HALLOWELL — Buddy Iaciofano’s grandmother died last November and he received what he called quite a bit of an inheritance. He and his fiancee, Becky Havens, knew they could just travel the world, but instead they decided they wanted to invest in the community.

So Iaciofano and Havens chose in late April to buy a longtime Hallowell restaurant and convert it into an all-day breakfast diner.

The couple, who plan to marry in November, purchased Hattie’s Chowder House at 103 Water St. for $50,000 on May 20 and hope to open the new Buddy’s Diner July 4, Iaciofano’s 33rd birthday.

“When we found this place was available, we had to jump on it,” Iaciofano said last week from a bar stool at his new establishment. “I didn’t think we would make it to this point because I’ve never done this before, and I thought somebody was going to outbid us.”

The restaurant sale is one of several recent changes in the Hallowell dining scene with other businesses changing locations, adding new products or expanding their offerings.

Havens, 33, of Philadelphia, said there was an instant connection during their first meeting with Hattie’s owners David and Harriet Schmidt. She said they had an inkling that it would be fun to own their own place.

“The connection with David and Harriet is what made this really easy,” Havens said. “It was all serendipitous.”

Iaciofano said the Schmidts mentioned to them on several occasions that Iaciofano and Havens reminded them of themselves at a younger age.

“It’s an inspiration to have that kind of support, especially because of how overwhelming this has been at times,” Iaciofano said. “They were ready to pass it along to someone else, and they accepted my offer.”

Hattie’s had been in business for 17 years, so the ramifications in the community of coming in and changing the restaurant was not lost on Iaciofano and Havens. But they both love breakfast and consider themselves “dinerholics,” so the decision was an easy one. Plus, their first date was at a diner.

“Every time we brought up the idea of opening an all-day breakfast diner in Hallowell, people tell us they’ll be there every day and can’t wait to be customers,” Iaciofano said. “There’s been a tremendous amount of support.”

Buddy’s Diner will be open from 6 a.m. until 9 p.m. and will have a full bar.

The owners plan to spend time in the next few weeks re-imagining the floorplan of the restaurant, which seats approximately 112 diners. The diner will have a more industrial look than most diners, Havens said, and will include black, white and gray colors. There will be a laptop seating area on the north wall and an area for families and children toward the front.

Iaciofano is hoping to finalize the menu soon so their technology expert can finish the website and Facebook page. Havens said the menu will include classic breakfast food from as many local sources as possible and a lot of bacon.

“Bacon is very important to me,” Iaciofano said. He hopes in the future to make his own bacon. “I mean, how hard is it? Finding a pig is easy.”

Iaciofano worked most recently at the Liberal Cup and Havens at Slates, so their experience in the food industry in Hallowell covers a wide range. Iaciofano said the industry is all he knows since leaving the military, because his background as a mortuary affairs specialist doesn’t really translate to the civilian world.

“It’s the right type of environment for me to thrive,” he said. “But I was stagnating and waiting for a slot to open up to move up, and I was being patient. But when my grandmother died, I had more options.”

Havens said she always worked at diners growing up and likes the casual community feel.

“I love the culture and how everybody feels welcome, from a CEO to a part-time janitor,” she said. “Everyone belongs.”

Iaciofano said they have a staff in place already and are looking at hiring several other part-time and full-time staff. He will run the kitchen and serve as chef, at least initially, while Havens will be the front-of-the-house manager.

“We have some gaps to fill in, but we are confident we can get this done and get this done right,” Iaciofano said. “The first couple of weeks will be a training process, but what we really want is for people to get quality food.”

In other local changes, Scrummy Afters Candy Shoppe at 136 Water St. recently began selling gelato.

“It’s been very well received,” said co-owner Hilary Davis. “We’ve had a rejuvenation, and people are coming in who’ve never been here before just for the gelato.”

The shop gets the gelato from Gorgeous Gelato in Portland, a new operation owned by a Milanese couple who import flavorings from Italy. The gelato, Davis said, is either driven to Hallowell or picked up in Portland.

“We felt like this was a niche worth getting into,” Davis said. “But gelato is more time consuming because it’s more of a service, so we’ve hired someone to help.”

She expects business to pick up after Memorial Day, and they are pleased with the amount of traffic during a mediocre time of year for their business. The shop offers seven different flavors that will change regularly.

“The raspberry sorbet is very popular,” Davis said. “It’s our only milk-free option, and it went like wildflowers, which surprised me.”

Krystal Lavallee, owner of Brews N Views at 234 Water St., is excited about the opportunity to serve food and ice cream from The Shack at 176 Water St. starting in early June. Lavallee said she will be open Monday through Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Thursday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. until at least September.

“I am very excited to open another new business and bring new business to the community,” said Lavallee, who has been the sole owner of Brews N Views since March 2015. She will serve hard ice cream, fresh lobster and crab rolls and grilled and steamed hot dogs.

There will be free Wi-Fi and outdoor seating, and Lavallee expects to have local musicians playing regularly.

After 36 years in a landmark Water Street location, Slates has reopened in its new location in its old bakery space at 167 Water St. after several months of renovations.

Owner Wendy Larson said in February that the move was made purely for business purposes because she owns the bakery building and the adjacent production building, where the bakery is now. It made sense to move from being a tenant to operating out of buildings she owns.

The restaurant held an opening party May 16.

Jason Pafundi — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @jasonpafundiKJ


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