Closed signs and brown paper cover the windows of the Bentleys Restaurant in Woodstock. The business has been around for 37 years and it's literally at the cross of the town.
Frequent customers, like Eddie Evertz, said it's already missed. "The staff was great. It's just been a fun place to go to," he said.
Bentleys and the Fire Stones Restaurant in neighboring Quechee both folded recently. The businesses are owned by the same investors and are reportedly millions in the red.
"There had been rumor swirling about Bentleys having difficulties, and they have had difficulties in the past, but never closed," said Beth Finlayson with the Woodstock Area Chamber of Commerce.
The company that owns Bentleys filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection last week. In a written statement, owners said the financial problems with the business were too insurmountable to overcome. But despite that, owners said there are plans to reopen. Bentleys liquor license and assets are in the process of being acquired by The Stonewall of Woodstock Corporation, whose owner -- John Ruggieri -- lives in Barnard part-time.
But for some long-time Woodstock residents like Gordon Tuthill, another restaurant may not by the right answer. "it was sad to see it go, but it was also a little sad to see it take up so many of the other small businesses," he said.
Tuthill, who has lived in the area since the 1940s, remembers when Bentleys used to be a corner store, selling fruit and soda pop. A furniture store and barber shop also insured that the business makeup in town was not so heavily reliant on tourism. "At one time you could buy any make of automobile in this town -- car dealerships," Tuthill said.
And there are other concerns about displaced workers. ""There are a lot of local employees there," Finlayson said.
Ruggieri said getting those people back to work is a priority. Good news for employees and those looking to get their old watering hole back.
"We are sorry to see it go down but I am happy to hear they are going to reopen again," Eddie Evertz said.
The Woodstock selectboard has already approved the transfer of the liquor license. The state still needs to sign off.
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