When Williamstown's Behind the Scenes Café & Pub became Pub 7 last year, the liquor kept flowing, but locals were left without a place to meet for a sit-down meal.* Aside from the Pump & Pantry convenience store, which offers deli sandwiches, the cozy downtown restaurant was the town's only dining spot.
But even as they exited their pub, married co-owners Wayne Emmons and Denise O'Neill — two career teachers who took over Behind the Scenes in late 2014 — were already working on a new restaurant, Emmons tells Seven Days. Last November, they leased the old Williamstown fire station, which had been vacant since the fire department relocated to a new building two years ago.
After three months of renovations and prep, Emmons and O'Neill will open Country Kitchen Café this Thursday, March 3, in the low-slung white-clapboard building just around the corner from their original restaurant. Like the old outpost, the new café will offer pizzas and subs to go during evening hours, including a popular steak-and-cheese sub. But Emmons says the firehouse's ample layout allows them to do a lot more in the kitchen — and to serve more people.
"Before, we didn't have a big enough area for many people to sit down," Emmons says. Country Kitchen will offer home-style small plates, sides and entrées, such as stuffed pork chops and chicken breasts, various lasagnas and other family-friendly foods.
At breakfast and lunch, the café will offer an extensive selection of baked goods, including cakes, cookies and pies, many of which O'Neill will bake herself, using as many local ingredients as possible. Morning bagels will come from Maria's Bagels, which opened in downtown Barre last fall.
Later this spring, the two plan to open a bar in an adjoining space, where they'll offer their full dinner menu in addition to cocktails, wines and local beers on draft. They're currently finishing the conversion of part of that space into an expansive banquet room for group dining and community events.
Located at 154 Depot Street, Country Kitchen Café will be open seven days a week, 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.
*Correction, March 2, 2016: An earlier version of this story stated that Behind the Scenes Cafe & Pub closed in December. In fact, Pub 7 took its place and remains open.