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Inside Family Meal, Bryan Voltaggio's Sweet New Diner

[R. Lopez]

Bryan Voltaggio is giving Washingtonians yet another reason to visit Frederick, Maryland, with his latest project Family Meal set to open at the end of this month. Joining Volt and Lunchbox in his growing collection of restaurants — including the forthcoming Range, which will finally be one located in DC — Family Meal is Voltaggio's attempt at "reinventing the American diner in a fun way." The hope, he says, is for families to be able to come in for any meal of the day, including his own kids. And of all his restaurants, this is the one at which the chef says he wishes he could dine.

Family Meal is set in what was once a car dealership, which is still evident given its location as a window-lined island in an expansive parking lot. To give the space a diner-like feel, the chef says he enlisted Topline Countertops — located just across the street — to make "the largest countertop we could" around the bar. So there's a lot of bar seating, as with any self-respecting diner, about 11 booths lining the walls and some tables in between that groups can slide together as necessary. A patio next to the entrance will seat another 32 diners.

In good news for people who like to steal shit from restaurants, there's going to be a lot of tempting knick knacks. The plan is to hang logo-emblazoned coffee mugs (available for purchase) from antique wine bottle drying racks, serve beer in coozies (also for sale), and antique maple syrup buckets will serve as wine buckets. Finally, checks will be presented in a dish that looks like a New York City parking ticket.

Family Meal will offer several canned beer selections — including Schlitz and High Life — as well as 10 beers on tap, the first time in 20 years that Voltaggio can remember working in a restaurant with draft beer. In addition to wines by the glass, Family Meal's cocktail list will focus on the classics and hangover remedies to come in handy for all the breakfast-and-brunchers. There will also be coffee, of course, and a local tea shop is doing special blends just for Family Meal. Oh, and there will be a guy whose entire job will be to make milkshakes. Including boozy milkshakes.

Family Meal will be canning and selling preserves seasonally, including pickled ramps, okra and string beans now, with plans for canned peaches and apricots later. These will also be used in dishes at Family Meal. Though the menu isn't yet set, expect things like fried chicken, waffles, meatloaf, pork chops, seared whole fish, and an emphasis on local produce — including Family Meal's own tomatoes, planted outside the restaurant. Fries will be available cooked in canola oil, peanut oil and assorted animal fats such as duck fat. On the dessert side, they'll also be doing pastries for breakfast and cakes, pies, cookies and ice cream sundaes otherwise.

Family Meal is slated to open the last week of June. As for how Voltaggio plans to manage all of his properties? Well, he's thinking of buying an ATV to drive down the street between Family Meal and Volt.

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Family Meal

880 N East Street, Frederick, MD 21701 301 378 2895