Manor Line Market

Megan Benson, the chef at Manor Line Market, stands near a food case in the market on Wednesday in Front Royal. 

FRONT ROYAL — Rachel Failmezger knows a thing or two about the restaurant scene in the Front Royal area.

That’s why when she set about opening Manor Line Market, at 401 E. Main St., she already had what she said she believed to be a pretty good plan.

“I knew who was going to be involved, who was going to work for me, and we’ve had a plan. It’s come together well,” said Failmezger, who joked that she’s probably hired about half the town while running both PaveMint Smokin’ Taphouse and Vinova Tapas and Wine Bar in addition to previous ventures. “It’s a lot less trial and error. I already know how I’m going to work with someone and how their culinary experience fits in with what we’re doing.”

Through that plan, Failmezger identified the space on Main Street. She said she’d tried to get it previously but another establishment beat her to the punch before. So, when it came available earlier this year, she jumped at the chance.

“To be honest, I’ve wanted this spot forever. I’ve always wanted a spot across from the gazebo, but this was actually my favorite,” she said.

Soon after, she took Manor Line Ranch’s Edwin Wright up on a partnership offer that allows the market to feature products from Wright’s ranch. The two have worked together on various other partnerships, so Failmezger said she knew what to expect and the deal was easy to work out.

Among her next steps was to hire the perfect chef. For Manor Line Market, it was Megan Benson.

“I had one person in mind in the very beginning, and she’d worked for me in the past,” Failmezger said, referring to Benson. “She’s incredibly talented, very organized, has a great palate and she doesn't need much monitoring.”

Everything else fell into place, and the market opened about two weeks ago downtown.

With confidence in her ability to find a way to get the market open even during trying times, COVID-19 was just a small hiccup in the road.

“It was hard at first. We signed our partnership agreement March 9 and on March 17, everything went crazy. Having two other restaurants up and running and having to adjust what we were doing there, it took about 16 hours a day of my time,” Failmezger said. “It was hard to build this while doing all that, but we managed to do it in about four and a half months.”

The current menu for the market, which is open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week, features sandwiches, gourmet salads, soups, cheeses and charcuterie boards, wine, beer and some niche alcohol like seltzers, teas and meads. Failmezger said the popular item currently is the BLT.

Items can be picked up grab-and-go style or food can be ordered from the menu with limited indoor seating. The market has also been using patio furniture for outdoor seating on the weekends when the town closes Main Street.

Items in the market are made by Chef Benson from the foods that are also for sale in the market, which feature products the staff raises or grows or secures from local vendors as well as “things we love from around the world.”

“You can gourmet grocery shop here or pick up things for trips to wineries or a hike,” Failmezger said. “But we also use what we have in the market to prepare food for the inside.”

Failmezger said her background is in design and marketing, but when she moved to Front Royal to be closer to her family she got in tune with the culinary world while helping her now-husband run his wine and cheese shop.

“I fell in love with it,” she said. “It takes my background of design and marketing and turns it into a culinary experience.”

— Contact Matt Welch at mwelch@winchesterstar.com