Surprise party leads to business New owners: Couple creates the Ridge Roadhouse, which offers a family atmosphere and will have a new menu.

November 17, 1995|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,SUN STAFF

It all began in May when Jim Lash was planning a surprise birthday party for his wife at Rewster's restaurant in Taylorsville.

Mr. Lash was going over the details of the party with restaurant owner Doug Henley. But by the time the conversation ended, Mr. Lash was more surprised than anyone.

"One thing led to another, and here we are," said Mr. Lash, who became the new owner of Rewster's last month and has renamed it Ridge Roadhouse. It opened for business Oct. 20.

For the past three weeks, Mr. Lash and his wife, Sandy, have been settling in at the Roadhouse, near the intersection of

Routes 26 and 27.

Mr. Lash said a restaurant has occupied the location for more than 20 years, with Mr. Henley and his partner, Ray Watts, running Rewster's for 16 years.

The restaurant business is not entirely new to the Lashes, who for four years owned a Southwest Baltimore eatery called Little Bits, Sandy Lash's nickname. And Mrs. Lash's father owned the former Skipper's restaurant in Baltimore for many years.

"I think my father is probably turning over in his grave, saying, 'What did she get herself into?' " Mrs. Lash said.

Mr. Lash, 55, retired in September as vice president of facilities at Howard County General Hospital, where he worked for 11 years. He previously had worked at Bon Secours Hospital in Baltimore for 15 years.

Mr. Lash says he likes "everything" about the restaurant business.

"I like dealing with people and the frenzy associated with it," he said.

The Lashes, who live in Mount Airy, had been regular customers fTC at Rewster's for about five years. They've always liked the neighborhood feel of the place but plan to make it more family-oriented.

"This place has always been known as a bar that happens to have a restaurant," Mr. Lash said. "I want to change it to a restaurant that has a bar."

One of the first changes will be a new menu.

"We're going to concentrate on steaks and seafood and introduce some pastas," Mr. Lash said.

Crab fluff, an old Rewster's favorite, will remain on the menu. The dish, which was frequently advertised on the restaurant's outdoor sign, is made from balls of crab imperial dipped in batter and fried.

Eventually, the Lashes plan to add an outdoor crab deck off the dining room to capitalize on the restaurant's steamed crab business.

One addition to the Ridge Roadhouse since the Lashes took over is an antique freight wagon in front of the restaurant. The couple plans to fence in an area near the wagon so that horseback-riding customers can tie their mounts outside the restaurant.

Mrs. Lash said many residents in the area own horses.

Next spring, the Lashes plan to make interior changes to the restaurant so that the bar area is more isolated from the dining room and has more room for dancing.

The lounge features live music and karaoke.

The Lashes said they plan to continue the annual horseshoe contest at the Ridge Roadhouse to raise money for the Maryland Special Olympics. Rewster's began the tradition 14 years ago.

"We're trying to make this a pleasant place for families to bring their children, but we also want to keep our lounge customers," Mrs. Lash said.

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