WATERVILLE — Five Guys Burgers and Fries, a chain with more than 1,000 restaurants in the U.S. and Canada, plans to open in Waterville, according to a representative of Third Emp Holdings, Inc., the company that has the rights to franchise the restaurant in Maine.

The restaurant is one of several businesses that are opening or moving in downtown Waterville. Others include a pet-oriented business, a bridal shop and a catering service.

Founded by Jerry Murrell and his family in 1986 in Arlington County, Va., Five Guys serves only hamburgers with an assortment of toppings, french fries, hot dogs and sandwiches made of the burger toppings. Most of the company’s restaurants also feature free peanuts in the shell.

Peter Archer, an employee of Third Emp Holdings Inc., of Beverly, Mass., confirmed a Five Guys restaurant will open in Waterville, but said he did not know the location. A representative of The Dunham Group, a Portland company marketing the vacant former Friendly’s restaurant building at 373 Main St., said the firm could not confirm that Five Guys plans to occupy that location. The building is owned by Sanderson Development LLC, of Waterville.

A call Wednesday to the Five Guys corporate office in Lorton, Va., was not returned immediately. Waterville Code Enforcement Officer Garth Collins said he has not received a request for a building permit from Five Guys.

The restaurant chain already has locations in Bangor, Portland, South Portland and Brunswick. Individual stores in the chain post the name of the farm where the potatoes used to make french fries are grown. When the company expanded to Maine, several elected officials, including U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King, asked the franchisee to use Maine potatoes. The store owner responded that the choice of potatoes was a corporate decision.

The chain was founded in 1986 in Washington, D.C., from which it expanded to nearby states. It began franchising in 2003. The chain now has more than 1,000 locations.

The Five Guys move to Waterville represents just one of several business changes in the city.

The former Earth Bound clothing store at 109 Main St. downtown was hopping Wednesday as workers painted and prepared the space for another business scheduled to move in later this month — The Loyal Biscuit Co.

Loyal Biscuit, which sells natural nutrition supplies for cats and dogs and offers self-serve dog grooming, opened six months ago in the former Al Corey Music Center at 99 Main St., two doors down. Then owners Heidi and Joel Neal found a more user-friendly space in the former clothing boutique, which has more parking and a front and back entrance.

“The really great thing about this space is we have parking out back and an accessible entrance there,” Heidi Neal said Wednesday as she worked to ready the former Earth Bound space for her business.

The Neals plan to move from one storefront to the other — from the south to the north side of Jorgensen’s Cafe — the weekend of Feb. 28 without ever having to close.

“I’m actually very happy with how much progress we’ve made already,” Heidi Neal said. “We got the whole carpet ripped up yesterday, removed the changing rooms, put in a false wall and opened up the area for dog grooming.”

While the new space is 2,300 square feet — a little smaller than the current store — it is still the largest of the couple’s four stores. They also own stores in Belfast, Rockland and Camden.

“We’re still very happy to be part of Main Street Waterville,” Heidi Neal said.

Meanwhile, La Belle Bridal Boutique, a new business that sells dresses and accessories for brides, bridesmaids and other members of wedding parties, recently opened at 48 Main St. in the former Democratic Party headquarters.

Also, Rita’s Catering & Event Center, which caters special events, opened at 220 Main St. in the former Flo’s Flower Cart, which moved to Elm Street.

Rita’s offers sit-down meals for up to 125 people, as well as social events for up to 270 people who partake of appetizers at food stations.

“It’s especially encouraging to see businesses moving in, particularly during the first quarter of the year,” said Kimberly Lindlof, president and chief executive officer of the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce. “Coupled with the surge that Mid-Maine Chamber has had in membership growth over the past eight months, and we view it as a positive sign that the economy in our region is picking up.”

La Belle Bridal, located between the Children’s Book Cellar and Framemakers, is owned by Linsey Gervais, who said she enjoys working with people and that while she has regular business hours, she also sees people by appointment — at any time convenient for them.

“I have 35 wedding dress samples,” Gervais said Wednesday. “I want to keep it small, personal, intimate.”

A Thomas College graduate with a bachelor’s degree in human resources, Gervais most recently worked two-and-a-half years in the human resources department for Sappi paper. She said she always has wanted to have her own shop, and this was the right time for her to do that. Her shop is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday with an extended opening until 8 p.m. on Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and by appointment Sunday and Monday.

Rita’s Catering & Event Center is owned by Areti “Rita” Menoudarakos, who also owns The End Zone, a “family-friendly” sports bar on Elm Street, and Unity House of Pizza on Main Street in Unity. She always has done catering through those two businesses and now considers Rita’s Catering a subsidiary of those businesses, she said.

“I love this community,” she said Wednesday.

Rita’s Catering offers Greek, American, Italian, Mexican and barbecued food, and space in her building is available for rent to other caterers, she said.

Menoudarakos grew up in the restaurant business, as her mother, Roula Maniatakos, managed Brothers Pizza in Lowell, Mass., before moving in 1982 to Madison and buying Madison House of Pizza. Maniatakos owned Fairfield House of Pizza, but sold it several years ago. She is retired now, but still owns Farmington House of Pizza, according to Menoudarakos, who formerly owned Winslow House of Pizza. She said she doesn’t have formal office hours, but can be reached at 592-7482.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17


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