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Bottom Line: Ice cream stand, formerly Whippi Dip, gets sweet reception under new name, management

  • From left, Clint Benjamin, of Bradford, Vt., laughs as he talks to Carol Stickney and Marty Vetal, of Fairlee, Vt., at Sweet n' Salty Rae's in Fairlee, Vt., on Thursday, June 10, 2021. Benjamin worked at Whippi Dip before the restaurant closed and said he is glad to be back in the same kitchen. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News / Report For America photographs — Alex Driehaus

  • Sweet n' Salty Rae's in Fairlee, Vt., is open for business on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • John Lippman. Copyright (c) Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Business Writer
Published: 6/12/2021 9:52:16 PM
Modified: 6/12/2021 9:52:16 PM

In a sure sign that the pandemic is receding and sunny days with blue skies and puffy clouds lie ahead, the Route 5 ice cream stand formerly known as Whippi Dip has reopened under new management.

Amanda Rae Hill, of Newbury, Vt., has leased the classic Fairlee destination from owner Crystal Johnson, who had to shut down the Whippi Dip after its lease-purchase agreement fell apart just as the stand was getting ready to open last summer.

Hill, who has renamed the roadside stop Sweet n’ Salty Rae’s, opened June 3, and it was so popular that she quickly ran out of food before the weekend was out, according to posts on the restaurant’s Facebook page.

“More than grateful for all of your support!” Hill posted June 5. “However, the bad news is you ate all the food!”

Hill said she planned to take a few days off to prepare for regular hours beginning June 10 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday through Sunday.

Sweet n’ Salty Rae’s menu includes burgers, poutine, fish and chips, seafood — fried shrimp, scallops, clam strips, haddock — fries and slaw, wraps and street tacos, and, of course, soda floats, milkshakes and ice cream sundaes.

Hill was not available for comment.

Thai restaurant boom

Another Thai restaurant plans to open in the Upper Valley, making it the fifth in the Lebanon-Hanover area and the second whose owners have passed through the kitchens of Pim’s Thai Orchid.

New Thailand Cuisine, operated by chef Ben Woonbamroong, who worked for a couple years at Pim’s Thai Orchid in Lebanon before he said he was let go at the beginning of the pandemic. The new restaurant will be located just a few doors away from Pim’s in Hanover Plaza in the former space of Stone Arch Bakery, which closed in 2017 after the state of New Hampshire denied the renewal of the cafe-bakery’s meals and rooms tax license.

Lebanon will soon have four Thai restaurants: Tuk Tuk Thai Cuisine, which is in Hanover, is renovating the former Dunkin’ outlet on North Main Street in West Lebanon for a second location, and Bangkok Thai Food Express, which formerly operated out of a food truck in the Miracle Mile Plaza, last year moved into the former Ramunto’s pizza space adjacent to the Systems Plus computer store in Lebanon.

Woonbamroong, 48, said he’s not worried the Upper Valley may have hit peak Thai, noting that each of the restaurants has its own particular spin on the cuisine (Tuk Tuk founder and head chef Pranom Nisang also formerly worked at Pim Thai’s Orchid when the restaurant was in Hanover).

“We all do things a little bit different,” he said.

Woonbamroong hopes to have his restaurant open later this summer.

Franchise battery and lighting store switching on in West Lebanon

If 20-something Benjamin Braddock in the 1967 movie The Graduate were to get some unsolicited career advice today, instead of “just one word — plastics,” he might hear a different word:

“Batteries.”

With the market for everything from battery-powered phones to gardening equipment, “smart homes” and cars expected to grow exponentially in coming years, a local battery store could become as ubiquitous as a quick-change oil service bay. And like Jiffy Lube and XPress Lube, many of them will be franchises.

At least that’s Will Moore’s hope.

Moore, of Londonderry, N.H., is getting ready to open the Upper Valley’s first Batteries Plus Bulbs store in the former West Lebanon post office building on North Main Street.

Batteries Plus Bulbs “has identified certain markets that are good opportunities, and New Hampshire and Lebanon was the next step they had available,” Moore said. “It just seemed to me evidence that this was a good business to be in.”

The building has been vacant since it was briefly occupied by payday loan provider Title Cash before it closed more than three years ago.

The pandemic pushed back the planned opening by more than six months to early-to-mid July, said Moore, who also has been granted a Batteries Plus Bulbs franchise in Burlington.

Moore, who has worked in a variety of businesses from retail to food service, said he’s been watching the multiplication of Batteries Plus Bulbs stores in New Hampshire, and figured he wanted in.

The Wisconsin-based retail chain now has 720 stores, including six locations in New Hampshire and the expansion into Vermont.

Contact John Lippman at jlippman@vnews.com.




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