Hall’s Family Restaurant up for sale

WYOMING — It was a little confusing for Ray Hall when he signed up to serve in the U.S. Air Force in 1958.
That’s when he received his orders to report to Dover Air Force Base after spending a year-and-a-half in the Army National Guard in West Virginia.

“I wondered, where the hell is Dover? Where the hell is Delaware?” Mr. Hall said with a laugh. “Dela-where?”

Little did he know at that time of the mark he would eventually leave on a small town just south of Dover as his Hall’s Family Restaurant in Wyoming has endured for 22 years, attracting people far and wide who come to the unpretentious eatery for pleasant conversation and tasty homemade food.

Mr. Hall surprised several dignitaries, close friends and family members when, while celebrating the 50th anniversary of his retirement from the Air Force on Aug. 28, he made the announcement that he will be selling Hall’s Family Restaurant.

“There’s a lot of (potential buyers) around,” Mr. Hall said. “There aren’t many restaurants like this one anymore. I have listed it for sale. I’m not trying to keep it a secret. It’s for sale. My employees all know it’s for sale.
“There’s a lot of mistaken rumors out there that we were closing. We’re not going to close. We’ll be right here until we have another buyer.”

It promises to be difficult for anybody to match the reputation that Hall’s Family Restaurant has built at 108 N. Railroad Avenue over more than two decades of serving up tasty homemade meals that resemble “Mom’s cooking.”

Ray Hall sitting at the counter in his restaurant.

Just glancing at their specials from July 31 revealed a variety of choices such as chicken and dumplings, giblets and dumplings, grilled rainbow trout and a fried bologna sandwich with soup.
The specials from July 15 included meatloaf, liver and onions, turkey croquettes, grilled salmon on rice and fried chicken livers.
Those are the kinds of things that cannot be found on the menus of most chain restaurants nowadays. Plus, Hall’s has a long-standing tradition that it is always closed on Sunday, unlike most restaurants that line the highway in Dover and Camden.

Mr. Hall said there’s no great secret to his success as a restaurateur.
“It’s just home meals,” he said. “Home cooking — that’s what we advertise and that’s what we do. We don’t buy prepared stuff. We buy fresh foods and when the locals have got anything on fresh then we use that. Right now, we have Fifer’s corn and we had the strawberry shortcake and got fresh strawberries right out of Fifer’s fields.”

Ron Loockerman visited Hall’s for lunch on Wednesday afternoon and said he’ll miss the restaurant once it’s sold.
“It’s sad really,” he said. “You know the guys run it really well and the food’s always good. Hopefully, the new owners can continue it. We’re running out of places like this that serves good traditional homemade food.”

Mr. Hall said he has had regular customers plead with him not to sell the business.
“They’re going to miss us,” he said. “They don’t want us to sell, but you’ve got to do it sometimes.”
Mr. Hall, who had served 20 years and two months of active duty in the Air Force before he had a disability retirement, said that he and his son Steve have both been battling health problems and just can’t keep up the pace anymore.

“I’ve been here 22 years, I’m 89-years-old and my health hasn’t been good,” said Mr. Hall. “I’ve had open-heart surgery and I’ve had a heart attack — just several things.
“The last month I’ve been having unbelievable medical problems and just (Wednesday) they got part of it straightened out. They put a pacemaker in me in May and it had quit working. They adjusted it (Wednesday) and it’s back to working and I feel better already.”

Mr. Hall also marked the gathering on Aug. 28 by donating a pair of checks for $2,500 each to the Modern Maturity Center in Dover and Harvest Years Senior Center in Camden.
“I thought while I’m still here and while I’m still open, I wanted to give a little something back to the community,” he said. “I wanted to help feed the less fortunate, those that are no longer able to come in for their meals.

“The people that used to come in all the time, a lot of them can’t anymore, and they’re getting assistance on these Meals on Wheels and Harvest Years picks them up and takes them shopping and does shopping for them and this kind of stuff, so I just decided the best thing I could do is to give back. I wanted to do it while I was still here as owner and not after I sold the place.”

The latest review left on Hall’s Family Restaurant’s Facebook page on Aug. 31 probably sums up the feelings of many of its loyal customers.
“Feel like family when you walk in ’til you walk out, no matter if it’s your first time or you’re are a common fixture there. Great service and always incredible food that is made with lots of love.

“I have to say we’re losing a major Delaware staple. But we wish the Hall family the best and know they’ll be very discerning when it comes to finding the right people or family to take over their labor of love.”
Mr. Hall said he isn’t planning on changing his lifestyle too much with his soon to come free time.

“I’ll probably just come to the restaurant to see my friends,” he said.
Only this time, he will be on the other side of the counter and tables.

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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