Telegraph Business Ticker

Moon Dog Cafe heads to Bellows Falls

©2018 Telegraph Publishing LLC

The worst kept secret in Chester is finally official. Jacki Restmeyer, owner of the organic restaurant, grocery and shop-filled-with-really-cool-stuff  known as the Moon Dog Cafe, announced Monday via Facebook that she is moving the entire works to Bellows Falls.

Jacki Restmeyer. Photo by Katherine Henry.

The Chester resident has been planning a move since building owners Domenica and Gary Coger told her that they were in talks with the owner of a local business looking to buy the building and expand. Despite numerous attempts, we could not reach the prospective buyer.

The Moon Dog building, at 295 Main St., is home to a number of businesses, including the SongYard play space, a yoga studio, an arts center and a brand new music studio (see item below). A fine homewares shop and a number of jewelers have also occupied several spaces.

Restmeyer, who has owned the Moon Dog for 15 years — more than 12 of them in the Cogers’ building, said she had hoped to stay in Chester and that the Cogers and others in town helped her look for a new local shop. “We wanted to stay in Chester, but there was nothing for us to rent. And we had four options in Bellows Falls,” Restmeyer said on Tuesday.

At one point, Restmeyer said, Town Manager David Pisha called to ask if there was anything the town could do to keep the Moon Dog in town.

The interior of the Moon Dog. Photo by Cynthia Prairie

For their part, the Cogers, who for 18 years or more have been supportive landlords to a slew of small businesses in Chester, wish that they had been able to find a place in Chester for the Moon Dog. “We are all heart broken to lose the Moon Dog,” said Domenica Coger on Tuesday night.

Moon Dog’s last day in Chester will be April 1. Restmeyer hopes to open her new location, at 24 Rockingham St. in the old Vermont Pretzel space, by the end of April.

She says she’ll have to put the entire kitchen into a smaller space than her current digs. But she intends to continue with the same food, products and services that she currently provides.

“I loved my time in Chester … I really felt like the Moon Dog was my home away from home. I’ve made great friends,” she said adding that she and her staff are “a bit sad, but very excited.” — Cynthia Prairie

Fiddler Ida Mae Specker opens music studio

Ida Mae Specker

Ida Mae Specker has taken over a space at the back of the Moon Dog Cafe building, at 295 Main St.,  where she will teach music to individuals and small groups. Her Chester Music Center opened its doors in March.

Hoping to “connect people across genres and generations,”  Specker teaches a range of fiddle classes for all levels. Rounding out the instructor roster are Jesse Peters teaching  guitar and, on Thursdays, celebrated fiddler John Specker, Ida Mae’s father, offers banjo lessons to students with some prior experience.

Specker, a traditional Appalachian fiddler who says string instruments are her passion, believes that the center is a good compliment to what is currently offered to children in local schools and community members. She hopes to expand her lessons to include piano, voice, songwriting and community events.

While the Chester Music Center currently has no regular hours, interested persons can email or call 802-734-7183 for rates and available time slots. — Renee Nied

Hugging Bear Inn gets new innkeepers

Former Chester innkeepers Andy and Linda Papineau have signed on to run the Hugging Bear Inn and Shoppe until early November or until new owners purchase the inn, which is for sale, owner Laura Thomas recently announced.

The Papineaus have owned and run the Chester House and the Stone Hearth Inn & Tavern.

The Hugging Bear,  located at 244 Main St. in Chester, will be closed from April 1 through May 24, when the Papineaus take over the operation of the inn. Reservations are being taken for May 25 through Nov. 4 by calling 802-875-2412 or by visiting — Renee Nied

Jack’s Diner cleared to resume construction

An architect’s drawing of the front of the permitted Jack’s Diner

Jack’s Diner closed for renovation in June 2011 and after years of fits and starts, owner Jacques Dodier has received the conditional use permit that will allow him to finish the project.

In December, the Development Review Board issued its findings.

Dodier received the go-ahead to build and operate a 78-seat restaurant and bar with two three-bedroom apartments on the second floor. The plan also calls for adding a large, wraparound porch to the front of the existing building. According to the permit, the restaurant will have a 68-seat dining room and a 10-seat bar and serve breakfast, lunch and dinner and close at 10 p.m.

In 2011, Jack’s received a construction permit before it had gone through the conditional use permit process. In the meantime, the original diner building has been torn down and replaced with a much larger structure.

Dodier’s application for a conditional use permit in 2011 was denied because he did not respond to the board’s request for drawings and other information. In 2012, the State Fire Marshal issued a stop work order for not supplying drawings and information on the required sprinkler system and Americans with Disabilities Act compliance. More recently, the town of Chester brought an enforcement action against Dodier in environmental court.

With Londonderry attorney Amanda George and several engineers doing most of the talking during DRB hearings last fall, Dodier was able to satisfy the requirements of Chester’s Unified Development Bylaws for the conditional use permit. At those hearings neighbors testified that they hoped Dodier would follow through and finish the project at last.
As Dodier continues to work to address remaining issues, town Zoning Officer Michael Normyle says he remains “cautiously optimistic” that the project will come to fruition. According to the permit, Dodier has two years from Dec. 11, 2017 to have the project “substantially complete.” — Renee Nied & Shawn Cunningham
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Filed Under: Business & Personal FinanceLatest NewsTelegraph Ticker

About the Author:

RSSComments (2)

Leave a Reply | Trackback URL

  1. The state lifted the stop work order in 2013 and work went on for a bit and then stopped again.

  2. John Holme says:

    The article doesn’t say whether Jack’s has complied with the Fire Marshall’s stop work order. How are they cleared to resume construction?