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Annapolis mainstay Chick and Ruth’s Delly will remain open following owner’s death

Chick and Ruth’s Delly only open for takeout in downtown Annapolis during the evening on a weeknight. Spencer Jones, son of the restaurant owner Keith Jones, who died suddenly last month, said the diner will keep "going strong for the Annapolis community as it has for decades."
Chick and Ruth’s Delly only open for takeout in downtown Annapolis during the evening on a weeknight. Spencer Jones, son of the restaurant owner Keith Jones, who died suddenly last month, said the diner will keep "going strong for the Annapolis community as it has for decades." (Paul W. Gillespie/Capital Gazette)

Chick and Ruth’s Delly, the mainstay Annapolis restaurant on Main Street, will remain open and won’t change following the death of its owner Keith Jones last month, his son said Thursday.

“We’re going to keep Chick and Ruth’s going strong for the Annapolis community as it has for decades,” Spencer Jones said. “And we’re going to honor the legacy of both the restaurant and my dad.”

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Keith Jones died suddenly Jan. 22 at the age of 58. He bought the restaurant from the Levitt family in 2017 after they operated it for decades. Jones worked for Kaiser Permanente in Virginia and fell in love with the restaurant after eating there several times, his son said.

A group of friends from Virginia who are part of the restaurant’s ownership group is planning to take a bigger role in its operation, said Jones, who declined to say who the group was out of respect for their privacy. Jones did say the group will be spending more time in Annapolis moving forward.

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Jones, who lives in Wisconsin, said he will also be more involved with owning the restaurant, something he had hoped to take up years from now when his dad started to consider retirement. There was never a thought to sell the business after his dad’s death, he said.

“It was not a hard decision and not something I ever really considered,” he said. “I was hoping this would be much, much further down the road that may be as I was older, and my dad wanted to retire, that I would perhaps take on a role with it.

“It happened much sooner than I would have liked.”

As for the day-to-day operations, those will be left to the restaurant’s staff, including general manager, Erica Hayden, Jones said.

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“They are going to keep doing their thing. I am very confident. They are people my dad trusted.”

Since Jones died, the family has been considering how to best remember him at Chick and Ruth’s. The task has been difficult because it was not in his nature to be in the spotlight, his son said.

“I think part of the struggle there, and at least for me personally, is my dad would have absolutely hated it if we did anything too showy,” Jones said. “He was a humble guy. He didn’t want to be the center of attention, didn’t want a statue or anything like that. Even getting an item on the menu named after him would be like pulling teeth.”

One of Chick and Ruth’s calling cards is an eclectic menu with a variety of items from basic sandwiches to live and onions. Many of the menu items are named after politicians, popular Marylanders and other famous individuals. The Larry Hogan is a cheese steak with American cheese and grilled onions. It is named after Gov. Hogan.

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