Moon Dog Cafe serves up the good stuff

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BELLOWS FALLS — Moon Dog Cafe looks like a Bohemian paradise. Plants are scattered about the store, paintings of nude women adorn the walls, funky chairs are positioned near the window and sayings like "may peace and love be here," are positioned strategically around the store.

Jacki Restmeyer, the owner of the cafe, calls the aesthetic "modern hippie." She says her hippie days are mostly behind her. Now she's doing the daily grind and hardly ever has time to rest as customer after customer wanders into her cafe.

The cafe originally existed in Chester but moved when Restmeyer found a prime location in Bellows Falls. "I sort of just fell in love with this place when I walked in," she said. It was the lights, space and the friendly landlords that won her over.

The cafe also gets twice as much business in Bellows Falls as it did in Chester. Restmeyer said many of her old regulars followed her to Bellows Falls. The new location also offers more visibility for the store, she said.

Before Moon Dog Cafe, Restmeyer owned a flower shop in New York. She wanted to escape the rat race, she said. She'd vacationed in Vermont before and was stunned by the Green Mountain State's bountiful natural beauty.

But selling flowers didn't seem like an easy way to make money in Vermont, she said. Luckily, Restmeyer had other passions.

"I always loved food and cooking," she said. She used to invite people over to her home frequently to cook for them.

She also said opening a cafe seemed like a "safe bet." "Everybody needs a cup of coffee and sandwich," she said.

The mission is simple, she said. "We try to use organic and local [produce] whenever we can," she said, "and we're all just foodies here who love to cook and love to eat." She added that the cafe also stands out for its big portion sizes. Restmeyer creates most of the menu with the help of other cooks.

Her favorite menu items are the salads. "They're so big and colorful and beautiful," she said.

Being in Bellows Falls isn't just great for the increased customer base, Restmeyer said. Before she lived in the village she used to shop there, so she's familiar with all it has to offer. She also said the other business owners have been really supportive of her.

The village really needed another option to have breakfast and lunch, she said. Everyone who's come by, she said, has been really supportive.

Harmony Birch can be reached at hbirch@reformer.com, at @Birchharmony on Twitter and 802-254-2311, Ext. 153.

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