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After More Than Six Decades, Beverage King Has New Owners



Valley News Business Writer
Sunday, August 12, 2018

West Lebanon — After 63 years, the Heath family’s rein at The Beverage King has drawn to a close.

Husband and wife Rich and Sally Houle and Sally’s mother, Irene Heath, have sold their landmark West Lebanon beer, soda and tobacco store to brothers Victor and Jay Patel, owners, respectively, of convenience stores in Dover, N.H., and Wakefield, Mass.

Sally Houle is the daughter of the late Earl (Boze) Heath Jr., who opened Beverage King on Church Street just off the green in Lebanon in 1955 and in the 1970s moved the store to what is now Upper Valley Plaza before relocating the store again in the 1980s across Route 12A to what was a former paint store on Interchange Drive.

Rich Houle said the sale of the longtime business was precipitated by his and Sally’s move to Dixon, Mo., three years ago, where they run a gymnastics studio and started a blueberry farm.

“We’ve had a general manager who has done a great job but it just got harder and harder for us to run the business from Missouri,” Rich Houle explained.

The general manager, Josh Higgins, has been with the store for more than seven years and along with the four employees are expected to stay on under the new owners, Houle said.

Victor and Jay Patel could not be reached for comment.

The Beverage King stocks more than 500 different kinds of beer — Houle won’t admit to a favorite but says he enjoys IPAs in the summer and porters and stouts in the winter. At one time the family’s Beverage King empire spanned four towns with stores in Hanover, White River Junction and Claremont before paring back to the single West Lebanon location.

Victor Patel and his wife, Asha Patel, own Downtown Discount Beverage in Dover, N.H., and Jay Patel owns a convenience store in Wakefield, Mass., Asha Patel said.

The sale of the Beverage King was preceded in June by the Houles’ sale of the adjoining lot and building to Alliance Mechanical, an Essex Junction, Vt., HVAC company, which is expanding from its current Upper Valley location at 1 Commercial Drive across from Four Aces Diner.

Jason Patnaude, owner of Alliance Mechanical, said via email that the HVAC company has “more than doubled in size” since it opened its southern region office six years ago and has “outgrown the Commercial Avenue location.”

“The community has been great to us,” he said, adding that he expects the bigger space located in the heart of West Lebanon’s commercial strip will allow Alliance Mechanical to “double again” in growth.

Both of the Houles’ property sales were handled by commercial broker Jim Ward of Equity Group Realtors.

News items of interest to the local business community are published in the Business & Money section of the Sunday Valley News. Please end submissions to: biznotes@vnews.com (high-resolution photographs may be attached in .jpg format). Items are edited for clarity and space.