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Bottom Line: Deal between Upper Valley restaurant families keeps a namesake eatery alive

Valley News Business Writer
Published: 9/25/2021 9:41:35 PM
Modified: 9/25/2021 9:41:35 PM

A friendship extending back decades between two Upper Valley restaurant families has led to one family carrying on the tradition of the other family’s popular family restaurant.

Maria Limon and Nick Yager, the husband-and-wife team behind Gusanoz Mexican Restaurant in Lebanon, are acquiring Mickey’s Roadside Cafe in Enfield from husband-and-wife owners Darby and Mickey Dowd, they told me in a recent interview.

“I’m getting to the age when I just want to retire,” explained Dowd, 67, who has had his namesake restaurant and tavern at the intersection of Route 4 and Baltic Street for 17 years. Dowd is also the former owner of Dowd’s Country Inn and Lyme Inn in Lyme, and his family were the longtime owners of Everything But Anchovies in Hanover, which closed in 2017.

Yager first got to know Dowd, a Hanover High School alum, when he worked at EBAs — as the Allen Street eatery was popularly called — before joining the Army and returning to the Upper Valley and opening Gusanoz with Limon in 2005.

In the following years, they frequently ran into each other, whether at the store or in a professional capacity, Yager said, and shared the same vendors.

So it was only natural that when Dowd decided to retire, he turned to a restaurateur in whom he could entrust a family legacy. Yager said Dowd and his brother Charlie Dowd invited him and Limon to dinner at Robert Meyers’ Three Tomatoes Trattoria in Lebanon — neutral territory — where they discussed the idea of Yager and Limon buying the Enfield restaurant and building.

“(Dowd) was looking to find someone who would take good care of his people,” Yager said. “Our intention is to honor the tradition they have at Mickey’s.”

The parties executed a sale-and-purchase agreement, and the deal is slated to close in October, they said. Financial terms were not disclosed.

“The timing was good for Nick, and it was good for me,” Dowd said about selling the business.

Yager said the restaurant will continue to be called Mickey’s, and the tavern-style menu is expected to remain largely the same, “although we may pare it down a little bit.”

“We’ve gotten to know the people who work at Mickey’s, and there is a lot of talent there,” Yager said.

For Yager and Limon — Yager calls his wife “the brains behind the food” — the restaurant business is also a family business.

Their daughter Isabella Yager is manager at Gusanoz and their other daughter, Alex Azua, is head of marketing. Alex’s husband, Juan Azua, is the general manager of Gusanoz, and Isabella’s fiance, Mike Kelsall, is going to be working at Mickey’s.

Limon and Yager’s son, Eddie Moran, who operated the food trailer Taco’s Tacos, which had a large fan following in the Upper Valley, opened Lalo’s Taqueria last fall in the former Lebanon Diner space on the Lebanon Mall.

And all three of Limon and Yager’s adult children live in Enfield, which Yager said is increasingly becoming the go-to community for young families as they are priced out of Hanover. That bodes well for the future of Mickey’s, Yager believes.

“With all these young families moving to Enfield, we want to make sure we are appealing to them as well,” he said.

Dunkin’ poppin’ up at Lebanon’s Miracle Mile

Caffeine and sugar addicts impatient with waiting in line at the busy Dunkin’ outlet in West Lebanon will soon have an alternative: a new Dunkin’ to be built in the parking lot of Miracle Mile Plaza in Lebanon.

Henniker, N.H.-based Sagris Enterprises, which owns the West Lebanon Dunkin’, has broken ground finally on a new Dunkin’ — as the former Dunkin’ Donuts chain now calls itself since it dropped “Donuts” from its name — at the Lebanon shopping plaza.

“Weather (and any other unforeseen issues) pending, my goal is to have the restaurant open in early December of this year,” Sagris Enterprises owner Greg Sagris said via email.

Sagris noted that the Miracle Mile Dunkin’ will be “primarily a drive-thru-focused concept” with “a small walk-in area to service employees of the plaza and its surrounding businesses and those waiting at the bus stop or utilizing the rail trail, but it will not be your typical Dunkin’ with indoor seats or a lobby.”

Construction cost of the new Dunkin’ is pegged at $450,000, according to permitting records at the city of Lebanon planning office.

The past year has been a busy one for Sagris, who owns 11 Dunkin’ franchises in New Hampshire, including two in Enfield, and one in Grantham and one inside the Walmart in West Lebanon.

He closed his Dunkin’ outlet on Main Street in West Lebanon last summer — the location is soon to become the second Tuk Tuk Thai restaurant — and in June he unveiled a more than $250,000 remodeling of the Dunkin’ on Route 12A in West Lebanon.

Victory Lanes in Woodsville for sale

Five years ago Nate Swain, then a recent graduate from Paul Smith’s College with a culinary arts degree, reopened the historic candlepin bowling alley and restaurant Victory Lanes in Woodsville.

It’s located in a barn-like former dance hall and movie theater on Route 302, across the Connecticut River from Wells River, Vt., and Swain saw reviving the 109-year old pub with six candlepin lanes as an opportunity to bring back a needed night life spot between Bradford, Vt., and St. Johnsbury.

But Room 111 at Victory Lanes — as Swain renamed the place — did not survive the pandemic that wiped out many restaurants. He announced last summer on the business’s Facebook page that “the state-ordered closure of our business due to COVID-19 was simply too much for us to survive.”

Now the Victory Lanes building and business is up for sale with an asking price of $260,000, according to online real estate listings.

“A great opportunity to buy a popular 6 lane bowling alley with a fully set up bar and kitchen … this is a wonderful chance to buy into a fun business with lots of growth potential at a deep discount,” the listing promises.

Interested buyers can contact Peter Nightingale at KW Lakes and Mountains Realty in Meredith, N.H., for more information.

Contact John Lippman at jlippman@vnews.com.




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