Saturday March 23, 2013

BELLOWS FALLS -- The Rockingham Selectboard on Tuesday approved a five-figure loan for a new restaurant that will replace a former hot dog joint in the village’s downtown area.

Kim Bovill will receive a $30,000 loan from the Rockingham Revolving Loan Fund to jump-start Shona Grill, which will operate out of the same building that housed Fat Franks, an eatery that has been empty at 92 Rockingham St. for several months. "Shona" is the Gaelic word for "sunshine" or "happy," Bovill said Tuesday.

Rockingham Development Director Francis "Dutch" Walsh said Bovill and a co-owner have agreed to an interest rate of 4 percent for a 60-month period. Dutch said the monthly payments will be about $550.

Bovill told the Selectboard she hopes to open the new restaurant in about three weeks. She said she wants to keep a similar menu with affordable items for locals while broadening the list of options.

"I’ve talked to a lot of women who said, ‘I don’t eat that kind of food (hot dogs),’" she said. "But they do like veggie burgers and salads and sometimes might like a nice sweet sausage with onions and peppers or a signature grilled cheese sandwich."

Selectboard member Ann DiBernardo said the location has a history of never being very busy and asked Bovill about her marketing plans.

Bovill said she will utilize social media (such as Facebook) and offer coupons and a card for frequent customers (like Subway sandwich shops do). She also said she has been in contact with the radio station in Keene, N.H.

Bovill used to teach hospitality courses at River Valley Technical Center in Springfield and was a volunteer coordinator at the Bellows Falls Waypoint Center. She said her target audience is people traveling along Interstate 91 and getting off at Exits 5 and 6 for a bite to eat. The restaurant is expected to be open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day of the week.

Walsh said Bovill did exhaustive research on quick-serve restaurants in her business plan.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, Bellows Falls Little League President Jason Terry told the Selectboard the league would like to install a 47-square-foot sand/clay infield a baseball field used for Little League. He said it is expected to look like the diamond on Wells Street. The goal is to get more children to play baseball, Terry said.

The Selectboard seemed to have no qualms with the proposal and Terry said he will meet with the Bellows Falls Village Board of Trustees on Tuesday to discuss the project with its members.

In other business:

-- Selectboard members approved a coin drop sponsored by Cider Magazine for the benefit of the American Cancer Society. Municipal Manager Tim Cullenen said Bellows Falls Police Chief Ron Lake has no concerns with the traffic situation and the department has already offered assistance.

Cider Mag requested a date of April 3 (with April 4 as a rain date) right outside its office.

-- The Selectboard voted to re-appoint Vincent Cherico to the Rockingham Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Adjustment. He was appointed to fill a vacant position.

-- During the public comment portion of the meeting, Walsh unveiled a new historical marker that will be placed at the Rockingham Meeting House. He said the marker that sits there now is turned in such a way that it is difficult for drivers-by to see clearly.

He said the marker was created for free by the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation and a slight re-wording was done by Christy Hotaling, a part-time employee for Rockingham.

-- During his manager’s report, Cullenen said the meeting with Southeastern Vermont Economic Development Strategies (SeVEDS) has been tentatively rescheduled for Monday, April 22.

Domenic Poli can be reached at dpoli@reformer.com; or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow Domenic on Twitter @dpoli_reformer