On the Sale of Molly’s Restaurant

Dear Molly’s: Don’t ever change. Okay, maybe add a few more menu items, explore a few dishes that move beyond that middle American culinary vibe. But please make sure to keep the shrimp tacos and the French onion soup. 

Word on the street and in the local media is that Molly’s (and Jesse’s) has been sold to Anthony Barnett, director of operations at Blue Sky Restaurant Group, the entity under which both restaurants operate. Much has been made of the fact that Barnett has been associated with the restaurant for a long time and therefore understands its culture. In fact, he began working at Molly’s as a kitchen manager before moving on to Jesse’s, and finally became the director of operations for both restaurants. 

I am not certain how the former and now current owners define that culture, but here is my view. Molly’s has often been a place to which I have taken friends and acquaintances when I don’t know their culinary preferences. It’s a long menu with the proverbial something for everyone: burger lovers and vegans, noodle eaters and those seeking the gluten-free. Lots of small plates before small plates were in vogue. Great flatbreads. Salads for the diet-conscious and steaks and fries for those for whom calorie-counting is not an activity of choice.  

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Servers write their names in crayon—upside down no less—on the butcher paper tablecloths. They cheerfully allow substitutions and bring your meal in record time. They ask if you want the loaf of bread with the honey butter, which is nice, but maybe it would be a small improvement if they removed the agonizing choice and just plunked a few slices down on the table, no questions asked.

While Molly’s is not my only choice in Hanover, and maybe not the place I dine most often, over past decades I have consoled friends over drinks at its bar, exchanged secrets (but only when seated in a booth), and split a Morgan’s Magic Brownie with a dining companion, though rarely, alas. I have lunched there with a child visiting from China who delighted at the breadth of the menu and the fact that he was able to read it in English. My book club/French class have shared cocktails there. My husband and I have ducked in for quick dinners, pre- and post-movie at the Nugget or event at the Hop. 

Stay mostly the same, Molly’s. Or at least, just stay. 

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