JONESBORO – Two local siblings whose family name is already well known in the restaurant business Down East are developing a fine dining lodge that they hope to open by the end of the month.
Darren Prout of Jonesboro and his sister Bethany Foss of Marshfield are part of the Prout family that has owned the Blue Bird Ranch Family Restaurant in Machias since 1994.
In August they purchased a 1750s farmhouse along U.S. Route 1 which they are transforming into the Chandler River Lodge.
“We are making progress on the building, and as soon as we get our state licenses, we will be open,” Prout said Wednesday.
The siblings have been looking for the right property for two years to open an exclusive restaurant where dinner may cost as much as $60 per person. It will be open in evenings by reservation only.
The restaurant will have seating for as many as 40. It will accommodate private parties and even corporate events around the holidays.
A newly seeded side lawn will serve as a venue for weddings in spring and summer, and the lodge’s five bedrooms upstairs can handle a wedding party for a weekend.
“Tourists coming through are ready to pay that much for dinner,” Prout said. “They can spend a relaxed couple of hours, if not eating, then in our library with a fireplace.”
Six years ago the building housed the Chandler River Lodge Bed and Breakfast, which operated only in July and August. The home has been in private hands the last several years, and the owners died last winter.
Prout and Foss bought the property seven days after it came on the market last July.
“When this came up, it presented a lot of opportunities,” Prout said.
Prout had the contractor, Lou Corbett of Machias, working on the place the Monday after the closing.
“It was structurally in excellent condition,” Prout said. “It took very minimal work for a place that is 250 years old.”
Foss has been researching the history of the house. She found someone who worked there 40 or 50 years ago. Many others in town can remember playing on the lodge’s lawn as children.
Although located on Route 1, the restaurant has a long driveway as an approach.
Once open, the restaurant will employ one chef, two prep cooks and two or three waitstaff. The menu will feature five entrees an evening plus a wine list.
The house dressing will be the blueberry vinaigrette that Foss, who manages the Blue Bird, makes and sells at the Machias restaurant.
Already Prout and Foss have heard from potential customers from as far away as Bangor and Bar Harbor.
“Quite a few people are congratulating us on it,” he said. “They can’t wait to see it open.”