Whitehall’s newest restaurant is a family affair.
For the past five months, Dave and Roxanne Waters, and their three sons, Dylan and Grant Burns and Matt Waters, have been transforming one of Whitehall’s most popular eateries, The Roma, into Lucia’s, an Italian-American restaurant.
“This is a family venture. You shouldn’t be surprised to see any of us bartending, serving our customers, or helping out in the kitchen. We’re going to be very hands-on,” Roxanne said.
The Roma, which was a landmark in the community for years and attracted dinners from as far away as Rutland, Vt. closed last fall, and Dave Waters purchased the building thereafter.
“Dave had been toying with the idea for a year or so, but we didn’t get serious until our sons brought up the idea and got involved. So we formulated a plan and it just kind of snowballed from there,” Roxanne Waters said.
Last Wednesday each member of the family was busy as they continued to prepare the restaurant to open next month.
Roxanne, who is the branch manager at Berkshire Bank, was sitting at a table in the dining room reviewing a small mountain of paperwork. Matt and Dylan were running around with tape measures in hand trying to figure out how everything was going to fit in the kitchen while Dave and Grant discussed business with a beverage distributor.
All five work full-time jobs and have been spending nearly every evening the last few months working on the interior of the building.
“There was a lot of work that had to be done,” Matt Waters said.
Roxanne said they had expected to open earlier but they didn’t anticipate the volume of work that needed to be completed.
“There were a few more hurdles than we expected because it’s an old building,” she said.
The kitchen was gutted and the family put in a new ceiling and wall in the prep area, and have replaced most of the appliances.
The floors, which Roxanne proudly points out are the same as inside Grand Central Station, have been stripped and redone. All the walls and booths have been given a fresh coat of paint and decorated with vines and grapes, lending the interior of the restaurant a more Italian feel.
The banquet area has been enlarged and the floors refurbished and the family plans to use it as an event space for showers, rehearsals, birthday parties and even reunions.
The lounge area has undergone a complete renovation. No longer can you see inside the kitchen. The opening has been closed off and replaced with tongue and groove pine and there are a number of tables that triple the capacity of the room for patrons who are more interested in watching a game and having some pub fare.
“We done a lot of work ourselves and what we couldn’t do we hired local people to do,” Roxanne said. “We’ve poured lots of blood, sweat, and tears into this.”
About 20 people will staff the restaurant and the menu will be a more streamlined version of what The Roma featured.
Danielle Ingerson and Mark Rees, who formerly worked at the Barn Restaurant in West Pawlet, Vt. have been brought in as chefs and have already begun g fine tuning some of the recipes.
Some of the items are authentic Italian recipes created by Lucy Leonbruno Waters, Dave’s mother and the inspiration for the restaurant’s name.
There will be daily specials, including prime rib and a wing night, and takeout will be available.
The eatery will have a soft opening, likely sometime next month, and will open at 11 a.m. Wednesdays through Mondays.
A neighboring business, Country Moose, operated by Roxanne’s sister and open exclusively on weekends, will also expand its hours once the restaurant opens.
“People in the surrounding towns have been very supportive. It’s been wonderful,” Roxanne said. “We’re really excited. We can’t wait to get open.”