Two weeks ago, an anniversary celebration was held at the Fife ’n Drum in the town of Kent, where great food, drinks, and music has been served to locals and visitors for 45 years.
A landmark in the historic town of Kent, the Fife ’n Drum was founded in 1973 by a musician from Long Island named Dolph Traymon. His wife Audrey was visiting someone in Kent and suggested that they move there and open a restaurant after her husband had complained that there was nowhere to eat lunch in Kent. And so they did — and Dolph Traymon played the piano at their custom-built piano bar for five hours every night, six days a week for over thirty years.
The Fife ’n Drum Restaurant has been a family-owned and operated business since Dolph and Audrey Traymon opened it in 1973. In 1977, Traymon’s daughter Elissa Potts assumed management of the restaurant. She and her husband George Potts are still running it today. The Fife ‘n Drum has won numerous dining awards and has served as a gathering place for lovers of fine music and hospitality. Since 1992, it has been an annual recipient of the Best of Award of Excellence from the Wine Spectator Magazine.
Elissa and George both grew up in Locust Valley on Long Island, about 3 miles away from each other. Although they actually met once in high school, they didn’t start dating until they both ended up at Lake Forest College outside Chicago. They moved back east in 1976 to help Elissa’s parents with the Fife.
This past January 20 and 21 was a great weekend at the Fife ’n Drum where hundreds of people celebrated its 45th anniversary. Roger Young and George Potts provided the entertainment. Thousands of dollars worth of Thank You gifts were distributed to the guests—in the form of Sealed Gift Certificates—good for anything from a free glass of wine to a $45 meal. The kicker: customers cannot open the certificates unless they return to the Fife between March 1 and April 15 (45 Days!). Upon their return, a Fife employee must open the envelope to see what the customer has won. A few cases of special bottles of wine, each marked with a 45th Anniversary label, were also given out as gifts.
When asked what their secret is to sustaining an eatery successfully for so long, Elissa Potts replied, “Listening to our customers. Also, I never take a day for granted. Working hard, being involved with the community and never giving up have been fundamental to our growth.”
During the 45 years, they added 2 dining rooms—one in 1979 and one in time for the 30th Anniversary in 2003. In 2013, they updated the uniforms from the traditional white shirt, black vest/bow tie and black pants to blue and white striped shirts, black pants, black aprons and with ties that Elissa changes each quarter to keep it fresh. And in 2017, they created an outdoor dining area.
“Over the years, we have gone from a very traditional menu — ‘old school’ menu — to a menu that still features our specialties, but stays current with local farms and different food trends. We have expanded our wine list and have consistently won the Best of Award of Excellence from the Wine Spectator Magazine since 1998. We now have over 7000 bottles and 825 unique wines featured. Our prize is a 1952 Magnum of Margaux and a complete vertical of Opus.”
There are some popular dishes at the Fife that have remained on the menu for over 40 years due to demand. Their Steak/Filet au Poivre, Duck Flambé, Onion Soup and Caesar Salad have been mainstays. In the past 15 years, the Sticky Chicken appetizer has also come on strong.
New items on the menu reflect today’s tastes such as gluten-free and vegetarian diets. George explains, “There are many items marked GF and V on the menu. Our menus must change all the time to adapt to our customers’ likes and dislikes. FYI, we no longer serve the Floating Islands & Jello with Whipped Cream desserts that we did in the early 70’s!”
The Fife is known by locals and friends from afar as a place to have great food, enjoy a glass of wine, and listen to music while gathering with friends. Mikhail Baryshnikov, Milos Forman, Eric Sloane, Jimmy Cagney, Richard Widmark, Paul Newman, and Patty Lupone were guests at the Fife ’n Drum in years past. “More recently, we’ve also hosted Michael J Fox, Kevin Bacon, Chevy Chase, Bob Avian, Dr. Henry Kissinger, Richard Schlessinger, David Bouley, Margot Martindale, Jimmy Fallon, and others — many enjoy their anonymity when they are at the Fife,” says George. With George and Elissa Potts at the helm, the Fife ’n Drum will keep the good vibes going and will soon be celebrating the business’s 50th Anniversary. When asked what their plans are for the future of the Fife, Elissa replies, “Future plans are to finish off the wine cellar.”
All menu items are available for Take Out – just call ahead to have your order ready when you arrive…..and make sure to ask about daily Lunch & Dinner Specials.
George & Elissa have kept her father’s tradition of providing musical entertainment for their guests. The Fridays@theFife music series is dedicated to the memory of Elissa’s father Dolph Traymon.
Gift Certificates…great choice, simple decision, perfect for holiday gifts, birthdays, or anniversaries.
Birthday Celebrations, Baby Showers, Family Reunions and Business Meetings with Lunch or Dinner to follow are some of the services offered. Whether the celebration is small and intimate or on a grander scale up to several hundred guests, the Fife ‘n Drum can provide food and staff to make it a memorable event.
Marriage License arranged and delivered same day if mid-week (weekends require two days notice).
Fife ‘n Drum Restaurant, Inn & Gift Shop
53 North Main Street
Monday, Wednesday, & Thursday 5:30 – 9:30 p.m.
Friday 5:30 – 10:00 p.m.
Saturday 5:30 – 10:30 p.m.
Sunday 3:00 – 8:30 p.m.
11:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Sunday Brunch –
11:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.