Jesse's and Molly's change ownership

by Mika Jehoon Lee | 1/19/18 2:10am

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Jesse's and Molly's, two Upper Valley restaurants, are now owned by Anthony and Erin Barnett.

by Naomi Lam / The Dartmouth Staff

On Jan. 2, Marc and Patty Milowsky sold Jesse’s Steak, Seafood & Tavern and Molly’s Restaurant to Anthony Barnett, director of operations at Blue Sky Restaurant Group, and his wife, Erin Barnett, according to Marc Milowsky. Blue Sky Restaurant Group is the umbrella entity under which Jesse’s and Molly’s both operate.

Marc Milowsky said he and Anthony Barnett began discussing the sale of Jesse’s and Molly’s two years ago. Marc Milowsky said he had intended to sell the two Hanover restaurants and retire, while Anthony Barnett had expressed interest in purchasing them.

Jennifer Packard, director of corporate relations and human resources at Blue Sky, said the ownership change has been a smooth transition.

“[The sale] was a natural progression for us from a corporate side because it wasn’t someone new coming from the outside,” Packard said. “[Anthony Barnett] has been here for a very long time and he understands our culture, philosophy, what the restaurants stand for and what we are trying to accomplish.”

Marc Milowsky added that since joining Blue Sky in 2008, Anthony Barnett has helped to develop the culture of the two restaurants.

Anthony Barnett started with Blue Sky as the kitchen manager at Molly’s before being promoted to general manager at Jesse’s. He eventually became the director of operations for both restaurants, according to Marc Milowsky.

“[My wife and I] decided that if we did sell the restaurants, we wanted to perpetuate what we have done over the past 42 years and we didn’t want to sell it to somebody who really knew nothing about our team members, our philosophy and our commitment to the community,” Marc Milowsky said. “We wanted someone who had some history with all of that, and [Anthony Barnett] was actively thinking about doing something on his own so the timing was right for both of us.”

Despite the sale, Marc Milowsky said he will retain ownership of the restaurants’ real estate. He added that he and his wife are open to give the Barnetts any advice for managing the restaurants if need be.

“[Anthony Barnett] knows that he and I are really close,” Marc Milowsky said. “At this point, we have a very good relationship, and we are both interested in the success of the businesses and making sure there is as little change as possible in terms of the relationship with the community.”

James Hur ’18, who has dined at Molly’s at least three times every term since his freshman fall, said he hopes the new owners will maintain the special atmosphere of the restaurant.

“When I go to Molly’s, I feel like I am part of a tradition — I could see the history of Dartmouth at Molly’s through its various scoreboards and posters,” Hur said. “That is something I want the new owners to preserve — the connection to Dartmouth and the Hanover community.”

On the other hand, John Rossi ’20, who usually dines at Molly’s once a term, said he would be interested in seeing the new owners add new dishes to the menu.

“I would say that the new owners should not change the physical menu — they are like album covers so they are really cool,” Rossi said. “Regarding the food items that go on the menu, they could explore a little bit and try some new recipes.”

Packard said she does not expect the Barnetts to implement any changes to the corporate structure nor the day-to-day operations of the two restaurants. She added that the managers, chefs and the staff members are all unaffected.

“What we do that Jesse’s is what we’ve done for 41 years and what we do at Molly’s is what we’ve always done, so there is no intent to really change anything,” Packard said. “Jesse’s and Molly’s are institutions in the Upper Valley — we have no intention to change that in any way.”