AUGUSTA — When the price dropped on the former Al’s Pizza building, Dave Poulin and Lisa Taber Poulin knew the time had come for their cafe.

“Everything has been falling right into place,” Taber Poulin said, standing on the brand new vinyl floor in the future customer seating area of Fat Cat’s Cafe. She’d been sitting on a chair to find out whether the floor would be dimpled by the chair legs. The verdict: so far so good.

“We’re not getting any younger,” Poulin, 53, said.

“It was now or never,” Taber Poulin, 51, added.

The resilience of the flooring is just one of the details the couple is managing as they move closer to a planned October opening at 256 State St., just down the hill from the Maine State House and a number of state office buildings filled with potential customers. Just to the west lies a neighborhood of homes filled with people who they anticipate drawing in as well.

Although the building had housed a pizza restaurant for a number of years, with the help of a number of local contractors, they stripped it down to the studs and started building it back up to suit their own plans for a place that will serve breakfast, lunch and offer pre-made dinners to go.

Bolstering their plan is their assessment that Augusta is short of restaurants like theirs, and the area they have chosen is, they feel, underserved. They’ve also reviewed the traffic counts on State Street, which represents another source of possible customers.

At the end of June, Poulin left his job at the Kennebec Valley Community Action Program in Waterville, where he cooked for 240 people every day. Poulin is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu cooking school and has worked in the food service industry for years,

“I really care about the food,” Poulin said. “And I think people care what they are eating.”

“And they want it to taste good,” Taber Poulin said. Although she has not worked in a restaurant since her first job at 16, that job ignited a love of cooking and she now has a bookcase full of cookbooks,

They’ll start with a basic menu and add on from there. Quite often, Taber Poulin said, customers will dictate what direction the menu will take. And they know their cafe will not be limited to just sandwiches. They plan soups, salads, and other dishes like paella and frittata, and whatever else they are in the mood to make, including gluten-free options.

They do know they will source food locally and will serve Speckled Ax’s wood roasted coffee.

“It’s some of the best I’ve ever had,” Poulin said.

Next up on the to-do list is installing the signs and that’s expected to happen this week.

Poulin said names are hard to come up with, but with everything going on both on Wall Street and in politics, the name came up and it stuck.

The fact that the dome of the Maine State House is visible through the trees from the cafe doesn’t hurt, either. The outline of the dome is included in the sign.

With that, they’ll be about three-quarters of the way done, Taber Poulin said.

“We’ll be seven-eighths of the way done,” Poulin said.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ


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