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A night out

December 10, 2003|by KATE COLEMAN

katec@herald-mail.com

Charles Sekula's Schmankerl Stube restaurant always is open Thursday nights. So is Rocky's on Public Square, so is Roccoco, so is The Broad Axe.

But on this Thursday night - Dec. 11 - the downtown eateries will be joined by three establishments that usually open their doors only during the morning and lunchtime hours.

Bentley's Bagels and Gourmet Coffee, The Gourmet Goat and The Rhubarb House will be burning the evening oil for the December Thursday Night Out on the Town.

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Several downtown merchants also will keep their doors open, offering special savings as part of the event presented by the City of Hagerstown and the downtown business owners. The shops will have coupons for free dessert at participating restaurants.

Members of the Municipal Band will play in Public Square, Victorian carolers, a Civil War-era Santa and dancers from Potomac Classical Youth Ballet's "Nutcracker" will visit restaurants and shops. There will be Historic Holiday Trolley Tours with Hagerstown radio personality and historian Roger Keller serving as narrator. Trolleys will depart from The Gourmet Goat at 4 E. Franklin St., from 6 to 8 p.m. The cost is $7, and reservations, which are recommended, may be made at 301-739-8577, ext. 183.

"What I like about it is it involves everybody," Sekula says. "It's great to see others stay open and to see that they're doing well."

Cheryl Kenney of Roccoco agrees that the event is a great idea and says it will be easier to get off the ground in the spring. November's Night Out on the Town featured some blustery weather.

Thursdays always are Mexican Night at The Broad Axe, says chef Maria DeVore, but there will be a couple of specials on the Night Out menu.

The tavern will be serving an uptown-tasting Veal and Crab Rouladen, a roll of veal cutlet filled with crab imperial and flambed with brandy, and fried cheesecake.

Amber MacRae at Bentley's says the restaurant across from Washington County Courthouse will invite Night Out patrons to warm up with an egg nog latt with freshly ground nutmeg and a slice of homemade apple cake.

The first two Night Out events, in October and November, went well at Bentley's, she says: "We got some new people."

Shellie and John Ralston will keep The Rhubarb House open Thursday night, despite the pull of the busy catering side of their business during the holiday party season.

Just across the street at Rocky's University Pizza, owner Vincenzo Schiano-DiCola will offer entrees above and beyond his usual menu.

Schiano-DiCola spent six months last year in culinary school in Italy traveling with a team of five chefs all over the country where he was born.

He learned a thing or two on his "cook's tour." His Night Out bill of fare will include lasagna, spaghetti, manicotti and stuffed shells. He also will prepare cannoli and sfogliatelle, a pastry made with phyllo dough, sweet ricotta and marscapone cheeses, orange rind and cherries. Sounds deliziosa.

Steve Cook and Paul Deputy, co-owners of The Gourmet Goat, have opened their restaurant for the October and November Nights Out on the Town. The doors will be open again Thursday, and a fixed-price menu - $19.95 - will include several choices of appetizers, soups and salads, entrees and desserts and beverages. Patrons are welcome to bring wine. The Goat will provide glasses and an opener.

For now, some of the eateries have shared recipes that they will feature Thursday.

Thursday Nights Out on the Town will continue in the new year. Activities and entertainment will change from month to month, but you can count on the second Thursday - the next will be Jan. 8 - for a night out in downtown Hagerstown.

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