HAGERSTOWN — Welliver’s has new owners who plan to reopen the longtime dining landmark with a new name — but the same menu — this fall.
Penny and Mike Wickes, who own Precision Wire Assemblies in Hagerstown, have purchased the restaurant, which has been closed since late March. They are keeping the menu but renaming the restaurant Willie & Red’s, for the founder, Guy “Willie” Welliver, and in honor of several other family connections.
The Wickeses finalized the purchase on Friday.
Although many decisions are yet to be made, Penny Wickes said that Aimee Foust will be helping manage the reopened restaurant. She is a granddaughter of the restaurant’s founder and had helped manage the restaurant in recent years. Wickes did not know how many other people from the former staff would return.
Wickes said that extensive remodeling is needed before they can reopen the restaurant. Welliver’s was known for its smorgasbord but also offered a full menu of food choices. The new restaurant will initially include only the menu side. Wickes also is hopeful that the restaurant will be able to serve liquor when it reopens.
Welliver’s began in 1946 as a country cafe. The founder, Guy Welliver, and his wife, Bette, decided that if it was to grow, it had to become known for something unique and they added a smorgasbord.
Over the years, the restaurant became well known for the smorgasbord and the restaurant expanded to include five downtown buildings. In its heyday, people lined up for two blocks to eat there on holidays, and it drew people from the region. Private pilots would fly into the Hagerstown Airport and Welliver would drive down in his car to bring them to his restaurant.
But in recent years, the restaurant had fallen on hard times. In mid-2009, Indianapolis-area businessman Tony Bucher announced that he was going to buy the restaurant and continue to run it under the Welliver’s name.
However, that agreement to purchase was apparently not completed. The buildings housing the restaurant were sold at a county tax sale last December. In March, the owners — members of the Welliver family — announced that the restaurant would close.