MADAWASKA, Maine – For the first time since its opening in June of 2013, the Inn of Acadia, with the help of a familiar local chef, will treat Voyageur Lounge patrons to a full service, unique dining experience.
Executive Chef Samantha Berry, former owner of Custom Cake Café in Fort Kent, will join the staff at Inn of Acadia in Madawaska to take over operations at the Voyageur Lounge and to implement lunch and dinner dining beginning Friday, May 2.
The award-winning Inn of Acadia opened as an inn and lounge last summer after completion of a two-year renovation project of the historical Wisdom House in Madawaska.
“It’s been an amazing first year. We’re having fun and meeting new people, and we’re so fortunate to have such a great staff and community to support us,” said Inn of Acadia owner Jonathan Roy.
Voyageur Lounge, located on the third floor of the building, offers spectacular views of surrounding Madawaska and Edmundston, New Brunswick. Roy says adding dining services was always part of the original plan for the Inn.
“We knew we would be adding a menu all along, we were just unsure when we would pursue dining services and what that all would look like,” he said. “We were waiting for the right time and the right group of individuals to oversee the dining operations.
The right time presented itself in early 2014 when Berry announced the closing of her Fort Kent restaurant and Roy contacted her with a proposition.
“I had frequented the Custom Cake in Fort Kent several times and became a fan of the food over there. It was always an enjoyable experience. Sam and I share a lot of the same ideas and have developed a working relationship that revolves around a commitment to offer quality food, an enjoyable environment and customer service. We both share the desire to offer a unique menu in a relaxing and enjoyable environment,” said Roy.
The Voyageur Lounge will be open for lunch and dinner dining Wednesdays through Saturdays and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sundays for brunch. The lounge has a liquor license and offers an impressive selection of beers and wines and will now provide a limited late night menu on Fridays and Saturdays for patrons who stop by to enjoy the Lounge’s live music and upscale decor.
“Our patrons can expect the best quality food with excellent service at a price that everyone can afford,” said Berry. “We have items as low as $7 and no higher than $25.”
In addition to bringing along some of her former staff to work with her at the Voyageur Lounge, Berry will bring some fan favorites from her Custom Cake menu. There will be a little something for everyone. She will offer her famous prime rib nightly, along with her well-known specialty sandwiches and salads, and everything from nachos and pizza, to seafood, steaks, and even lamb. To keep the menu fresh, Berry will offer seasonal items that will feature local foods based on availability.
“People will really enjoy the exceptional experience of the Voyageur Lounge’s atmosphere, food and service,” says Berry.
Berry was attracted to the hustle and bustle of the restaurant business from a young age. As a child, the some of the only time she could spend with her busy chef grandfather was to sit with him in the kitchen helping him to prepare for catering events. She started working in restaurants at age 14, and, over time, has done just about every job from dishwashing and making ice-cream, to bartending, waitressing.
She found her truest calling in the kitchen, however, working her way up from grill and line cook, to progressively more complex jobs and even into management positions. Cooking and baking was something Berry really enjoyed. She says it’s a sort of therapy – a means of relaxation – whether she is cooking for just herself or for friends and family.
“At the times I’m most stressed out, I always end up wandering into my kitchen and cooking to clear my head.”
When she came to the St. John Valley, she noticed a need for a more adventurous restaurant in the region. People found out she made cakes and before long, the demand for the service had blossomed into something so big, she decided to use it as an opportunity to create Custom Cake Café, where she would tap into her extensive background in food preparation to offer fine dining in addition to her baking.
“I never imagined how popular my food would become,” she said. Soon, the food portion of the café overtook the baking side of what she offered. “I guess the community realized they wanted something different as well.”
Berry’s location became a problem as the building where she had her café lacked proper design to handle the stresses of a popular restaurant bursting at the seams.
“I finally came to the realization that it would never become what I envisioned,” said Berry, who made the difficult decision to close her restaurant earlier this year.
Her original plan was to return to making cakes and catering out of her home, but all that changed on her last day open for business at the café when Roy contacted her.
“The prospect of still doing what I loved in a region where I had wanted to build my cafe was incredible. I realized that I didn’t have to own my own establishment. I just wanted to be doing what I loved and to provide the Valley with something like they have never experienced,” said Berry.
The Inn of Acadia originally opened with 17 rooms. With construction now complete, the Inn has 21 unique rooms available to business and leisure travelers who are visiting the St. John Valley. With the addition of dining services, the Inn adds another amenity to its already extraordinary lodging experience. Roy is eager for this addition and is certain the venture will be an exciting addition to the St. John Valley.
“The Voyageur Lounge will certainly provide our guests and the community with a unique menu that has a little bit of something for everybody. I’m sure that folks will be pleased with the presentation of our meals (thanks to Chef Samantha and her team) as well as the environment that our lounge has to offer,” he said.
For additional information about the Inn of Acadia and Voyageur Lounge, call (207) 728-3402, visit them on the web at InnofAcadia.com, or ‘Like’ them on Facebook at Facebook.com/Inn.of.Acadia.
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