If you haven’t visited historic Leonardtown recently, there’s so many new and exciting things happening in Town that you’ll definitely want to include the town regularly in your summer plans. Leonardtown is known for its fine dining and one-of-a-kind experiences, and the new restaurants and specialty shops that have recently hung shingles in Town certainly add to the rich culture and exciting energy in this vibrant town, and there are a lot of exciting changes with some long-standing businesses and events that make them worth taking another look.
For those looking for a comfortable, casual dining experience, Smokey Joe’s on the Town and Dos Amigos Mexican Grill on Washington Street and The Slice House on Park Avenue add a wonderful variety of dining options for visitors. Smokey Joe’s on the Town provides great home-style American cuisine – offering everything from pulled pork, spicy jerked chicken, baby back ribs and wings. Round out the meal with their beer battered onion rings or loaded fries. A special feature is the wall that opens to the outside on warmer days lending the restaurant a cool, indoor/outdoor vibe; Dos Amigos Mexican Grill, located on the corner of Washington and Fenwick Street, has already become a core fixture in town. Their shrimp fajitas are a local favorite, and visitors will love the friendly, relaxed atmosphere. Their outdoor dining provides front row seating to the exciting summer concerts and events that take place in Leonardtown Square; and the Slice House offers authentic, New York-style pizza that can be ordered, of course by the slice, but soon patrons will also be able to order full pies as well. Owner, Ken Held, lovingly restored the business that sits on the corner of Park and Lawrence Avenue to include pieces of Leonardtown history – with historic photos of “Old Town Leonardtown” hung throughout the restaurant, and when you visit, be sure to check out the one-of-a-kind piece of artwork that hangs above the ovens. Nick (Torch) Boyd of Maryland Custom Metals at Shepherd’s Old Field Market created the impressive metal pizza slice artwork for the pizza house. These special pieces of Leonardtown lend the pizza house a feeling of already being an authentic town landmark.
A trip to Leonardtown wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Shepherd’s Old Field (SOF) Market, a historic warehouse and hardware store rehabbed into an indoor marketplace and community gathering space located on Duke Street behind the Leonardtown Fire House. The Market opened last year and already houses close to 35 eclectic, specialty shops and has recently added a coffee shop and beer garden (Brudergarten). Attached to the Market is a personal training studio that opened with SOF Market, root, SUP & Fitness. The studio offers unique fitness experiences from Stand Up Paddleboarding, bootcamp style fitness classes, and aerial yoga. SOF Market is definitely the place to be as they frequently host live music and special events from fashion shows and wine tastings to comedy improv nights. Town Administrator, Laschelle McKay recently talked about what a wonderful addition SOF Market is to the Town, “¬¬¬¬The opening of Shepherd’s Old Field Market and the Brudergarten has brought new shopping and entertainment options along with providing an incubator for small startup businesses.”
One business that started as a specialty shop in SOF Market and has grown and developed is contemporary clothing boutique, Bourbon & Bows. Bourbon & Bows has recently moved from SOF to its own location on Fenwick Street right off the Leonardtown Square (between Board & Brush and S-Kape Salon and Spa). Bourbon & Bows offers unique brands that can’t be found in local stores. They feature items ranging from casual to dressy women and men’s clothing, handmade jewelry, shoes, and other fun accessories. “We are very happy to be a part of the Leonardtown business community.”, store owner, Cameron Rich, shared. Ms. Rich went on to note, “The existing businesses on Fenwick Street and throughout the town have been very welcoming and encouraging. We are excited to be a part of such a great area where everything (shopping, dining, and entertainment) are all within walking distance.”
Anyone looking for fun, unique experiences should check out Board & Brush and Escape Rooms of Southern Maryland. At Board & Brush, visitors can choose decorative pieces from boards to clocks to distress and then personalize with stain, paint and stencils. By the end of the evening, attendees have a finished piece of art to take home. At Escape Rooms of Southern Maryland, groups work together to search for clues and hidden puzzles to unlock a mystery of each room in order to “escape”. Both businesses opened in 2018 and offer entertaining group activities that are great for special celebrations and team-building exercises.
Changes are also taking place with the events and happenings in Town. Leonardtown, one of twenty-six Arts & Entertainment Districts in Maryland, has created a new, one-of-a-kind event for music, art and food lovers this season. The Leonardtown Summer Music Festival (LSMF) combines the Commissioners of Leonardtown’s Summer Concert Series and the Leonardtown Business Association’s Downtown Tunes Concert Series into one amazing music festival that will run from Saturday, May 18th – September 7th. The festival will provide a summer of free concerts, dancing, great food and fun. Featured artists include Six Gun South, Ryan Forrest Band, Latrice Carr, Wesley Spangler, and Robbie Boothe. And now, attendees will be able to pre-order picnic bags from participating businesses in Town for select concerts. Participating local restaurants include: Social Coffeehouse & Speakeasy, Big Larry’s Eatery, Jessie’s Kitchen, Smokey Joe’s on the Town, Shepherd’s Old Field Market and Port of Leonardtown Winery. Additionally, parents can drop off their children to be entertained with kid-friendly art experiences at participating businesses/organizations for select concerts including: St. Mary’s Arts Council, Leonardtown Arts Center, Wine & Design’s Art Buzz Kids, and with Artist, Carrie Patterson (Carrie’s art studio opened in Leonardtown last year, and she will be offering her new Yellowline Art Project Boxes for kids to try during the Drop N’ Dine for select concerts). The LSMF is sponsored by the Commissioners of Leonardtown and Leonardtown Business Association in partnership with the St. Mary’s Arts Council and James LePore Productions. For the full concert schedule and to learn how to order a picnic bag for this season’s concerts or to participate in the Drop N’ Dine Program, visit: www.LeonardtownMusicFest.com.
Ms. McKay noted, “If you haven’t been to Leonardtown in a while you need to visit soon. There is so much happening. New housing in Clarks Rest and Meadows at Town Run, new apartments right downtown with Park Ave. Apartments, Seymour Town Apartments and now the brand-new Hamptons at Leonardtown apartment complex. The Leonardtown Wharf waterfront park is getting a new amenity as well, construction of a new floating dock for transient boats will begin this summer. A visit to Leonardtown, Southern Maryland’s only Arts & Entertainment District, is a must this summer!”
Leonardtown’s Mayor, Daniel Burris, summed it up by saying, “It’s an exciting time to be a part of Leonardtown with all the new things happening in Town.”