BELLOWS FALLS -- Kim Bovill spent a lot of time volunteering when her teaching job at the River Valley Technical Center was eliminated due to budget cuts last year.
The former educator of hospitality and recreation gave a great deal of her time to the Bellows Falls Waypoint Center, which serves as an inanimate local travel agent and offers information about area eateries and retail shops. One day she was walking through the village and strolled past the building that once housed Fat Franks, which billed itself as "The Wurst Place in Bellows Falls."
"I walked by and said, ‘Well, I just taught kids how to do this the last 11 years, why don't I write myself up a business plan and do this myself?'" she said Monday. That idea has since evolved into her brand-new business, Shona Grill, which opened at 92 Rockingham St. on Thursday.
Bovill explained "Shona" is the Irish word for "happy" and she aims to satisfy customers with a menu that is simple, yet sophisticated. Patrons can order a meal as purely American as a hot dog or cheeseburger or try something a little more elegant, such as andouille sausage with rice or grilled portabella with pesto. The new restaurant is open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week and the public seems to have embraced it so far.
"Things have been going really well, very smoothly," she said, lightly tapping her knuckles on the wooden counter while her chef, who wished not to have her name appear in the newspaper, worked in the kitchen.
The eatery was made possible by a $30,000 loan from the Rockingham Revolving Loan Fund. The loan was recommended by the revolving loan committee and approved by the Rockingham Selectboard at its meeting on Tuesday, March 19.
Rockingham Development Director Francis "Dutch" Walsh told the Selectboard that Bovill did extensive research for her business plan and he thought the new eatery was a great idea. He said at the meeting that Bovill agreed to an interest rate of 4 percent for a 60-month period and the monthly payments will be about $550. Bovill told the Reformer she has already made her first loan payment.
Walsh said Monday that Bovill did quite a bit of marketing research for the type of food service she is providing and said she was the perfect candidate for a revolving loan. He said the tremendous amount of information" Bovill did is "the type of thing that ends guess work."
The Rockingham Revolving Loan Fund, which helps people get their small businesses off the ground and replenishes itself with the interest it charges, has been in existence for about 20 years, Walsh said.
Bovill, who has a degree in hotel and restaurant management from Massasoit Community College in Massachusetts, said Walsh was a big help and she intends to use her business plan "as my Bible."
She said Shona Grill fits in a niche that was going unfilled in the town of Rockingham, noting there was already Popolo and Leslie's for fine dining and a variety of pizza and Chinese restaurants to choose from.
Shona Grill has a Facebook page with additional information.
Domenic Poli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.