Brown Derby opens; features fine dining and top-notch service

Ray Maxwell is back in the saddle again as chef-owner of the newly reopened Brown Derby.
Ray Maxwell is back in the saddle again as chef-owner of the newly reopened Brown Derby. Chris Barber — Digital First Media
Chef-owner Ray Maxwell dishes out a meal at the newly opened Brown Derby.
Chef-owner Ray Maxwell dishes out a meal at the newly opened Brown Derby. Chris Barber — Digital First Media

NEW GARDEN >> The Brown Derby is back, and it’s better than ever.

Ray Maxwell, owner and master chef, is bringing fine dining back to the area. He celebrated the grand opening of the Brown Derby on Baltimore Pike on Saturday. It had been the Fire Hill Pub.

“I’m trying to bring back dining the way it used to be,” said Maxwell, 46. “There will be old-fashioned style service, where servers wear black and white, with a tie. This is the framework of the old Brown Derby, only more modernized.”

The original Brown Derby began 82 years ago as a place where local residents came for Italian cuisine, hearty fare, confirmation meals, family reunions and rehearsal dinners.

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Maxwell and a new partner, Aaron Luna, have changed the menu, and it resembles much of the fare of the old Brown Derby.

“This will bring you back to a time when you went with your parents where you would get a prime rib and a baked potato bigger than your eyes could see, with great service,” Maxwell said. “It’s lobster, crab, steak, pasta and even Angus burger. We’re sticking to local Lancaster produce, and fresh fish from the Chesapeake.”

On the new menu, there’s Brown Derby favorites like crab ravioli for $24, eggplant lasagna for $14, chicken marsala for $16 or Angus short ribs for $18. There’s also crab cakes for $24, Lobster tail for $52, Jail Island Salmon for $21 stuffed flounder for $22 or Lobster Tempura for $25. A 6-ounce Black Angus filet mignon is $23, 12-ounce New York Strip Steak for $26, Derby Sirloin for $18 and prime pork chop for $18. Soups include exotic mushroom, three onion or classic snapper. On the sandwich menu is Chesepeake Crab Cake sandwich for $14, Prime Rib cheese steak with sautéed exotic mushrooms and onions for $12, meatball sliders for $8, an Angus steak burger for $10 or a barbecue brisket with moonshine barbecue sauce for $12.

The interior of the building had major renovation, and there is plenty of parking in the rear of the building.

“This is all about the experience,” Maxwell said, emphasizing that quality customer service is his prime goal. “We believe our prices are very, very fair for what you get. Our servers have a tie with vest on, and it’s all very proper. This is a 360-degree change from what (The Fire Hill Pub) was. I think people in this area want something like this, because there just isn’t anything like it around.”

Maxwell is a veteran chef who grew up in Kennett Square. He has worked at Maxwell Creeds, the Chadds Ford Inn, the Mendenhall Inn and the Dilworthtown Inn during his career. He also operates a meal takeout booth at Liberty Place in Kennett Square called Chefotopia.

About the Author

Fran Maye

Fran Maye is an award-winning journalist and a graduate of Shippensburg University. He and his wife Marianne live in East Marlborough. He enjoys golf and is a 4.0 tennis player. Reach the author at kennettpaper@gmail.com or follow Fran on Twitter: @kennettpaper.