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November 27, 2017

Farmingdale eatery, closed in 2016, reopens under new ownership

Courtesy / Magnusson Balfour Commercial & Business Brokers
Courtesy / Magnusson Balfour Commercial & Business Brokers
Magnusson Balfour broker Dennis Wheelock, left, helped new co-owner Hans Peaslee seal the deal on the popular Farmingdale eatery Mike's Place, now called Frye House.

The purchase of a popular restaurant site at 557 Maine Ave. in Farmingdale came at the right time for a couple looking for next steps in their working lives.

In a deal that closed in September, Hans Peaslee and Debbie Patterson purchased Mike's Place from Mike and Cynthia Genest for an undisclosed sum. Dennis Wheelock of Magnusson Balfour Commercial & Business Brokers represented both sides of the transaction.

The property had been on the market about one-and-a-half years, said Wheelock.

"It generated a lot interest," Wheelock said. "I had it under contract three other times, and for one reason or another, the deals fell apart. I had probably 10 to 12 showings with people who were strongly interested. And I had a lot of calls on top of that."

Enter Peaslee and Patterson, Augusta natives who now live in Sidney and are partners in life and business. Both have long-time successful careers but were looking for something a little less stressful. Patterson is the executive assistant of the Maine Harness Horsemen's Association, in Augusta. Peaslee for 30 years has been cooking in variety of restaurants, including Captain Cody's in Augusta, which featured seafood, chicken and ribs and has since closed. At one time, he owned a Java Joe's in Augusta, also since closed. Most recently, he cooked at Mainely Brews Restaurant & Brewhouse in Waterville.

"He was getting a little burnt out, so we were looking for options of what we could do," Patterson said.

A 'turnkey' restaurant site

Courtesy / Magnusson Balfour Commercial & Business Brokers
Courtesy / Magnusson Balfour Commercial & Business Brokers
Shuttered in 2016, Mike’s Place generated a lot of interest from potential buyers. It’s now under new ownership.

Mike's Place has been a well-known gathering spot for this small town since the Genests started it, 18 years ago. Peaslee and Patterson knew the Genests and were aware the restaurant was on the market. They were also acquainted with Wheelock, himself in the restaurant business for over 30 years until turning to real estate in 2012. The couple liked what they saw.

"It was pretty much turnkey," said Patterson.

The couple came up with a plan to rename the restaurant Frye House but maintain a similar style and menu.

"What they were doing worked," she said of the sellers. "They had a great restaurant and everyone in the area loved it. We figured, Why change what they were doing? So we kept the menu pretty much the same."

The Genests helped them get going, with Mike sharing kitchen information and culinary secrets like his chicken breading, and Cynthia showing Patterson how they did the books.

"They've been awesome. They want to see it succeed," Patterson said.

Patterson also credits Wheelock for his support.

"Dennis wanted to make sure we succeeded. And the support and encouragement from the community has been great," she said.

The 1,200-square-foot house-like structure, on a quarter-acre, seats 24. Off Route 201 on the way from Brunswick and leading up to Jackman, the traffic count is 15,000 cars per day. Numerous service providers, like retailers, a car dealership and an auto parts store, are in the restaurant's vicinity.

The size of the lot prevents much in the way of expansion, said Patterson. As a turnkey operation, little was needed for renovation.

"We did some small stuff. We repainted, hung new pictures, changed the two signs," she said. "Eventually, there will be pieces of equipment we'll need, like an ice machine" plus an exterior paint job.

Tweaking the menu

Since opening day, Oct. 2, the menu has seen some enhancements.

"His creatively can't be contained. He likes to push the envelope," Patterson said of Peaslee. So far, they've added milkshakes, wings and deep-fried Oreos, were planning to add Chicago hot dogs and maybe bring back Captain Cody's ribs.

"Hans is a foodie. He loves trying different kinds of food," she said. "He was in Chicago and tried a Chicago dog, and he said, 'Debby, it's to die for. Bolley's Famous Franks is up the road from us and is known for their hot dogs, and we're not going to get into that market. But he wanted something special, so he ordered Chicago dogs. But our customer base mostly comes for the chicken. We sell an amazing amount of chicken."

Patterson is keeping her other job, plus working four shifts front-of-the-house and doing the books, while Peaslee cooks.

"We're not taking a paycheck yet. We want to make sure it does what we need it to do," she said.

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