Landmark Hagerstown Restaurant Reopens

Welliver's Is Back Under New Owners, New Name

A landmark restaurant in Hagerstown came back to life Thursday, just in time for Thanksgiving dinner.

The Welliver's Smorgasboard sign still stands outside, but that restaurant closed in March after a 60-year run, with the owners owing $200,000 in taxes, 6News' Norman Cox reported.

Local residents who missed the chicken livers and porterhouse steak for two talked Penny and Mike Wickes, who own several Hagerstown businesses, into buying the place.

Penny Wickes said she doesn't know how much they've spent and doesn't want to know, but said they've rebuilt from top to bottom and expanded.

"Once you start doing one thing, it leads to another," she said. "And so, when you take the roof off and you find the trusses are bad, then all of a sudden you've got that to deal with."

The Wickes even got the signature mill wheel, which had been broken for years, working again.

The restaurant is now known as Willie and Red's, a combination of family names.

They said they're keeping as much of the old menu as possible to please diners who've been coming to the institution for as long as 40 years.

"It's really nice to know you can come to Hagerstown and have a good place to eat," said Centerville resident Shirley Charles.

Darrell Ronan of Richmond agreed.

"We've been coming here for years and was real disappointed when they closed down," he said. "We're glad to see it reopening, so we'll be here often, quite often."

The Wickes have rehired the same cooks from Welliver's, many of the same servers and the former restaurant manager, Aimee Foust.

"It means this town's going to look alive again on the weekends," Foust said.

The restaurant business can be a cruel one with lots of startups going under. But the new owners said they're going to succeed and local residents said they won't let the place fail again.