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Red Byrd flies for $305,000

A Lovettsville, Va., man offered the winning bid at an auction Monday night.

A Lovettsville, Va., man offered the winning bid at an auction Monday night.

February 25, 2003|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

KEEDYSVILLE, MD - It looked more like a reunion than an auction Monday night as veteran employees, loyal customers and a longtime former owner of the Red Byrd Restaurant and Motel gathered in the parking lot of the popular eatery to learn its fate.

It was all over in a few minutes as the new owner - a Virginia man who works for CSX Railroad - offered the winning bid of $305,000 for the restaurant, an adjacent banquet building, a motel and an on-site residence.

"I think it will certainly be a restaurant again," said Fred George, who said he heard from many enthusiastic sale attendees about the popular eating spot. "And I also understand Keedysville could use a convenience store."

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George said he owns a number of restaurants where he lives - Lovettsville, Va. - including Lovettsville Pizza. He described his business style as turnkey, where he owns the building and equipment and rents out the management.

"I suspect I will also rent out the house," George said.

Bidding started at $150,000 and rose slowly with just three or four bidders participating, said Tom Bikle, director of marketing and real estate for the auctioneer, J.G. Cochran Auctioneers & Associates.

"I am familiar with Fred George," Bikle said. "He has bought several properties in Hagerstown recently and has fixed them up very nicely."

After the real estate sale was over, George stayed around for a while and spoke with a number of former employees who turned out for the sale.

One of those who had more than a passing interest in the auction was Mary Jane Shaefer, who owned the restaurant with her late husband, Zane, from 1972 to 1989, and stayed on to work there for a number of years after she sold the business.

Shaefer greeted several of the "girls" who worked for her for many years. They shared stories and hoped they'd work together again in the near future.

"I worked 24 years at Red Byrd's," said Beth Wyand, a hostess/server who prided herself on remembering all the regular customers and their particular orders, all the while treating them like family.

Since the restaurant closed on Nov. 4, 2002, Wyand hasn't been working anywhere else, knowing it just wouldn't be the same.

Kay Dick, who worked at Red Byrd's for 30 years, said working for the Shaefers was like working for a mother and father.

"We were all very close," Dick said.

Current owner Jay M. Jamison attended the sale. He said he owned the restaurant for 13 years, the last seven as sole owner. Jamison had no further comment.

The sale was forced when the restaurant's deed of trust was declared in default and the Branch Banking and Trust Co. foreclosed, Hagerstown attorney Roger Schlossberg said.

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