WATERVILLE — A popular restaurant in the city, Buen Apetito, reopened Tuesday at a new address after a parking dispute led its owners to leave their longtime location at the Railroad Square complex off Chaplin Street.

The Mexican restaurant can now be found at 99 West River Road, adjacent to Pine Ridge Municipal Golf Course. It’s been a mainstay of Waterville dining for 20 years.

But its course changed in December when Railroad Square Cinema moved downtown into the new Paul J. Schupf Art Center, and stopped paying for the restaurant’s parking area. Restaurant owners Susan and Gary Laplant couldn’t reach an agreement with building management on terms for customer parking and moved out of the space on Christmas Eve.

Just a week or two later, the owners of the bar and arcade Drip City announced they were leaving their location at 99 West River Road and moving over to Main Street. The Laplants saw the spot as ideal for them and within a matter of weeks the space has transformed from a retro-themed arcade bar into a family restaurant.

“We are just thrilled about this new location, we could not have found a better spot,” Susan Laplant said. “If we were to build a spot, this would probably be it.”

Laplant said Tuesday she and her husband are excited to welcome back their customers, who can expect more than just a change in location. Buen Apetito’s bar will also reopen for the first time since before the COVID-19 pandemic, and a new patio will allow for outdoor dining during the summertime.


“We overlook the golf course, it’s just really pretty right here,” Laplant said, explaining that the new spot also provides more parking and a kitchen far larger than the prior one.

She said their landlord mentioned preliminary plans are in the works for an ice skating rink and soccer field in the area, which could drive up traffic.

Buen Apetito guests Mark and Sue Esty, at center, wave to server Sarah Rodrigue, right, and server/bartender Amber Collman as they arrive for dinner Tuesday during the opening of the restaurant at its new location at 99 West River Road in Waterville. Also shown at left is server Chrystal Hachey. The Estys said they’ve been patrons of Buen Apetito for two decades. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

The quick turnaround, Laplant said, was “equal parts stressful and exciting” and made possible because so many people pulled together. She and her husband, their staff at Buen Apetito, and the folks at Drip City, too, worked to remove equipment such as large arcade games and moved in new furniture in a matter of days.

Now everything is set for business as usual.

“We’re grateful to be reopening and we’re just going to keep doing what we’ve been doing,” Laplant said.

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