Developer plans to give new life to Old Lyme landmark Cherrystones

Old Lyme - Cherrystones restaurant will be reborn as the Old Lyme Beach House next year.

The old Cherrystones building, a favorite local hangout at 218 Shore Road that has been closed for about a year, will undergo an extensive renovation, according to plans approved earlier this year by the town. The new restaurant, owned by Vincent J. Dowling Jr. under the business name Big Green Outdoor LLC of Farmington, will include about 240 seats, including two outdoor patios with combined seating for 80.

"The existing main restaurant building will be retained and completely renovated on essentially the same footprint," according to a description of the project at the town's planning department.

According to the plans, the brightened-up restaurant will include a 1,200-square-foot bar and dining room, another 1,200-square-foot main dining room, and a banquet room about half the size of the other, larger spaces. The two-story building, designed by Point One Architects of Old Lyme, also will include an upstairs office area with a cupola and stone chimney.

In April, the Zoning Commission approved construction of the Old Lyme Beach House Clam Shack on the west side of the nearly 2½-acre lot. The 28-by-36-foot eatery, which features takeout food and ice cream, has remained open since its August debut.

A call to Dowling's office in Farmington elicited little information, other than the name of the restaurant's operator, Scott Champagne, who also runs the Otter Cove restaurant in Old Saybrook. Champagne, who also was in charge of the clam shack opening, did not immediately return a phone call.

Project costs were estimated at $750,000, which includes the removal of a paved lot and the installation of crushed stone or shells in a parking area with a capacity of 100 vehicles. Hours for the main restaurant would be 11:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, with closing extended until 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

"These hours may be reduced in the winter months, but the restaurant will be open year-round," according to a project description.

Maximum number of employees during peak hours is expected to be 20, according to project documents. The original filings anticipated the restaurant opening this fall, but planning personnel said they didn't expect the nearly 8,000-square-foot Old Lyme Beach House to be ready until next year.

No activity was seen at the restaurant mid-afternoon Friday, though one earth mover was visible on site.

Cherrystones, a year-round restaurant, dated back more than a quarter century. The site previously operated as 100 Acres Restaurant, a favorite seasonal spot for generations of beach-goers. Both restaurants were operated by the Montanaro family, which announced in May 2012 that they had sold the property after four decades of ownership.

l.howard@theday.com

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