WILMINGTON -- As John and Patty Sprague, owners of Dot's Restaurant, prepare the next steps for rebuilding their diner, they spent the weekend in the company of people from across the country who love their food, especially the chili.
On Saturday more than 300 people attended a benefit concert at Memorial Hall featuring two bands, Jon Pousette-Dart and Aztec Two Step, to help raise more than $20,000 toward rebuilding Dot's.
The night began at the home of the president of the Wilmington Fund, Dan Killmurray and his wife Tamara Killmurray, who organized the concert and fundraiser dinner. The pre-show dinner with the artists allowed more than 100 people to gather together to eat, drink and share stories of the beloved Wilmington diner.
"It feels really good to be part of a community that constantly supports one another, " Dan said. "This is a phenomenal cause. There would be a huge void in the valley if Dot's wasn't rebuilt."
According to John, the initial estimate to put Dot's back together was about $600,000, but that was before they found out how much foundation work will be needed to raise the building up about two feet.
The cost is now at more than $800,000, but between John, Patty, members of the Wilmington Fund, the Vermont Preservation Trust and the thousands of people that have donated time and money, the diner will return.
"It's almost overwhelming," John said. "Seeing all these people that love Dot's willing
After moving to the Deerfield Valley several years ago, Dan and Tamara said Dover and Wilmington became a second home for them, a place where they want their children to know and love as much as they do.
"This isn't just a place where we go to vacation, it's a home where everyone knows everyone else," Tamara said. "We both wanted our kids to live in a small town where people genuinely cared for one another."
Patty said they're still on track to reopen sometime in late November and will start construction on Tuesday when massive cranes will lift the building off the damaged foundation and move it to an adjacent parking lot.
"We're really excited for Tuesday," she said. "This whole thing has been surreal."
One of the artists that played at Memorial Hall on Saturday, Pousette-Dart, said he had seen the devastation that Tropical Storm Irene had caused and when he was asked by some friends to play a benefit show, the choice was easy.
"It's pretty mind-boggling what I saw and it's amazing to see how far they've come as a town since," he said. "My goal was to help the town because I knew how tough things have been up here."
During the silent auction, Carol Goodman placed the winning bid for a lithograph of Dot's which she plans to give as a gift.
"I'd been there a couple of times and just love the pancakes," said Goodman, who traveled all the way from St. Louis to attend the event. "We've come up here often to visit friends and family and fell in love with this place, so when we saw what the storm had done we wanted to do something to help out."
Josh Stilts can be reached at email@example.com, or 802-254-2311 ext. 273.