By Stephen Seitz
PROCTORSVILLE—Since Sept. 22, a new restaurant has appeared on Route 106 in Proctorsville: Neal’s Restaurant and Bar has opened. Neal’s takes over from what had been Table 19.
“We decided to go for a soft opening,” said proprietor and Perkinsville resident Neal Baron. “We just put the flag out. Word of mouth is our greatest asset. We had more than 80 people in here last night.”
Neal’s is very much a family run business. Baron and his fiancee, Elizabeth Leninski, are partners in the venture. Both Baron’s mother and his son work there, too. In the kitchen is executive chef Christopher Vincent, aided by sous chef Steve Gross.
“I’ve gone out of my way to make them happy, and they are great,” he said. “My mother is a hostess,” he added. “This is all very new to her.”
“I was lucky enough to have a financial backer, if I found the right place,” he said.
Baron said it was his understanding that the previous owners, Joe and Katherine Turner, sold the business for personal reasons. Baron has kept the original layout. “Their eye for design is just amazing,” he said. “I’m no good at that.”
Neal’s serves American pub fare, with a New England flair – lobster rolls, buttermilk sea scallops, pulled pork and slow cooked brisket, fried chicken, mac and cheese, and much more.
Baron said he hopes to cater to a local clientele and keep his food affordable. Except for the oysters, everything on the menu can be ordered to go, and there are children’s portions as well.
Baron uses local farms and businesses for much of his fare: beef from Boyden Farms, produce from Black River Produce, and Vermont craft beer on tap. “We’re balancing sourcing locally with sourcing for consistency,” he said.
Baron said he hopes the word will get out through satisfied customers telling the people they know.
There are still a few things that need doing, Baron said. To get to the restaurant, you have to take the driveway by the adjacent building, and then turn left to get to Neal’s.
Looking down the road, Baron said he’d like to include a catering service. He hasn’t made up his mind whether to have live music. “We’ll re-evaluate that in the summer,” he said.