North County diners now have two new choices when they're on the prowl for a good meal.
The Weekender, at the corner of Sheppard and Troyer roads in Monkton, and the Monkton Grille, at the intersection of Mt. Carmel and York roads in Hereford, both opened this summer.
The Monkton Grille
Three Hereford High School graduates combined their time, money and experience to open up The Monkton Grille, a new eatery that features breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Ray Causey, Dan Quidley and Ryan Zyla opened up their new venture in early July. Causey's business, Causey Contracting Inc. shares a building with restaurant space that was most recently Over the Moon Café. It has also been Martina's Café and That Funky Monkey.
"I just saw an opportunity to do this when I heard Over the Moon was closing," said Causey, a 2001 Hereford graduate who played varsity football with Quidley and Zyla, both 1999 graduates.
Causey learned that Zyla, who was a chef at Juliana's in the Village in Shrewsbury, Pa., was out of a job since the restaurant recently closed. He contacted him and Zyla is now the main chef at Monkton Grille.
Once the three friends took over the lease, Causey Contracting, where Quidley also works, renovated the café, both inside and out.
The café seats 24 inside and 24 outside. Interior tables are painted with blackboard paint, so customers can create their own art with chalk while they enjoy their meals.
The rear of the building has an ice cream window where customers can order homemade ice cream cones, sundaes and milkshakes. The organic ice cream comes from Prigel Family Creamery in Glen Arm.
The Monkton Grille had only planned on selling ice cream at the June 29 Hereford parade, but was unexpectedly called to cook food at Hereford High School after a caterer didn't show. It then had its official opening the next week.
"We make everything from scratch. We don't use anything bottled," Zyla said. "The bacon is cured and smoked here. It's all from local farms."
The breakfast menu includes breakfast sandwiches and homemade pastries such as scones and sticky buns. Lunch choices range from soup and salads to sandwiches and wraps. Pit beef is available every day.
Jim Wancowicz and his son, Jon, 13, of White Hall, recently stopped in for a quick bite.
"These are some of the best chicken wings I've ever had," Jim Wancowicz said. "They're smoked and they have a great taste. It's nice having a place close to home." His son ordered his favorite – buffalo chicken pinwheels in puff pastry.
The Monkton Grille offers catering and already plans to set up a tent and cook at all Hereford Recreation Council football games this year.
The Monkton Grille is located at 16848 York Road, Monkton. Phone 410-357-3933 for information.
As its name implies, The Weekender is open for extended weekends - Wednesday through Sunday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Owners Mike O'Connor and Dennis Funk spent seven months renovating the rented building that formerly housed Woody's Hitching Post. Previous restaurants were La Mia Cucina and The Painted Pig.
O'Connor and Funk are neighbors who live in White Hall and decided to join forces to open The Weekender.
"We saw a niche we could fill with comfort food at reasonable prices," said O'Connor, who has 28 years experience in the food service industry. Funk worked with Capital Restaurant Concepts for 15 years and was also with Paolo's in Towson.
Carmen Sabia, of Monkton, is the chef and kitchen manager. He has been in the institutional food business since 1981 and has been director of dining services at private schools, nursing homes and correctional facilities.
The Weekender prides itself on serving food that is made from scratch on site.
"We make our own sausage, our own biscuits, our own Hollandaise sauce," Funk said. "Nothing comes from a package."
Their extensive menu includes some 39 breakfast choices, including eggs cooked in butter, bacon fat or olive oil. Other selections are eggs Benedict, pancakes, waffles, and all types of side dishes such as bacon, sausage scrapple, ham and Spam.
Celeste Hendricks of Monkton and Emma Croft of Stewartstown, Pa., said they were thrilled with their breakfast on a recent Saturday morning.
"This is the lightest omelette I've had in years," Hendricks said. "We'll definitely be back."
Croft liked that her corned beef hash was served in a small cast iron frying pan. "The food stays warm for a lot longer in the pan," she said. "If they keep this quality at these prices, they'll do well."
The lunch menu offers soups, salads, sandwiches and hamburgers. There are also more than a dozen appetizers such as quesadillas, crab balls and crab dip.
The Weekender also offers supper specials each week.
The restaurant has seating for 54 in two dining rooms with different looks. The main room features historic black and white photos from the area, including a 1964 photo of the Blessing of the Hounds at St. James Episcopal Church. The other room features pine floors and knotty pine walls decorated with rustic items ranging from a wooden sled to a decorated ironing board.
The owners hope to open up a side deck to diners later this summer.