Less than two months after it opened, Mealey’s Table in New Market, Md., abruptly closed on Saturday after the sole investor, cattle farmer Carl Miller, decided the new American concept wasn’t working.
“We found out Thursday, and Saturday was the last night of service,” says former Addie’s chef Nate Waugaman, who was tapped to help revitalize this historic restaurant in the “antiques capital of Maryland.”
Miller “apparently expected the restaurant to be profitable after the first month and a half,” says Waugaman. “We had the opportunity to do something great, and he just pulled the rug out from under us.”
For his part, Miller says he felt the timing was right to throw in the towel. “It wasn’t working,” he says. “They were getting less and less attendance each day.”
“It seems like everybody was complaining about the prices,” Miller adds.
Miller says he plans to install his grandson, Jack Hand, as chef of the revamped Mealey’s Table, which the investor says will more closely resemble the old, family-oriented Mealey’s Restaurant, which closed in 2009 as the economy started to tank. Miller expected the new Mealey’s Table to open in early July with Hand, a school chef in Maine, at the helm.
The closing has been a bitter pill to swallow for the chef and the managing partner, Patrick Forest, who have both put a lot of sweat equity into the project. They personally helped build out the location, whether constructing tables or painting the place, and Waugaman even planted his own sizable herb garden on the premise.
Both Waugaman and Forest say an accounting snafu in early May may have contributed to the restaurant’s early demise. One of the original managing partners was fired last month when she wasn’t keeping proper records. “That may have done something” to rush closure, Forest says.
At the same time, Forest believes older generation diners like Miller and his kind “don’t understand the concept of a la carte....They wanted the soups and salads with their entrees.”
While the suddenly unemployed staff is now searching for work, Forest says he hasn’t completely given up on his whole-animal, farm-to-table concept with Waugaman as chef. He has meetings planned with investors to potentially bring the concept to the District.