serving as a mentor, Lori Hartley said.

She and her husband are developing a Dixie Eatery Web site, on which they plan to post daily and weekly specials and community news.

The Hartleys hope eventually to host free Thanksgiving dinners for members of their community, they said.

The couple would like to offer local businesses and civic organizations use of their facility for catered meetings on Sundays and after 2 p.m. on Mondays and Tuesdays, they said.

"This is our home," Lori Hartley said, "and we believe in putting back into the community."

The Dixie Eatery is open from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, and from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.

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