By Sandra Zunino
With many changes coming to an old St. Michael’s landmark, Town Dock Restaurant is sure to be the ultimate dining experience.
St. Michael’s resident since 1995 and prominent figure in the local food and wine industry, Jon Mason took ownership of Town Dock last October. He worked there as general manager intermittently over the better part of the last decade most recently supervising renovations leading to a grand re-opening on June 8.
While many of the original staff members remain, Chef Jesse Wheeler is a new addition to the repertoire. “Our menu is still seafood focused,” says Jon, “but will also offer a variety of other entrees including steaks, chops, pasta, chicken – something for everyone.”
Jon says he will alter the menu seasonally, currently encompassing a selection of winter comfort foods, while summer will capitalize on fresh produce and seafood including varieties of oysters from all the way up the coast. Local favorites such as crab cakes and hand-breaded fried oysters remain a staple.
In January, Jon plans to close the restaurant to initiate further interior renovations. While the bright, open airy dining room is inviting during the summer, Jon says he wants to create warm intimate spaces for colder months. “My challenge is to take what works in the summer and make it work in the winter,” he says.
Creating an intimate lounge complete with fireplace and exclusive menu is one option. Jon is also considering installing a wine cellar displaying the many wines available on Town Dock’s wine list.
“It’s going to be a work in progress as any restaurant is,” says Jon, “always tweaking something here and changing something there – that’s part of the fun of being a restaurateur.”
Slated to reopen February 5, prior to the closing, Town Dock will offer much during the holidays. Hosting its traditional “Breakfast with Santa” this weekend as part of Christmas in St. Michaels, the restaurant will provide breakfast for 120 children and continental breakfast for their parents while Santa visits.
Situated at “the heart of the harbor”, Town Dock is decked out for Christmas offering all the ambiance of a New England seaside resort, complete with whitecaps on the Miles River and watercolor skies outside its wall of windows. “Ultimately, the real decoration is the scenery on the waterfront,” says Jon, “which changes the mood from season to season.”
Flanked by Foxy’s Marina Bar and St. Michaels Crab House, Town Dock is the only restaurant of the three remaining open throughout winter. A block away from the main thoroughfare, Town Dock has a private lot and plenty of parking for lunch and dinner guests.
Prior executive director of the St. Michaels Food & Wine Festival, a popular annual town event, Jon took advantage of SMF&WF’s organization restructuring to return to Town Dock and fulfill his lifelong dream of restaurant ownership.
“I was sitting in the restaurant just the other morning looking over the water, thinking, you can find yourself in a worse position,” he says. “Here I am, owner of a great restaurant with a great location. I get to be my own boss and I get to come in everyday to this beautiful landscape.”
To view Town Dock’s menu, visit the new website at www.towndockrestaurant.com or call 410-745-5577 for reservations. Town Dock is also on FaceBook.