Lakes Plaza construction wraps up this month

THE AWNINGS WERE UP on some of the storefronts of the Lakes Plaza earlier in July when this photo was taken. On Friday, a subcontractor paved the driveway and parking lot of the plaza. By the first week of August, two tenants will be setting up shop there. (De Busk Photo)
Metcalf hopes to net customers at Annette’s Country Skillet Diner
By Dawn De Busk
Staff Writer
NAPLES — Over the years, some residents might have seen Coach Annette Metcalf when a local girls’ basketball team was on a hot streak.
In the next few weeks, Metcalf will be stepping into a hot kitchen, hoping to score some loyal customers and fill the seats.
Metcalf is eagerly awaiting the completion of the Lakes Plaza so she can prepare the space for the new eating establishment she is starting.
Annette’s Country Skillet Diner is the name of the restaurant that will move into the Lakes Plaza, set back from Route 302 and within a quarter-mile of Junction 11.
The Harrison resident said this will be her first time as a restaurant owner. She’s spent more time working up a sweat on the court; and most recently, she’s been calling the plays as a basketball referee.
Now, the countdown is on for the grand opening of Annette’s Country Skillet Diner.
“My goal is to be open the second week of August. We will be looking to hire. And, we will have some family working there,” she said.
Plans are to be open daily, from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. Additionally, the diner will operate year-round. That means the diner will not rely only on summer tourism but also appeal to year-round residents, leaf peepers and winter recreationalists. The new restaurant might score big with professionals and blue collar workers in the area, too, she said.
In addition to some home-cooked favorites — like meatloaf and lasagna — on the menu, the Skillet will offer quick and inexpensive food items.
“We will have pizza slices for people on the run. We will have a pizza oven and hot dog steamer,” she said.
So, local people who are taking a lunch break or going home after a workday “can grab a pizza, hot sandwich and fly out of there,” she said.
Before the first eggs and bacon have been fried or the first order plated up, Metcalf’s diner has a following on Facebook and throughout the community.
“Oh, yes, I have a Facebook page going. My feedback is amazing. It’s my business Facebook page for Country Skillet Diner. You should check it out,” she said.
As far as the people she sees at the grocery store, Metcalf is a familiar face to many.
“I played basketball in high school. I coached basketball for 14 years and now I referee. I am a better coach than a ref,” she joked.

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — Word gets around fast.

But, when the location is a particularly busy and well-traveled section of Route 302, people are going to notice and talk about the construction taking place.

Once there was a farmhouse.

Now, a commercial plaza is in the final stages of construction.

The large, ordinance-approved business sign at the edge of Roosevelt Trail lets people know it’s the future site of the Lakes Plaza. Every week, the construction goes at a feverish pace.

According to the owner Kevin Gagnon, the Naples units will be done in less than two weeks.

“We still have a punch list of items,” Gagnon said on Tuesday.

“There are three more units that need awnings. Gooseneck lighting will go across the whole front of it plus down the side of it. The gooseneck lighting will be illuminating the front of building to make it have a lit presence at night but still soft,” he said.

In addition to lighting suitable for a town with a small community appearance, Gagnon said the vacant space has lots of amenities that should attract more clients.

“Everything is brand new. With the heating system, we have a warranty. Everything is warrantied because it’s brand new,” he said. “Everything is fresh.”

Every unit has 1,800 square feet of space. The one restaurant spot is already spoken for, and that is also 1,800 square feet.

“The exposure,” he said, “you cannot beat that. It’s great exposure on Route 302.”

The plaza is set back from Route 302 near the Route 11 junction, just past Aubuchon’s Hardware in Naples.

The Lakes Plaza offers business spaces in an area that was thirsting for just that.

Already, two business-owners have signed a lease with KP Gagnon Company.

The respective owners of Annette’s Country Skillet Diner and Jewelz Beyond Hair aim to be moving in and setting up shop in early August. (See Lakes Plaza tenants, Page XX)

Gagnon is pleased with the types of businesses that will be going in for certain, a beauty salon and a restaurant, he said. He plans to attract professional and service-oriented businesses as future lessees.

“The beauty of the diner is all home-cooked meals will be served,” he said.

The restaurant will be successful because people like to eat out and a diner is a great anchor for the other businesses, Gagnon said.

“Food and services feed off each other,” he said, saying someone might get their hair professionally done and weave the luxury of eating out into their day since the restaurant is next to the salon.

“Over the next year or two, you are going to see a big transition that retail facilities aren’t doing well. That’s because people are shopping online. With regular retail you are seeing a shift in the market, most people, especially the younger generation, are shopping online. The first thing to be affected is the large malls. How does chain store A and chain store B compete when Amazon is doing such a bang-up job,” Gagnon said.

“That is a business trend. This is not something that I came up with. It is a fact in the market place now, especially as it relates to retail,” he said.

“Definitely I can expand the plaza. I am interested in getting a professional or medical company. It is all laid out for that.

It could be an insurance, chiropractor, dental, or real estate business,” he said.

“I turn every unit over as completed ‘Vanilla Box,’ as they say in the industry. What that includes is the flooring, handicapped-accessible bathrooms, suspended ceilings, lighting and life-safety systems like pull stations and smoke alarms and sprinkler systems,” he said.

“The walls are all primed and ready for them [future tenants] to paint. In the beauty shop, they are using three or four different paint colors,” he said.

As the general contractor of his commercial development, Gagnon tried to hire as local as possible.

“R.N. Willey & Sons Inc. Excavating — they handled all the excavation. They groomed my whole yard. They loamed and seeded and mulched it. They were excellent,” he said.

R.N. Willey is based in Casco.

“I tried to stay local. All my concrete foundation was Henry Hudson Concrete, of Harrison,” he said.

Locbid Construction, out of Lisbon, was responsible for building the plaza. The walls went up in June and the construction crew has since moved on to other projects.

Maine Bay Canvas is doing the awnings while Lawler Electric takes care of the lighting.

The crew from Pine Tree Paving, of Norway, had their day in the sun. Pine Tree Paving left behind the completed driveway and parking lot that Gagnon and his tenants hope will be filled with vehicles on a regular basis.

Gagnon owns the Naples Shopping Center, which he opened in 1986 and renovated in 2010–11. He owns other commercial spaces including the Raymond Shopping Center that got a facelift in 2013, the Gorham Village Mall, the Colonial Market Place in Standish, and the Mexico Retail Center co-owned with Rob Howe. Plus, Gagnon owns several Rite Aid stores across the state, including one in Naples and one in Gorham.

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