HOPE — On Wednesday, August 1, the pastoral property at 42 Hatchet Mountain Road in Hope — formerly the Hatchett Mountain Publick House — will reopen as the Barrettstown Farmhouse, a restaurant specializing in tasty, approachable food, fun drinks and good people, said new owner Jessica “Jessi” Wootton.
Jessi's decision to stay in her home state of Maine was not initially one she anticipated. After more than five years living on St. John USVI, she flew home in July 2017 to attend the birth of her nephew.
"One morning I was sitting at Hobbs Pond, which is the most special place on earth to me. My mom and I were talking and drinking coffee, when she suggested looking at the Hatchett Mountain property," Jessi said.
When Jessi, 37, made the decision to purchase the property — comprised of a restaurant space and farmhouse situated on 8.5 acres of fields and woodland — she said it initially took a bit of time to complete the deal. While she looked at other properties, she always had the restaurant close in her mind.
It was during her stay in Maine that Hurricane Irma struck the island that had become a second home to her.
"I considered buying a restaurant on St. John," she said quietly, "and I'm really glad I didn't. The storm really devastated people's lives."
A Camden native, she cut her teeth working at many local restaurants.
"My first job was dishwashing at [now shuttered] Fitzpatrick's!" She said. Jessi has subsequently worked in many types of restaurants and catering operations, and in various roles. This experience has prepared her to venture out on her own.
Now, with her new restaurant on the brink of opening, Jessi said it is "so exciting, and so daunting all at once."
She added that she is thrilled to have her own space to utilize all of her previous experiences.
Jessi's good friend, chef John "Johnny B" Bullock, lives on premise and will be at the helm of the kitchen. The two met and became fast friends, working on St. John over the years. After the hurricane, Johnny B moved back to Maine where he was raised.
"The storm was really the straw that broke the camel's back, after the hurricane I was in limbo." He said.
He met Jessi when he started playing music at the resort where she was the bar manager. The pair have known one another for six years, Johnny B said.
Johnny B said he is looking forward to working with his longtime friend to cultivate a positive space with an atmosphere that invites fun. And of course, there will be music. Jessi said that when the restaurant opens its doors on August 1, she will have approximately 10 solid team members. She added that she has hired many younger staff members, all with musical talent and a wealth of creativity.
She added that she is excited to work with a young staff, "I love the educational aspect," she said.
Jessi and Johnny B also plan to keep the menu "as local as possible," procuring veggies, meats and cheese from local farms and artisans.
"I think it's really important to be open year round during the first year," Jessi said.
In addition to a full bar with specialty cocktails, Jessi said Barrettstown Farmhouse will have up to six beers on tap, and that she will feature local, rotating brews on her list.
Like the beer menu, the food menu will rotate frequently, reflecting the availability of product and the creativity of the team.
Johnny B said diners can expect a variety of tasty and creative menu options including fresh fish, vegetarian offerings and even game meats when possible.
"I want it to be a place where no matter what, someone can always stop and get a phenomenal burger and a cold beer," Jessi said, with a smile. "We just want it to be a fun environment with lots of people sharing joy. I hope it will comfortable for everybody, i want it to feel like home."
Barrettstown Farmhouse will open officially August 1 and Jessi said she plans to be open year-round. Hours will be 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, with Sunday brunch offered from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The first brunch will include live bluegrass music, both Jessi and
Johnny B. said they are excited to share their passion for music through hosting a variety of performers as often as possible at the restaurant.
Though the atmosphere in the 75-seat restaurant is casual, reservations are strongly recommended and can be made by calling (207) 763-3463.
Jessi pointed out that the last four digits of the phone number spell "DINE" something that the folks at the Lincolnville Telephone Company did as a surprise when assigning the number. Jessi's gratitude to to the community members and businesses she has worked with during this journey is evident.
"Everything kind of fell into my lap, I feel like everyday I am doing a happy dance," she said.
She reflected on her mentors, citing Terry Fitzpatrick and Joe Feraco. She added that everyone she has worked with in the community has been "amazing," from her realtor Bennett Bricker at Camden Real Estate, to First National Bank and the Town of Hope. Local designer Ben McGinnis was instrumental in the creation of her sign and logo. She also added that Jackson Landscape of Camden did an excellent job on the grounds and stonework.
She referred to Feraco as "a dear friend and the best boss and mentor. His motto is 'firm but fair,' he has taught me a lot," Jessi said. “'He has always made the service industry fun, the way it should be, customers respond to a happy environment.”
Jessi added that she wants to "do things in phases," and will likely offer a venue for weddings and events once the restaurant is underway. Additionally, she said she has already been working on local collaborations with other small businesses in Hope. She looks forward to welcoming snowmobiles and outdoor traffic during the winter months.
A successful soft opening took place on Saturday, July 28. Many friends and family members were there to help celebrate her new adventure.
"I have a huge connection to Hope, I spent my childhood out here. This just feels natural to me," said Jessi.
Jenna Lookner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org