New Market restaurant continues old family tradition

·4 min read

Jun. 15—The latest restaurant to come to the town of New Market has ties to Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe.

Prospect Pantry owner Ashly Wright grew up in California visiting her grandfather Reno Barsocchini's restaurants. He had five and co-owned two of them with Joe and Dominic DiMaggio, Wright said. Wright's grandfather was the best man in Joe DiMaggio and Monroe's wedding.

Though the last of Barsocchini's restaurants was sold in 1987 after his death, according to his granddaughter, his memory is very much alive in New Market.

Black and white photos of Wright's grandfather, grandmother Patty, Joe DiMaggio and Monroe hang throughout Prospect Pantry at 1 W. Main St. A weathered menu from one of her grandfather's restaurants is framed on the wall.

"I definitely kind of feel their energy here," Wright said as she gazed at a photo of her late grandparents.

The bathroom's floor is covered in pennies — a nod to Wright's grandmother. When Patty died in 2011, Wright put a penny in her coffin to give herself something to remember her by, so it felt like a sign when the Wright family moved to 1 West Main four years ago and found a random jar of pennies in the building.

"It very much felt like the universe was aligning," Wright said.

In contrast to the old photos and penny floor, the rest of the eatery comes alive with vibrant color.

A rainbow of cutting boards hangs above booth seating. A gum ball machine greets customers at the front door.

Moss in shades of green covers a portion of one wall with a message in neon: "If these walls could talk."

Prospect Pantry began welcoming customers at its soft opening June 11. Its current offerings include the açaí bowl, watermelon salad with balsamic glaze, guacamole toast, a chicken salad croissant sandwich, smoked salmon on a bagel, and more.

Wherever possible, it sources local food, which Wright expects to change with the seasons. Wright said the staff takes care to prepare gluten-free meals with a completely separate toaster and panini press.

Wright plans to expand the days the restaurant are open and the menu after the grand opening, hopefully in July. She is working on adding to her staff of roughly 12 people.

Her favorite helper, though, is her husband, Michael. The couple left California in 2011, moved to D.C., then to New Market about four years ago when Ashly was relocated for work.

They quickly got involved in the community.

Michael is a Frederick County firefighter and New Market town councilman. Ashly serves on the town's Green Team and events committee and helps run the farmers market.

Michael previously spent about 20 years in the restaurant industry, where Ashly met her Mr. Wright. Ashly also has 20 years of restaurant experience and spent 10 years working for Marriott, where she specialized in everything food and beverage.

After moving to New Market, Ashly saw the need for a breakfast and lunch spot in town.

"I love that New Market is so unique," providing a mix of residential living and business in one place, Ashly said.

The COVID-19 pandemic prolonged the opening of Prospect Pantry, she said, and they wanted to get it right. When they opened, they were well received.

"There's been an overwhelming amount of support from the town," Ashly said.

Her goals include supporting other businesses, which is evident in her decorating. The succulents on tables come from BUDS Plant Boutique in New Market. Artist Angle in Frederick framed their photos. Local artist Kellie Carson is responsible for the moss wall, cutting boards and light post painting.

In addition, Prospect Pantry is joining other New Market businesses to offer something special for families.

On Thursdays, parents can drop off their children at The Original Playhouse Children's Museum and head to Vintage next door for dinner. While the kiddos play, Prospect Pantry will bring food over to feed them, Ashly said.

The promotion is dubbed, "Thank Goodness It's Thursday," according to the Children's Museum's Facebook page.

Standing in Prospect Pantry on Monday, Ashly excitedly flitted from one piece of family memorabilia to the next. Each had a story. Michael, meanwhile, carefully arranged food on the counter.

The couple said it was a long road to this day, but now that it's here, Ashly could only describe it in one way.

"A dream come true."