BARTON, VT - The Candlepin Restaurant has been well known in Barton for over 50 years. Once a restaurant, bar, and bowling alley, the business has had many problems over recent years. From the loss of the bowling alley to a string of new owners, the restaurant has suffered from a common problem with many long lasting businesses, a loss of identity. That is a problem Dave and Barbara Prue are trying to fix.
The Prues took over the Candlepin in October of 2010. It didn’t take them long to realize there was a problem with the business. No one came anymore. So they set out to change the Candlepin’s image.
The first thing they did was change the menu. Dave brought in home cooked specials like chicken pot pie and seafood options. He created a seafood chowder that is fast becoming a customer favorite; kept the fried favorites, burgers and sandwiches; and is bringing back other comfort food.
The new menu was just the beginning of the Prues’ changes. The building looks much the same from the street, but the inside has received a very large makeover. When the Prues took over, they planned to turn the Candlepin into a lounge, where people could get a meal, listen to music and dance.
That required a dance floor. As the floor was laid in a section of the main dining room, they noticed the rest of the carpet needed to come out as well. The floor project turned into a remodeling job. Dividing walls came down, walls were painted, and the bar was replaced with a wooden top.
Newer tables, less booths, a pool table, a jukebox, and a few games fill in the new space and created a tavern atmosphere. With the old '70s style wood paneling gone, light floods the space.
All the remodeling took place last December, the same month the restaurant acquired a full liquor license.
The Prues are not new to the Kingdom business scene. Dave has had his own DJ company for years, and they were the owners of Kingdom’s Playground. With that background, he is envisioning new life for the Candlepin.
“I would like to see more of a restaurant/bar feel. More like a lounge,” Dave said. “I’d like to see people come in and eat, bring their kids, and stay for music.”
Dave said the area lacks a place for teens to hang out, where parents can bring their older children, and a place where the younger bar crowd can dance comfortably. He envisions the new Candlepin Lounge as a place to “hang out” and not just a place to eat.
The restaurant has always had small bar area, but with a full liquor license, a large parking lot, and a lot of space, the Prues are hoping to expand its image.
Even with all of the new changes, business has been slow in coming.
“The problem is, people don’t know we are here,” Barb said.
The Prues both said that, in this area, word of mouth is everything, and they have to get the word out that the Candlepin Lounge isn’t the same old restaurant it has been for 50 plus years. That is the hard part, Dave said.
The Candlepin has a reputation, and saying under new management means nothing to a place that has changed hands so many times in so few years, Barb said. The hope is that if they are persistent, serve good food, and provide good entertainment, the people will soon follow.
Currently the restaurant is open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday, breakfast is served on the weekends, and music (by Dave's DJ service or a band) is provided Friday and Saturday nights.
“We play everything. If you want to hear something, we’ve got it,” Dave boasted with a smile.
Chain Reaction will play the Candlepin on April 14.