PITTSFIELD, Maine — There’s a new owner at the restaurant on Main Street in Pittsfield, and he’s bringing 39 years of restaurant and dining experience with him.
Allen Brown hopes to open Nick’s Whistle Stop by Monday, Dec. 21. He said he named the restaurant after one of his grandsons and the train that runs through downtown Pittsfield daily.
Brown already owns The Village Square Restaurant in Corinna and Noah’s Landing in Dexter. He said that experience, including 30 years in food distribution, would serve him well at the Pittsfield location.
“I don’t mind working seven days a week,” he said. “I really don’t consider this work. I love people.”
The new venture should create about 20 jobs, Brown said, and at least 90 percent of his crew has already been hired. “We have some very good cooks, very good, and some experienced wait staff,” he said.
For the past two weeks, Brown has been renovating the Pittsfield space, formerly known as Hocus Pocus, by repainting, repairing floors, and reupholstering booths and chairs. But Brown said he would retain the family atmosphere that had made the eatery a popular spot in past years.
Vintage photographs of historical Pittsfield spots will go back up on the walls, and new colors will be nearly the same as the maroon and white of the former restaurant.
“We’re going to have family fare,” he said. “Everything will be made from scratch. We will be baking our own bread and making our own pastries.”
The restaurant abruptly closed in the summer of 2007 when former owner K.C. Comfort left Pittsfield and the property was foreclosed by a New Hampshire mortgage company. It was offered at auction earlier this year. Brown said he had made an offer before the auction, but it was rejected. He was the only bidder at the auction, but that offer also was turned down.
Because food was left on shelves and in refrigerators and freezers, a major cleanup of the property was accomplished earlier this fall, paid for by the mortgage holder.
In October, Brown approached the mortgage company again, and this time the sale progressed quickly, he said.
“My accountant said to me ‘Allen, don’t you know we are in a recession?’” Brown recalled with a laugh. “But I believe Pittsfield is a great town with great possibilities.”
Nick’s Whistle Stop will be open from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday, and until 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. Along with the sit-down menu, Brown said sandwiches, salads and other hot prepared foods will be available for takeout at lunch. He expects that many businesspeople and students in the area will take advantage of that service.
Brown said he will not serve alcohol at the restaurant and will open the downstairs area, which was formerly a bar, for meeting space and banquets. “But my coffee is going to be the best in central Maine,” he bragged. “And we will have booklets and games on the tables for kids. This will be a very family-friendly place.”