Returning to Lancaster County in 2010 with a culinary resume that included 13 years as a chef at the White House, John Moeller began a catering company, published a book and taught cooking classes.
And while Moeller said he thought owning a restaurant was likely in his future, the opportunities and the timing just never seemed right.
That is, until now.
Assuming the new role of restaurant owners, Moeller and his wife, Suryati, have agreed to buy the Greenfield Restaurant and Bar, a restaurant in a circa-1790 farmhouse at the Greenfield Corporate Center.
“It’s the only thing that spoke to me since I’ve been back in Lancaster,” said Moeller, 56, who graduated from Lancaster Catholic High School then left for culinary school in Rhode Island, studied French cuisine and worked at restaurants in France and joined the White House kitchen in 1992 as sous chef before assuming the title of White House Chef in 2005.
With Greenfield Restaurant and Bar, Moeller said he’s found a place with the reputation, location and history that makes him confident about now becoming a restaurateur.
“I want to keep what’s been going great there,” said Moeller, who expects to maintain the restaurant’s roughly 40 employees, leave its menu unchanged and continue to host live music.
Moeller said he will still operate State of Affairs Catering but will merge that business with Greenfield’s catering business.
Begun in 1979, the restaurant at 595 Greenfield Road — originally called The Olde Greenfield Inn — has been owned and operated since 1991 by Ray Hottenstein and his wife, Sue.
The restaurant is in the former home of the Clymer family, which farmed the land that subsequently became Greenfield Corporate Center. It was turned into a restaurant by High Associates, which continues to own the property.
Today, Greenfield Restaurant and Bar has seating inside for around 180, includes space in a main dining room, several smaller dining rooms, and a bar. There’s also room for about 40 people at an outdoor patio.
The Hottensteins' daughter Kristen and son Rafe, who both work at the restaurant, will help with the ownership transition, but don’t plan to stay on beyond that, Hottenstein said.
“We had a great run there. A great run. We are very excited for ourselves, our family, for John Moeller, and our customers. It’s a good thing,” said Hottenstein, 71, who will be retiring.
“This is the deal of a lifetime for both of us,” Hottenstein said of the sale to the Moellers.
The transaction, which includes the restaurant business, liquor license and the lease for the property, is expected to be finalized by early or mid-July, when the transfer of the liquor license is complete.
Both Moeller and Hottenstein declined to give the sale price.
Moeller was represented in the transaction by Dan Berger and Dan Berger Jr. of U.S. Commercial Realty. Hottenstein was represented by Ruth Devenney and Mike Bowser of High Associates.