Iconic summer eatery in Dover-Foxcroft will reopen with a new name

By Valerie Royzman, Staff Writer

DOVER-FOXCROFT — An iconic Dover-Foxcroft ice cream and seafood joint that shuttered in 2021 will reopen under a new name and ownership this summer, though people can expect many of the same favorite treats.

Pat’s Dairyland was a popular summertime spot downtown, serving ice cream, burgers and fish sandwiches, fried seafood, onion rings and more. It opened in 1964 and has had different owners over the decades, said Jimmi Brown, the new owner who plans to reopen it as Riverside Grill in early July.

He bought the business from Rose Grant, whose partner Burgess Grant died in September 2021, which is when it stopped operating, Brown said. The Grants ran it for about 25 years, he said. Before them, Hazel Joyce and Paul Hews owned and operated it for 17 years, according to her obituary from May 2016.

News of the defunct business reopening has area residents excited and curious about Riverside Grill’s offerings, Brown said. He highlighted a “1950s cruise-in diner theme,” and plans to host cruise-ins with classic cars on a weekly basis. The restaurant’s revival gives those living in and visiting Piscataquis County another restaurant option and will create new jobs, though they will be seasonal from about April to October.

Photo courtesy of Jimmi Brown
RIVERSIDE GRILL — The former Pat’s Dairyland on South Street in Dover-Foxcroft is undergoing renovations to open under new ownership as Riverside Grill.

“Pat’s was definitely a staple in town,” he said. “There’s a lot of buzz about opening back up. Our food will be similar to Pat’s because that’s what people liked. We might throw a few other things in there.”

Brown, who lives in Bowerbank and grew up attending school in Dover-Foxcroft, plans to hire 10 to 12 people, including part-time and full-time positions. He’s enthusiastic about employing high school students and will work with their schedules to accommodate, he said, because he remembers how important that was for his daughters.

Brown also owns Lincoln-based Dark Bark of Maine, which supplies mulch around the state and to Massachusetts and New Hampshire. He has another relatively new fencing business in Leesburg, Florida, which Brown’s nephew and his wife operate.

He never had plans to own a restaurant, but Brown knew the previous owners and understood how loved Pat’s Dairyland was by the community, he said. Riverside Grill will source some of its ingredients from local businesses, though plans are still in the works. 

As part of the reopening, changes to the building are underway, including a renovated kitchen with new equipment meant to speed up wait times for customers, Brown said. The building’s siding was stripped, walls are being painted and windows are being moved so that they’re level, he said.

Riverside Grill will offer seating indoors and outdoors in a newly built screened-in porch, he said. Patrons can also take food to-go.

Karen Pomeroy, who lives in southern Maine but was born and grew up in Dover-Foxcroft, remembers frequenting Pat’s Dairyland during her childhood and later with her own kids. It was exciting when the business would open in the springtime because it meant ice cream after school — the ultimate treat, she said.

Pomeroy remembers that the previous owners were genuine and hard-working despite sometimes having long lines of customers, and her family members have raved about the haddock sandwiches and onion rings, she said.

When Pomeroy’s children would drive up from southern Maine and Massachusetts to the family’s camp on Sebec Lake, they would place an order at Pat’s to pick up along the way. Rose Grant also knew her late husband’s regular order.

“People would go for fried clams,” she said. “Everybody had their favorites. I’m excited [for the reopening] because we don’t have a lot of choices in town.”

Brown expects Riverside Grill, 1016 South Street in Dover-Foxcroft, will be open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. For more information, find the restaurant on Facebook.

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