Woodstock, Quechee Eateries to Reopen

Woodstock — A Boston real estate attorney along with the owner of three Boston restaurants have teamed up to reopen two recently shuttered Upper Valley eateries.

Bentleys in Woodstock will be reopened in keeping with the original restaurant, and the spot that was Fire Stones in Quechee’s Waterman Place now will become River Stones, according to co-owner John G.F. Ruggieri.

The hope is to have both establishments open by early April, Ruggieri said in an email yesterday.

Long-term leases have been signed on both locations, and efforts will be made to rehire managers and staff, who were integral to the old businesses, Ruggieri said, adding that there will be no involvement of the previous owners, David Creech and Bill Deckelbaum, in the ownership or operation of the new restaurants.

The businesses will be operated by the Stonewall Companies, owned by Ruggieri and Maria L. Feddura, who will be in charge of the day-to-day operations. Feddura owns with her husband, Paul, three The Daily Catch restaurants in the Boston area and a wholesale seafood operation. She has been in the food business for more than 40 years. The Fedduras have seven sons, all of whom are involved in the family businesses.

Getting the restaurants open largely depends upon receiving local and state approval for the transfer of the liquor licenses, Ruggieri said.

A hearing on the Quechee license is set for Tuesday before the Hartford selectboard, and the license at Bentleys, which has been approved by the Woodstock Selectboard, is awaiting an OK from Vermont Liquor Control, Ruggieri said in the email.

“I have calls in to the commissioner to press the need for a quick turnaround to get folks back to work. I expect no undue delays, but a minimum of a few weeks time,” he said.

“So, no promises, but Stonewall is hopeful to get both operations newly opened, and employees and business back, in early April.” Ruggieri is a member of the law firm Looney & Grossman in the real estate practice group, focusing on commercial and residential development and sales. He was born in Providence, R.I., and has a degree from Boston University in business management and a law degree from Suffolk University Law School. He lives in Boston, but is a part-time resident in Barnard, where he owns Stonewall Lodge, a luxury three-bedroom renovated log residence available for vacation rentals.

Freddura grew up in Troy, N.Y., where her father owned Mario Theatre Restaurant. While studying architecture in Boston, she met her husband, and in 1973, together they turned his raw bar and fish market into The Daily Catch, a small, popular Sicilian-style seafood and pasta restaurant in Boston’s North End.

In addition to the original site, The Daily Catch also has locations on Boston’s waterfront and in Brookline, Mass.

Creech and Deckelbaum opened Bentleys in 1976, quickly establishing the restaurant at the crossroads of routes 4 and 12 in the center of town as a prominent part of the dining and entertainment scene. The partners opened Fire Stones in Quechee’s Waterman Place in 1987, and it became a convivial watering hole for the neighborhood.

In recent years, the partners took less active roles, and the businesses that were grossing more than $3 million a year allegedly fell victim to embezzling and mismanagement that lead to taxes and bills going unpaid, the partners said earlier this month.

In December, the partners stepped back in to try to turn the operations around, but it was too late, and both restaurants closed on March 3. The operating companies filled for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on March 5. A hearing is scheduled for April 1 in federal court in Rutland.

Warren Johnston can be reached at wjohnston@vnews.com or 603-727-3216.