Side Dishes: Community-oriented cuisine coming at Claire's
They say too many chefs spoil the soup. Does the same go for investors? Using Robert Fuller's Bobcat Café  as a model, four restaurateurs who call themselves the Hardwick Restaurant Group, LLC are seeking backers to supply $1000 each in exchange for that amount of food credit over the next four years. Taking a page from the successful CSA farming movement, the HRG is calling its effort a CSR, short for "community-supported restaurant." The crew plans to open a friendly, neighborhood-oriented eatery named Claire's, after deceased East Hardwick artist Claire Fern.
Claire's was going to open last March. That didn't happen, but Linda Ramsdell, owner of the Galaxy Bookshop  and one of four partners in the restaurant, is convinced that the second time will be the charm. Ramsdell and her three compadres — Mike Bosia, Steven Obranovich and Christina Michelson — are planning their grand opening celebration for Valentine's Day. "We're not thinking of it as the romantic, intimate Valentine's Day fare but as a big community party," relates Ramsdell.
In August, the foursome called a community meeting to report out on their progress — construction on the fire-damaged Bemis Block, where Claire's will be located, should be completed this November. Their other goal: to encourage the community to get involved. After the meeting, 15 attendees were impressed enough to commit a grand each to the CSR effort. As of press time, the group has found 30 of the 50 investors they're hoping for. Additional financing will come from "other sources," Ramsdell says.