Sunny
37°
Sunny
Hi 53° | Lo 23°

New Restaurant to Open in Shuttered Fire Stones Location in Quechee

Quechee — River Stones restaurant will be opening during the first week of June at Waterman Place in the old Fire Stones’ location, the co-owner said last week.

The new restaurant will have a fresh look, new furnishings and a menu with an Italian flavor, John G.F. Ruggieri said, adding that efforts were under way last week to fill remaining staff positions and to select an executive chef from a group of finalists.

The opening is contingent on passing final state and local health inspections, but Ruggieri said all the necessary steps have been taken to get the OKs. “We just went through this at Bentleys, and I don’t anticipate any problems with River Stones.”

Ruggieri, a Boston real estate attorney, and Boston restaurateur Maria L. Feddura, own Stonewall Companies, the firm that operates Bentleys in Woodstock, which reopened in April, and River Stones.

“We’ve repainted, put in new carpet and cleaned the place from top to bottom. We’ve put in new bar stools and larger televisions in the bar, and we’re going to have regular live music. It will be a new experience for people,” he said.

“We really pushed to get it ready to open. We may go back next spring and do some more extensive renovations, but we’re just trying to get open now.”

In addition to the renovations, the owners have created a new space adjoining the bar that’s being called Lucia’s Cafe, a room that will serve a menu with lighter fare than the main dining room. River Stones will have 120 seats inside and another 40 on the patio. There also are two rooms that can accommodate special functions.

The menu will be one of the biggest upgrades at the restaurant and will have a greater emphasis on using local produce and local ingredients, Ruggieri said.

“We’ll fill a niche that’s needed in that area,” Ruggieri said. “It’s going to be good food, but not high end, priced so that people can come regularly, a restaurant for the whole community.”

River Stones also will have a large selection of wines and some of the area’s craft beers.

Earlier this year, Stonewall Companies bought the Bentleys and the Fire Stones locations after the original owners, David Creech and Bill Deckelbaum, filed for corporate bankruptcy, brought on by heavy losses from embezzling and by financial mismanagement. The partners opened Bentleys in 1976 and quickly built it into a fixture in Woodstock. In 1987, they followed with Fire Stones, which became a convivial neighborhood watering hole that was not noted for excellent food.

River Stones will be more food-oriented under the direction of the new chef and Feddura, Ruggieri said.

Feddura will oversee the day-to-day operations of River Stones. She has more than 40 years of restaurant experience and owns with her husband, Paul, three The Daily Catch restaurants, all successful eateries in the Boston area, and a wholesale seafood operation.

Ruggieri also said he’s pleased with the reception the new Bentleys has received and how the operation is going since opening April 18.

But the one thing that is missing from the downtown Woodstock restaurant is the carousel lion that used to perch above the door in the cafe area. The lion disappeared when the restaurant was being renovated.

“As sort of a fun thing, we’re putting up wanted posters and offering a reward for the capture and safe return of the lion,” he said. “We’re offering $1,000 dining reward credit for its return.”

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