SAXTONS RIVER -- The mornings in Saxtons River have been a little quiet since the Golden Egg Restaurant closed almost two years ago.
The popular breakfast and lunch spot gave village residents a place to gather over coffee and omelets, but after the Golden Egg closed, there has not been a spot to meet in the morning over a hot meal in Saxtons River.
"A group of us in the village wanted something there," said Jane Macri, a Saxtons River resident who helped open Dish on Main, the new restaurant in the old Tenney's Lumber building in Saxtons River. "We got together and started talking and this is what evolved."
Macri, and seven other village residents, have formed a non-profit organization to bring the old restaurant back to life.
Dish on Main opened just after Christmas.
The restaurant is being run by a board of directors who hired the staff and is overseeing the business.
The board is made up of residents from Saxtons River who have worked in food service, business and public relations, though the staff members who run the restaurant are employees, and not members of the non-profit organization.
Macri and her husband own the property, and over the past year the momentum has been building to try to figure out a way to get an eating establishment back in.
The group that formed did not do much research to see if other business models like this have succeeded.
They came up with the non-profit plan and
Most of the restaurant was still intact from when the Golden Egg was there, and when the interior was cleaned and walls painted, they put up a sign and opened the doors.
Business has been brisk ever since.
The restaurant opened with little advertising on the Tuesday after Christmas.
About 60 people showed up on the very first day, and on New Year's Day, they served about 160 meals.
"It's been very busy. People really seem to be enjoying this," said Macri.
George Kendall, who is the chef and manager, has a long history of working in restaurants.
This weekend, while taking a break from a busy breakfast, Kendall said the crowds that have been showing up are proof that the village was ready to support the restaurant.
"There has been something missing here ever since the last restaurant closed," he said. "Saxtons River needed this boost and Saxtons River seems willing to make this work."
The Dish on Main board of directors has developed a unique business model, with the motivation seemingly to be to simply have a place in Saxtons River for residents and visitors to share a cup of coffee and plate of eggs while meeting with neighbors.
It is not like the Putney General Store, where a nonprofit, The Putney Historical Society in this case, is leasing its space to a business owner.
Nor is it an employee-owned company, like Chroma Technology, where each of the employees has a stake in the day-to-day operations.
Macri said the board came upon the idea organically.
The group of eight Saxtons River residents wanted a restaurant in their community.
None of them really wanted to work there.
So they formed the organization, cleaned up the space and moved ahead.
"The idea evolved as we all started talking about this," Macri said. "We all wanted a restaurant, but none of us really wanted to run a business."
At first, the board met once a week, but Macri said the restaurant seems to be running itself now and the board is meeting less frequently.
But beyond serving good coffee and muffins, Macri has big plans for the restaurant.
She sees it as a way to bring business to Saxtons River, and as a vehicle to provide jobs to some people in the village.
In the future, she said, if there are profits, the board plans to donate money to area social service groups that are always in need.
The restaurant is also trying to establish itself as place where adults with disabilities can go to work and get out into the community.
Joan Campbell, who works in special education at Springfield Middle School, and is also a board member, said the plan to work with disable adults has been an important part of the nonprofit's mission from the start, though the board is still setting up the system.
Campbell has been talking to area agencies and she wants people with disabilities to feel welcome and have a place to receive training.
"The idea is still evolving," she said. "Our road map is wide open and our rule book is empty."
But the most important thing, according to Macri, is that now there is a place to meet a friend, order a plate of food and share a meal.
That is the idea that drove the plan from the beginning.
"When the Golden Egg closed, everyone really missed having a restaurant here in Saxtons River," said Macri. "One of our board members said we could do this, and so we did. It seemed like the right way to go."
The Dish on Main is open from Tuesday through Sunday, from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-254-2311, ext. 279.