WILTON — For several months, there has been a lot of activity at 843 U.S. Route 2. What had been a long-shuttered pizzeria is being transformed into Salt and Pepper, a new restaurant owned by Don and Mary Beane of Wilton.

Salt and Pepper will open soon at 843 U.S. Route 2 in Wilton Franklin Journal photo by Dee Menear

“We really can’t wait to start feeding people,” said Mary Beane. “We are excited about trying new things.”

A menu has not been released but Mary said the plan was to offer a wide range of real food selections, which will allow people to make choices that fit their lifestyle.

It is difficult to put the menu into a specific category. “It’ll be classics with a twist; new American cuisine,” she added.

Menu choices will be heavy in vegetable offerings, she said.

“Veggies are considered an important aspect of a meal when they really can be the stars,” she added.

The couple has an extensive background in the restaurant business.

Don started his kitchen career when he was 13 years old at Stewart’s Diner, which later became Farmington Diner. That was in the late 1960s. During high school, he worked at West Farmington Pizza.

He ran a Dallas, Texas, restaurant for a year before returning to Maine to help his parents with their pizza place in Waterville.

Don finally settled in the kitchen at the University of Maine at Farmington, where he cooked for more than 30 years.

Mary has been in the kitchen since she first began attending summer camp, she said. In high school, she worked as a waitress.

After graduating high school, Mary was a cook at Arrows and Whistling Oyster in Ogunquit.

“I’ve been very lucky to work in Ogunquit with some really great people who took me under their wings,” she added. “Those people taught me a lot along the way.

“The only reason I came to Farmington was because my car broke down and I couldn’t go to Colorado with my Ogunquit coworkers.”

In Farmington, she lived with her grandparents while attending UMF, working at Fiddleheads, which later became the Granary.

Mary stepped away from the business for a few years after marrying Don and having children. Later, she ran a catering business, Creative Catering.

“It was hard work but really fun,” she said. “We already have several catering events on the books for the summer and we are not even open.”

In 1991, Don and Mary began spending their summers as the husband and wife chef team at Camp Taconnet on Great Pond in Belgrade. Eventually, they began managing the resort while continuing their chef duties.

“We honed a lot of skills there and really learned how to work together,” Mary said.

The couple has resigned from their positions there but continues to help the new management transition into its duties, she said.

The restaurant business is different from other lines of work in that co-workers become like family.

“Our first tenet of business is to create a great working environment for ourselves and our employees,” Mary said. “We want to take care of our employees and encourage them. Everyone can aspire to do great things.”

Staffing for the restaurant is set, but Mary said they are always accepting applications.

“We have a great team assembled,” she said. “We have a good mix of young people, people who have been with us in the catering business and people who have been a part of our circle for a long time. We just couldn’t have a better team.”

Mary said part of her job at Taconnet involved team building. “That turned out to be my favorite part of the job,” she said. “I am looking forward to working with the team we have.”

Lots of family friends have been involved with the interior demolition and refinishing of the restaurant, Mary said.

“Sue Lejoy was the impetus to the demolition work,” she said. “We were in here maybe two weeks when she stopped by and asked when I was going to start demo-ing. I told her I didn’t know how. She started ripping and tearing down the walls and ceiling. She made so much happen.”

The builder, Chris Molly of Skowhegan, was the ring bearer at Don and Mary’s wedding. Growing up, electrician Dylan Orffer of Wilton lived down the street from the Beane family.

“Dylan always shows up in our old birthday party videos,” she added.

Plumber Jeremy McCluskey of Wilton works for Pete’s Plumbing in Strong. “Jeremy was best friends of our son, Adam,” she said.

“We first put an offer in on this property six or seven years before we lost Adam,” she added. “He was going to run it but the offer was refused.”

Adam passed away in 2015 on Christmas Eve.

“They have really been advisers to us,” said Mary. “We know how to run a restaurant but we don’t know how to do what they do. It’s been very humbling.”

Mary said she is looking forward to using the restaurant as a platform for serving the community through her involvement with Western Maine Homeless Outreach and volunteers with Healthy Community Coalition Cooking Matters classes.

Barring any unexpected delays, Salt and Pepper is expected to open by mid-June. The restaurant will be open Tuesday through Sunday for lunch. Breakfast will be served Friday through Sunday and dinner will be served Tuesday through Saturday.


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