New owner settling in at King Phillip Restaurant

  • The new owner of Phillipston’s King Phillip restaurant, Harshal Patel (right) stands with his wife, Nikita, holding 1-year-old daughter Rehani, and 4-year-old son Reyaansh. GREG VINE

  • Harshal Patel, new owner of Phillipston’s King Phillip restaurant, is flanked by former owners Jean and Craig Twohey. Patel says the ‘Twohey’s Tavern’ sign behind them will stay.  —Greg Vine

  • Former King Phillip restaurant owner Craig Twohey, center, discusses the sale of the eatery with his wife Jean and new owner Harshal Patel.  —Greg Vine

For the Athol Daily News
Published: 8/2/2019 9:55:29 PM
Modified: 8/2/2019 9:55:15 PM

PHILLIPSTON – Loyal customers who worry that the sale of the King Phillip restaurant in Phillipston will mean a dramatic change in cuisine can put aside their concerns. Sale of the popular eatery by Craig and Jean Twohey to Harshal Patel of Littleton became official with the closing on the property this past Monday.

Craig Twohey took over the restaurant on Aug. 22, 1983, but had actually been feeding hungry locals for a decade before that as head chef at the Fox Run restaurant.

“When we bought this place,” he said, “we brought a lot of recipes that I had from there to here. People’s tastes have changed over the years. I’d say in the 70s and 80s, the average person wasn’t that sophisticated when it came to cooking styles. And people go out to eat way more now than they did then. Back then they’d go for a special occasion. Nowadays, people are out three, four, five times a week. They might come in here for dinner one night. They come in for appetizers on another night. So, along the way we’ve had to keep changing. The menu is always evolving.”

“I know (Harshal’s) plans are to keep things the same,” said Twohey. “Our staff will still be here. The chefs who have been here for years are staying here. I don’t know anybody who’s leaving, out of about 45 employees, unless they’re going off to school or something.”

Patel is a biologist by training. Yet, two years ago he purchased a restaurant – Chip Shots Pub – in Littleton.

“And then I was looking for a restaurant that has a typical New England feel,” he said. “So, I was looking around and this place was up for sale. I like how the food is, how the customers are pretty much loyal to this place. And everything worked out with Craig and me and I decided to buy it.”

“My wife was not too happy about,” said Patel with a smile. “But then I said, ‘Look we can buy it and then you can work there. So, now she is happy.”

Patel added that customers need not worry about any coming in to find Asian-Italian fusion cuisine.

“Early on in this business,” he said, “I learned if something is working you don’t need to touch it. Everything is working good here so I don’t want to change a thing. The main fear in buying an existing business in a town where the new owner doesn’t live is, will the people actually accept the new owner. Working with Craig, I really don’t have that fear here.”

Jean Twohey said the changes ahead for her and her husband are colored by a bit of melancholy.

“There are a lot of memories,” she said. “We raised our son here. And the customers. First, they’re just customers, then they kind of become regulars and acquaintances, then they become friends. Now, they’re like family. So, we’re really going to miss a lot of the people.”

As for the future, said Craig Twohey, “Jean’s still a teacher. And we still own Lee’s Hot Dog Stand in Baldwinville; that’s a seven-day-a-week operation. And hopefully, besides that, we’ll slow down a little bit. We’d like to putter around the house like everybody else does.”

There will be a meet and greet for the new owners Monday, from 5-8 p.m. at the restaurant, located at 35 State Rd. 

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