East New Market

Property Reports

34 Main Street

Brannocks' (1925-)

(Also known as Brannocks' Garage, Amoco Service Station, Brannocks' Tavern, Pennypackers', Pennys' Restaurant & Tavern, and Mike's Tavern)

This building is currently under new ownership and will likely be reopened as a restaurant or bar sometime in 2008.  The site was most recently called "Mike's Tavern".   The structure was built in 1925 by Airey and Ethel Brannock.  She and her husband originally operated the site as an auto repair garage and later added gas pumps.  During its time as a garage and service station, it was a popular gathering place.  A dance hall was added in the back by 1940.  The site became known as "Brannocks' Tavern".  When it was later sold to a later owners, it became known as "Pennypackers'", "Penny's Restaurant & Tavern", and "Penny's Tavern" and still later "Mike's Tavern" and "Mike's".

Daily Banner - July 3, 1925 - East New Market Items -
Mr. Airey Brannock has purchased the house and lot occupied by Mrs. Jones and her son, Mr. Sam Jones, and will build a garage there, and he has purchased of Mr. Chas. Blake his residence, where he and Mrs. Brannock will reside.

Daily Banner September 17, 1925 - East New Market Items -
Work on the new garage being built by Mr. Airey Brannock, is progressing rapidly.

The building is located where the old Sherman Institute building used to stand.   The owners of the land where Mike's Tavern stands (and the former owners of the old Sherman Institute building) also owned the residence known as the William J. Payne House.  

From long time ENM natives Cliff & Margaret Blake Bloodsworth, now in their mid-80's.

Brannocks Gas Station"There was a nice yard on the left of (Fletcher's Folly) the big house, and room enough to play in the yard.  On the left of the yard was a small repair garage, which later had pumps added on. Then a dance hall was added in back, and when dances were held, the crowd was so large that cars were parked for blocks in all directions."  Mrs Ethel Brannock was the widowed owner of the bar/dance hall when I grew up in the 40's, and she died around 1960.

2008 Remodel Brannocks

Recently Johnny Warner and family bought Mike's Tavern (Brannock's) and began remodeling.  The Warner's plan to convert the structure into a nice restaurant.  Parking will be behind the restaurant and behind the William J. Payne House. 

Inside Penny's Tavern by Jim Pokrandt (ca. 1970s)

Norman Pennypacker took the long way to Penny's Tavern in this small, unassuming and relaxing North Dorchester town.  He traveled just about every road north of here between Alaska and Canada's Nova Scotia in his younger days before returning to Dorchester County 16 years ago.  Upon his arrival, he and his wife, Margaret Ann, plunked down the money for the tavern here on Main Street, and of course, named it Penny's.

"I was mostly a traveling man," Norman said.  After musing for a moment the Federalsburg are native added, "but this place fixed me."  And in the 16 years the Pennypackers have been fixed, the tavern has never been closed except for Christmas Day and vacation.  Of all of the world's uncertainties, Penny's local patronizers have been assured they could always get a drink and meal there. 

That certainly is a characteristic of a local establishment like Penny's.  They don't worry about tourist trade or attracting the big spenders.  That is left to finer restaurants near the water in the neighboring county and to the burger joints on Rt. 50.  Penny's is out of the way to all but the local people.  And when you're in the local people business, a warm atmosphere and moderately priced drinks and food are important.  A local tavern also must be a place where families can bring along children.

Penny's is all of this.  But please don't take the route Norman took to get there.  The only thing which turned him around was that the road he was traveling in Alaska gave out on him and ended.  He was really at the end of the road, so to speak.  The Pennypackers don't want their customers going to that extreme, however, before coming to their establishment.

The Pennypackers' easygoing personality meshes well with the building housing the tavern.  At one time the building used to be a girls' school and it had a steeple on it like a church.  Another time it was a barbershop.  Another time it was a garage.  The garage's cement floor can still be found under the wooden tung and groove floor in the dining room, Norman said.

For history trivia buffs, what was the first place in East New Market to get a beer license after Prohibition.  Margaret Ann said it was Penny's, but under another owner and another name.  Nobody mentioned whether it was the only tavern in town at the time.  Like the Pennypackers, the building has seen many things.

To describe the food at Penny's is best done by describing the Pennypacker's day.  They open at 9 a.m. and serve breakfast.  Norman calls the morning "the coffee hour for farmers."  They come in, eat, drink coffee, and read about the market situation in the newspapers Penny's has delivered.  "They come from all around to meet here," Norman said.  The day progresses through a lunch menu of sandwiches, subs, or quarter-pound freshly ground hamburgers.  Come dinner time, a hungry patron can feed his face on a Porterhouse steak, homemade crab cakes, a few other seafood selections or the daily special.

On Sunday, Penny's offers a $2.50 dinner special, which they said is well-attended.  You get a meal, salad, two vegetables and rolls for the price.  In consideration of the Sunday diners, Norman doesn't allow use of the pool table on the Sabbath.  He said some people think he bans the pool playing because, "I'm religious."

Evenings, at Penny's, people can come in for just a drink at the front bar, or a late meal.  If you get there at the right time, you can catch a sing-a-long involving all the patrons.  Newcomers are asked to join.  The sing-a-longs are spontaneous.  "They just pop up," Margaret Ann said.  "You never know when."

Penny's also offers two very special events during the year.  Thanksgiving, a turkey dinner is served with all the trimmings.  On New Year's Eve, there's a party with a free juke box.  And at 1 a.m. New Year's Day, the doors are locked and all present are served a free breakfast of ham, eggs, and home fries.  Margaret Ann said they offered the customers the option of a band or a free juke box and free breakfast.  They choose the latter.  And you thought only "Gino's gave you 'freedom of choice.'"

All food at Penny's is home cooked.  Food is served until 11 p.m. daily except Sundays when the kitchen closes at 8 p.m.  The menu which is simply read, with all three meals on one sheet of paper, is flexible with the seasons.  Penny's is located directly across the street from East New Market's other tavern, Johnny's.  The two trade business throughout the evening and offer what amounts to be the social center for northern Dorchester County.