SKOWHEGAN – The owner of the Somerset Coffee & Tea Co. wants to open a coffee shop in the former Empire Grill.

“The idea of having a sit-down coffee shop downtown is very appealing,” said Robie Leavitt, who established the wholesale and retail Somerset coffee and tea business at 399 Waterville Road two years ago.

Leavitt said the plan for downtown includes a drive-up window. The plan is to install the window near the back of the restaurant, where a large metal vent is now located.

“You can go in by The Bankery (on Water Street) and come around that way,” he said. “Worse come to worst, you can go beside the Empire Grill and turn around and come back.”

Leavitt was scheduled to go before the Board of Selectmen tonight on the drive-up window plan, but had to postpone due to a family emergency.

Some town officials said they weren’t sure the drive-up window idea was feasible because it could involve the use of town land.

Skowhegan Code Enforcement Officer Randall Gray said a coffee shop would be allowed in the building, but a drive-up window could involve use of town property and would have to be approved by selectmen.

Empire Grill, remodeled for the 2005 HBO mini-series “Empire Falls,” closed in March. Tom Miller and Kerry Pomelow said the declining economy and energy costs to run the 70-seat restaurant became too much for them.


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