About Us

Please Your Palete

The Lemon Leaf Cafe and JR's Past Time Pub are nestled amid the historic streets of Chestertown, MD. 

Locals,  visitors and students alike come here time and time again, for it's the center of a strong community.

Growing up on the eastern shore of Maryland and living in Pasadena, California were huge influences in the creation of the Lemon Leaf Cafe. While living in California, JR Alfree and his friends were tired of eating out every night, so they started a dinner club.  Every Thursday night they went to a different house and the host was required to prepare the menu from scratch.

On one particular Thursday night, JR was stuck at work and didn't have time to shop for the fresh ingredients he needed or to buy flowers for the table.  His friends weren't off the hook, so he rummaged through items he had on hand and made his grand-mother's chicken and dumplings recipe. 

In lieu of the fresh flowers, he used lemons and lemon leaves from his backyard to decorate the table.  His friends very appropriately nicknamed him "The Lemon Leaf Cafe."  When JR moved back to Chestertown from California and decided to open a restaurant, the Lemon Leaf Cafe was born.

The chicken and dumplings is one of the signature dishes of the restaurant.  Many of the recipes used at The Lemon Leaf have been passed down from generation to generation, including the 150 year old recipe for homemade mayonnaise used in the chicken salad.

The food is affordable, but don't let the prices fool you.  This is a place to please your palate.  A variety of contemporary and Eastern Shore cuisine can be found on the dinner menu.  Mediterranean pasta, superb crab cakes and the award winning cream of crab soup are just a few of the delicious items available.  Homemade apple bread and freshly baked rolls are served with every dinner.  The Head Chef, Noreen Hicks, trained at the Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena, CA.


At breakfast, you can feast on flannel cakes with homemade apricot syrup.  Flannel cakes are a cross between a crepe and a pancake, and the homemade apricot syrup will keep you coming back for more.

And don't forget to save room for Miss Joanne's famous homemade desserts.  Miss Joanne Mulford was JR's Sunday school and pre-K teacher and is a life-long friend.   These "heavenly" desserts include individual coconut cream and lemon meringue pies, Georgia peach cobbler, southern-style apple crisp, Richard's mud pie and Ghirardelli brownie sundae.

In September 2013, JR took on the task of bringing life back to the once famous establishment known as Andy's, which is located next door to the Lemon leaf and can be accessed through the restaurant or its own private entrance.  Andy's, a local institution loved by people of all ages for over 20 years, closed in 2009. 

JR knew he had a tough act to follow, but wanted to put his own stamp on the bar while paying homage to its history.  Behind a cabinet door in the bar area, he found his answer.  Someone had placed a history of over 60 years of all the different bar names.  The first entry was Gus' Past Time.  JR's Past Time Pub was born, along with the idea of a vintage clock motif.  Clocks of all shapes and sizes grace the walls, along with vintage signs from past Chestertown businesses.  JR is both honored and proud to display these signs from the past.

However, JR's pub is more than just looking at the past.  The restaurant is very much in the present and looking forward to the future.  The patronage of the faculty and students from nearby Washington College makes the future as exciting as the past.

JR's Pub offers a variety of 12 different draft beers and hand-crafted cocktails made with freshly squeezed juices.  Jeff Maguire, has been serving drinks and telling stories for over 28 years; Jeff fell in love with Chestertown while attending Washington College, where he received a Master's Degree in English.  Jeff enjoys a good following in great part to his wit and wisdom and, of course, his timeless good looks never go out of style.

Within the pub you can go to the lounge and warm yourself by the brick fireplace, and just when you think you've seen it all, there is an additional dining room, and JR's favorite room of all, the piano bar.  In the piano bar on Wednesday nights from 5:30-7:30pm, you can enjoy local pianist Joe Holt. 

Family and Comfort are important at the Lemon Leaf Cafe and JR's Past Time Pub.  Many of the staff has known each other for years, like his general manager, Dawn Percer.  It's clear that people come first.  As JR is approaching 50, he has learned that life is about memories, not merchandise.

So come visit the Lemon Leaf Cafe and Jr's Past-Time Pub at 337 High Street in Chestertown. 

For dining reservations call 443-282-0004