You don't have to tell Brian Boston that Highland Inn, his project near Clarksville in southwest Howard County, has been a long time coming.
"It's been a little frustrating," said Boston, the executive chef and co-owner of the acclaimed Milton Inn in Baltimore County.
But Highland Inn's opening really is getting closer. It will be open before the end of the year, in late November or early December, Boston said.
"Most of the inside is finished," Boston said. "The kitchen has been in for quite some time."
At the ceremonial ground-breaking for the project in April 2012, Boston said he was hoping to have Highland Inn open in July 2012.
Then, things didn't happen as fast Boston would have liked.
Boston attributed the delay partly to the normal surprises that hamper any construction project, and especially this one, which involves renovating an 1890s farmhouse.
Beyond that, Boston acknowledges that progress was slowed by budgeting problems and by unexpected bureaucratic hurdles. Boston said that Howard County's various regulations weren't necessarily more stringent or arbitrary than those in Baltimore County, where the Milton Inn is located, just different.
Boston said that Highland Inn will be a "casual fine dining restaurant," serving Low Country American food. Highland Inn won't be as formal as the Milton Inn, Boston said, but it will still feel special. "We're hoping people can use us for special occasions but also for weekly visits," he said.
Boston said he's done a lot of research into the dining habits of Howard County residents and is hoping Highland Inn will fill a niche for upscale casual dining. But he said he's prepared to make adjustments, too.
"You can do whatever thing you're going to do," Boston said. "But customers will tell you, 'No that's not what you're going to do'. You have to roll with it. You're here to please the customer."