Last month, when Budget Travel magazine named White River Junction one of the “10 Coolest Small Towns” in the country, the writer most likely had no idea that Elixir Restaurant & Lounge, one of the hip businesses mentioned in the write-up, was on the verge of closing.
After a celebration last Saturday, the eatery — known for its creative martinis and tapas-sized servings of Kobe-beef sliders and butter-braised “Lobstah!” — closed its doors.
Owner Mike Davidson says he just couldn’t keep up with the restaurant and his other businesses, a “real-estate investment business” and a contracting company, which kept him too busy to do the work the hot spot required. “Anyone that’s in the restaurant business knows you’ve gotta be there, and I couldn’t be there,” Davidson says.
He admits the economy was another factor — the restaurant was losing “some money” — but is convinced a hands-on operator could turn things around. “I could have made up for [lower revenues] with private parties if I could have gotten on the phone [with people at Dartmouth College and the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center],” Davidson claims. “The restaurant was very successful . . . it’s the last 20 percent of business that makes or breaks you.”
Luckily, he dishes, other folks feel the same way. “I have two different parties looking at it, both of whom own restaurants now,” says Davidson. More than 50 customers have sent emails asking, in essence, “How could you close this?” he adds. He hopes to strike a deal that will save the restaurant: “I’m not being very greedy about it. People want it to stay.”