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Virginia couple reviving East Thetford cafe

Valley News Business Writer
Published: 6/12/2021 9:49:16 PM
Modified: 6/12/2021 9:49:16 PM

EAST THETFORD — They liked the pie so much, they bought the whole restaurant.

Janet and Tom Call, a Virginia couple and part-time Lake Fairlee residents who often were lunchtime customers at Isabell’s Cafe, have purchased the Route 5 property from Bev and Don Hodgdon, who ran the breakfast and lunch place known for Don’s home-baked fruit pies before retiring and closing the diner last summer.

The Calls plan to reopen the restaurant, which will be renamed Red Clover Cafe & Creamery, to serve ice cream from a takeout window in August before introducing a breakfast and lunch menu next spring, Janet Call said in an interview on Wednesday.

“We noticed that whenever we visited Isabell’s there was a sense of community that was special,” Call said. “And we really want to build on that and what Bev and Don have done. It’s not only about the food but about people being together and enjoying the moment with each other.”

The sales price was not disclosed, but the 2.8-acre property with an attached apartment was listed with an asking price of $425,000 by Lang McLaughry Commercial Real Estate.

Bev Hodgdon, who ran Isabell’s for 17 years, said the Calls had been regular customers since they bought a home in the area several years ago, and she couldn’t be more satisfied by the new owners.

“We’re really happy,” Hodgdon said. “They’re talking about a little place for ice cream outside. We are very grateful they bought it and have a plan with what they want to do.”

The Calls, who retired from managing a free health care clinic in Stanardsville, Va. — she as the founder, nurse practitioner and executive director and he as the medical director and cardiologist — plan to continue with sandwiches like the BLT and grilled cheese that were a favorite staples on the Hodgdons’ menu but also add more “plant-based” items and locally sourced ingredients, all with a focus on freshness and health.

They also plan to refurbish the interior but, given the difficulty in securing building materials and contractors, Janet Call said she doesn’t expect to be open for indoor table service until next spring.

So for now the Calls will begin by serving hard ice cream, a treat that should appeal to the throng of summer residents and campers around Lake Fairlee and Lake Morey.

Call said she is seeking out a Vermont-based ice cream supplier but hasn’t decided upon one yet.

Although both Calls had careers in health care, Janet Call said they also have longtime experience in hospitality. She said their side ventures have included an ice cream truck, a restaurant and “a bed-and-breakfast with a commercial kitchen where we did weddings.”

Moreover, Call said her healthcare management background will actually come in handy with reopening the former Isabell’s Cafe and giving it a new identity.

“I was an executive director organizing free clinics,” Call said. “I’m used to putting things together.”

Contact John Lippman at

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