One of the few restaurants on New Market’s Main Street will shut its doors on Sunday, according to an announcement on Facebook.
Vintage opened in 2014 and quickly became known for its Southern comfort food and signature cocktails. It replaced the longtime community favorite Mealey’s, which closed in 2013.
Now, the restaurant will become an events space.
The decision came after head chef Stephanie Wilson decided to move on from the restaurant to pursue another opportunity.
Owner Matt Hetrick said Wilson built the menu, which consists of completely from-scratch items, and was worried about the quality of the food declining with another chef.
“My decision was I don’t want to try to run the restaurant in anything less than the same quality, and didn’t feel really confident that I could execute that in a short amount of time,” Hetrick said.
Hetrick is a partner in more than 125 restaurants in the D.C. metropolitan region, and approached many chefs about possibly taking Wilson’s role. A few people expressed interest, but because of the restaurant’s location, Hetrick couldn’t find a perfect fit.
The restaurant has also been looking to fill other management positions recently. Trying to fill all the roles at once was difficult.
“To have an a la carte restaurant you need people who are used to working in high-volume kitchens, with a certain level of talent,” Hetrick said. “It’s really challenging to find a big labor force in New Market.”
The building will remain open as an event space, available for weddings, rehearsals, business gatherings, fundraisers and other events. Hetrick said that events director Lissa Crane will be staying on to plan those events.
“We’ve actually experienced a ton of success over the last several years, but especially this year, in terms of developing that event space and our ability to really do that at a high level and be this wonderful gathering place for people,” Hetrick said.
Hetrick is interested in converting the second floor of the building — which used to be a hotel — into bridal, groom and family suites so members of the wedding party can get ready at the venue itself.
Because Vintage will keep its kitchen, caterers will be able to prepare food at the venue itself. Hetrick said that those interested in holding an event at Vintage will have a few different options for caterers, including Preserve, his restaurant in Annapolis.
New Market Mayor Winslow F. Burhans III said he was shocked by the news that Vintage is closing. He said he contacted Hetrick to ask if there was anything the town could do to help out the restaurant, but didn’t get a response.
Burhans said that the loss is even more devastating because the New Market area has only three independent restaurants, including Morgan’s American Grill and The Derby.
“I think that they filled a niche,” he said.
Vintage is also special to members of the Town Council who would meet at the restaurant after meetings.
“It was a calm atmosphere ... to sit back and grab some bar food and have a couple drinks and discuss the things that happened during the Town Council meeting,” Burhans said.
The Facebook post announcing the closing has more than 400 comments from community members mourning the loss of the restaurant. Hetrick said that it was heartening to see so many people posting their favorite memories of the restaurant.
“It’s been a really good run, and we’re excited for a new page that’s a little different than what we’ve done in the past,” Hetrick said.