Directed to eat local

I had a great weekend.  I went to Gainesville, Florida with my daughter to her friend’s wedding.  Before I left though, I was hanging out at Barley and Hops (again, there’s sound if you click on that link) and struck up a conversation with a woman who was visiting from St. Louis and staying at the Hampton Inn.  Her name was Dina and she looked like a tourist, complete with a book to read at the bar, which was enough for me to ask her why she was in town.  After getting through the small talk, I asked her how she ended up at Barley and Hops.  She was a very  friendly woman, in town on business for one night only.

She apparently asked the front desk at the hotel for a local place to eat and they tried to direct her to Macaroni Grill and the various other chains that are down by Hampton Inn.  She again asked for more referrals to something she couldn’t get at home and the only place they could refer her to was May’s.  May’s for sure would have given her a taste of local flavor, but she drove past the crowded parking lot and kept on going until she found the Hops.

I was stunned.  I asked her if they even thought to direct her to head to downtown Frederick, a very easy drive from the Hampton.  She told me no, they hadn’t mentioned anything about a downtown and when I described to her all the options that she could have had going downtown, she was surprised that the hotel had not even tried to send her there.  Odd, since she specifically asked for recomendations for local food that she couldn’t get at home.

So I’m wondering, why aren’t the local hotels directing out-of-towners downtown?  Do they have a deal with the local chains restaurants to direct their guests to them?  Or is it that the downtown restaurants don’t advertise at the hotels on the outskirts of town?  If you were in town for a few days, wouldn’t you like to be directed to downtown Frederick, just so you could get an idea of the local flavor?

Why don’t the hotels promote the downtown?


0 thoughts on “Directed to eat local

  1. well at least she went to local Barley & Hops, granted in shopping center but i do love it and it is not a chain. i am surprised there were no brochures in her room or at front desk that gave her options??? seems weird for a hotel. maybe they were just trying to give her the shortest distance location? hope she enjoyed her visit


    • I think she ended up having a nice evening and you are right, B&H is not a chain so she wound up in a local place anyway. I just was so surprised that she had no idea there was a downtown Frederick! She did say that if she ever has to come back on business, she’d be sure to check out downtown now that she knows about it.


  2. When we were moving here and apartment hunting, we came in and stayed at the Holiday Inn Express at FSK. The front desk gave us no less than 5 different maps/brochures for Downtown and were very helpful with giving us directions and suggestions.

    Hopefully more people in the hospitality industry will read this and realize that by directing people downtown, they will most likely return to Frederick (and perhaps stay at your hotel again) because it really has something unique to offer.


  3. I am the Sales Manager at the newest hotel in Frederick, The Hilton Garden Inn. We opened in May 2007. As a former downtown resident for several years, I direct guests to dine at locally-owned restaurants daily. I love Carroll Creek and the welcoming atmosphere downtown. In fact, I subscribe to this site blog mainly for the current reviews of restaurants and local events. 🙂 We have maps and printed directions to downtown available behind the front desk. In fact, our Front Desk Team, as part of their training, has been sent downtown with the Frederick Tourism Council for fun activity days to better educate them on Downtown Frederick Businesses. Restaurants we regularly refer include Brewers Alley, Isabella’s, La Paz, Volt, Acacia, Black Hog and The Tasting Room. We do send guests to Mays often for their great MD crabs.

    The other day we had a guest request a Seafood restaurant downtown. I was at a loss. Does anyone have any recommendations other than Griff’s? My 3 visits there for dinner were disappointing in service, portion sizes and food quality. :/


  4. While Acacia is not primarily a seafood restaurant, I have had delicious seafood dishes there. Same goes for Danielle’s. I like the crabcakes and the fish ‘n’ chips at Brewer’s Alley. Mays is fun if you like to whack your own crabshells with a mallet, but I found Mays to be too heavy-handed with the Old Bay seasoning and the crab soup was watery. I have never been to Liberty Steak & Seafood — can anyone else comment?


  5. It’s not downtown, but Monocacy Crossing does an excellent job with seafood. Their scallops with bacon vinaigrette is phenomenal. Every fish dinner special I have had there has been delicious.

    The Tasting Room is also very good. They do a lovely job with their seared tuna.

    Finally, I happen to like Bonefish Grill. I know, I know it’s a chain – but you gotta give props to them when they put out a decent product! Plus, they make a very tasty dirty martini..


    • Echo that on Bonefish

      I do my best to avoid chains but until someone local can offer bang bang shrimp, delicious mussels, and $5 dirty martinis with blue cheese olives… i too have to give props to Bonefish for offering something unique as a chain that gets me in the door


  6. Liberty Road seafood house is great but it is very similar to May’s- picnic tables, steamed crabs, newspaper, lots of old bay. They have other seafoods and other dishes as well.


    • Too bad Liberty Road Seafood doesn’t have an outside dining area…I like the quiet country setting. Or do they???? It’s been a little while now since I was there and the weather wasn’t good, anyway, to sit outdoors on that occasion.


  7. I haven’t been since it was Tauraso’s, but does…The Restaurant Formerly Known as Tauraso’s (Daniellas?) still serve that seafood sausage? The exploded shrimp appetizer there was much beloved, as well.


  8. In a related note, it’d be nice to see more accommodation options downtown. Perhaps the next phase of the creek and/or the Brickworks property could address that?


    • “Imagine a restored old building transformed into a lodging facility.”

      I imagine the HPC’d make that difficult – one reason I mentioned a creek or brickworks site


  9. Oh – and I just had a phenomenal dinner at Mick’s (where Jennifer’s used to be). Had these gorgeous seared scallops on a bed of creamy polenta topped with fresh shaved fennel..

    So – add that to the list of places that know how to make a decent seafood dinner!


  10. I remember hearing somewhere that the location of the Post Office is supposed to be turned into a hotel at some point. That would be a nice location with the new development and exit onto East Street. I’m sure that is years and years away if true.


  11. Quite a few of the candidates for the Board of Aldermen are talking about the need for a downtown hotel/conference center. I think the old FNP building would be a great location because the property is large enough and it’s within walking distance of the shops and restaurants downtown. It would be great if we could maximize tourist dollars for more than a few hours like we do now. We need to maintain our vibrant downtown!

    Also, I agree that Mick’s is fabulous! They have some really unique menu items that set them apart from any other restaurant in Frederick. Quynn’s Attic is another favorite.


    • Hmmmm…turning the old FNP building into a hotel? Interesting idea. After all, if they can turn an old streetcar barn into a a newspaper office, why not turn the newspaper office into a hotel?

      The general layout of the building made me think of this place, originally an old NG armoury:


      • Just had another thought. Wonder what’ll happen to the old Girls High School on Church once the School Board’s new building is finished?

        Of course, where the school board is building its new building, a prominent corner on what’ll be the new main entry into downtown, would have been a decent site for a new hotel. Next door to the future visitor’s center, too.


  12. Oh and Danielle’s has excellent food. I believe the menu is mostly the same from when it was Tauraso’s. I would highly reccommend it. I think a lot of people forget it’s there because it’s not off of Market Street.


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  14. Anybody heard anything about the old Freeze King location. I remember reading that the Black Hog was going to use it to smoke their meats… is that still the plan?


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    • What about parking? On that site it would probably have to be underground or have a multi-deck parking garage attached. No one is going to walk a block or more to get to the hotel to register and drag all of their luggage down the street – especially during summer storms and winter snow. The parking would have to be designated “Hotel Guests Only” to keep tourists and shoppers from clogging it up.


  16. Mick’s is by far our favorite place downtown. Out of the madding crowd, walk down Church from Market and take a left on Bentz by the lovely tower at Baker Park, cross Carroll Creek by the dog park, and go right on Patrick.
    Okay, okay, there’s parking in back, for you legless worms, and legitimately handicapped.
    My husband and his artificial hip make it there from north of downtown (N of 7th) and back, after drinks, no problem.
    It’s not your standard steakhouse, so drop your expectations, and try something new.
    Jimmy’s doing some truly innovative things, and doing them very, very well.
    He’s faithfully using local goodies, making bacon whiskey, and having a good time.


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