Out and About (Sort of): Filling a Void by Howard Freedlander

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You sometimes don’t know what you’re missing until it’s missing. And you grieve as if the “it” is a family member.

And so I felt when Mason’s, a well-known, well-appreciated restaurant on Harrison Street in Easton, closed a few years ago, replaced by a steak house that never seemed too appealing.

Now, Mason’s is returning as part of Easton’s vibrant restaurant mosaic, thanks to Chance Negri, Jeffrey Parker and Jutta Sayles. This new ownership group plans to reopen the doors of Mason’s (yes the name is returning) in late October.

As I confirmed this past weekend, the sale of the building was completed last Friday. A void will be filled. And so will the appetites of customers yearning for return of good, reliable and friendly dining.

More than nine years ago, my youngest daughter and her husband-to-be enjoyed their rehearsal dinner in the outside area of Mason’s. Matt Mason, the conscientious proprietor, abided by the wishes of the young almost-marrieds and served pizzas. Why was this remarkable? Matt didn’t have a pizza oven. It was special evening, one fondly and happily remembered.

So, ever interested in the reopening of a restaurant that provided wonderful memories, excellent food, terrific service and diligent ownership, I met last week with Chance, Jeffrey and Jutta to learn about their plans for 22 South Harrison Street. Like many, I was eager to hear about a new start for a place that once served as a community hub.

Negri and Parker, who have lived in Easton for five years, plan to offer a modern American cuisine. They plan to change the menu four times a year. Chance will serve as the general manager. Jeffrey, a New York-based interior designer, will handle the interior ambience. Jutta will be a frequent presence watching and listening.

Negri, Parker and Sayles all agree they want the new Mason’s (Redux 2017) to become a central fixture in Easton “excellent, fine and relaxed dining,” one that is “warm and welcoming, a “community hub for al organizations.”

In short, the new owners plan to offer an experience that includes a post-church brunch on Sundays, jazz on some evenings and special events.

Aware that the resurrection of Mason’s had created a real stir in the community—emblematic of a small-town environment—Negri said he wants to “live up to the hype.” He is seeking a chef that will “execute what we have envisioned.”

Jutta Sayles envisions Mason’s “delivering fabulous food and a comfortable experience.”

Parker said he looks forward to “seeing people enjoying and experiencing conviviality, warmth and affection every time they dine with us.”

Since the former owner closed Pascal’s Chophouse in the former home of Mason’s, I felt a tinge of sadness for what was a wonderful Easton venue. This former customer always felt comfortable with the menu, the staff and the prices. I always felt secure in Matt Mason’s constant presence in the restaurant; he ran a first-class operation.

As of late October, the void on Harrison Street will no longer exist. It will come alive again, reflecting the tastes and style of Chance Negri, Jeffrey Parker and Jutta Sayles. Old, familiar sandwiches will reappear, albeit with different names and likely different tastes depending on spices and flavorings.

A food connoisseur I am not. My tastes are decidedly basic. But I do like Easton’s varied offerings of restaurants and their expression of their owner’ personalities. Every new or revived eatery improves life in our town, county and region.

The past is just that. The future promises change. The new Mason’s elicits feelings of anticipation and comfort.

Columnist Howard Freedlander retired in 2011 as Deputy State Treasurer of the State of Maryland.  Previously, he was the executive officer of the Maryland National Guard. He  also served as community editor for Chesapeake Publishing, lastly at the Queen Anne’s Record-Observer.  In retirement, Howard serves on the boards of several non-profits on the Eastern Shore, Annapolis and Philadelphia.

 

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Letters to Editor

  1. Thanks Howdie for the update. All sounds good, and many offer best wishes and good fortune to that adventurous trio. As always, know your market!
    DW

  2. Sheila Wainwright says:

    Thank you, Howdie, for giving us more details. I, too, am looking forward to the return of Masons.

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