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New Scotland Archives The Altamont Enterprise, March 11, 2010
Big Box to open in New Scotland after all
By Saranac Hale Spencer
NEW SCOTLAND A big box is opening on Route 85, but it’s nothing new, it’s been there for years.
The blocky stone building, built as a convent, set back from the road is just a “big box on a hill,” said John Jeffers this week. He ran J.J. Maddens in the same building a few years ago, but closed it down after he had a change in staffing and had trouble building a customer base, he said.
Now he’s opening a restaurant that will feature pub fare and eight draft beers. The name he’s using Big Box capitalizes on the controversy that has gripped the town for the last two years since an out-of-town developer proposed building a large-scale Target-anchored shopping center next to the old convent.
Jeffers’s brother, Jimmy, owns the building and has had several offers to sell it, but isn’t planning to, John Jeffers said.
“I’m not going to sell it. Why don’t you open again?” John Jeffers recalled of what his brother offered recently. “I laughed,” he said, adding, “I called him back and said, ‘I’ll open again.’ Then he laughed.”
A friend of his suggested the name, which will surely attract notice in a town so acutely aware of zoning and development issues. Jeffers, realizing the possibilities, asked himself, “Could I live with that name?”
“I went with it,” he said, explaining that he never supported the construction of a shopping center with so-called big-box stores. He wants to see smaller-scale commercial development, he said. A bill aimed at promoting that view is to be voted on by the town board following a public hearing tonight.
After the convent closed, the building was home to a family restaurant, The Heavenly Inn, for years and then was run as a gourmet restaurant, L’Auberge Suisse, with continental fare, before Jeffers opened J.J. Maddens in 2006.
The restaurant will be entirely his vision, Jeffers said, contrasting his new venture to his last, in which he relied on other chefs. The Big Box Pub and Grill will focus on the bar and feature a menu with personal-sized pizzas, nachos, and hand-packed burgers from nearby Falvo’s Meat Market.
Rather than using the building’s three dining rooms, Jeffers has turned one into an overflow bar and another into a game room for families with children. He’s waiting for his liquor license to come through from the state so that he can open with the week, Jeffers said.