RAYMOND – Jeff Pomeroy ran a hot dog stand during the summer when he was 18 years old. That’s the extent of his restaurant experience.

Now, he’s ready to be head cook at the Black Ghost Cafe, a floating burger and seafood shack that he built from the bottom up.

Pomeroy, 45, started last month by taking a chain saw to a run-down trailer he had bought for cheap. He chopped off everything above the floor. Two weeks and $30,000 later, he had a 200-square-foot pontoon boat complete with refrigerator, Frialators and a sliding door for access to an outdoor lobster steamer.

The floating cafe on Sebago Lake is just part of Pomeroy’s plan for Raymond Beach, and might not even be his most ambitious venture of the summer.

In addition to flipping burgers and steaming lobsters, he’ll spend the coming months combing the beach for cigarette butts and trying to change the reputation of the strip of sand along Route 302 that in recent years became a dumping ground.

“It’s not that place anymore,” Pomeroy said. “I’m cleaning every nook and cranny.”

Turning the beach over to a private manager was the town’s solution to the trash problem. Town officials shut down the beach last July, after public works employees found dirty diapers and piles of human feces on the property.

In the winter, the town put out a request for proposals to run Raymond Beach. The only plan came from Pomeroy, who had been looking for a way to stabilize his income as he watched his woodworking company struggle in the weak economy.

Pomeroy hoped to open in time for Memorial Day and capitalize on the busy first weekend of summer. Although he had finished building the boat by then, he didn’t have all the needed state and local approvals to put it in the water.

Since his plan became public, Pomeroy said, the town has been abuzz about it.

He said consultants have called to offer business advice. Other people want to work at the cafe. Most often, he hears from people who say they have thought for years about opening their own floating restaurant on the lake but never followed through.

Dave Martens, manager of nearby Port Harbor Marine, said his employees are excited about the novel eatery.

“From the little bit I’ve heard, it sounds favorable,” he said. “As long as it attracts a good business and lives up to what they’re proposing, I think it can benefit the area.”

Until now, Frye’s Leap General Store and Cafe on nearby Frye Island has been the only place where boaters could get a cooked meal on Sebago Lake.

“People will certainly be excited for a new place to go,” said Jean Russo, owner of Frye’s Leap, which is about a five-minute boat ride from Raymond Beach.

“It’s too bad it’s so close to me,” she said.

The cafe will float at the end of 100-foot-long dock, so people on the beach can walk up to one window. The boat-through window will be on the other side.

Pomeroy plans to do all of the cooking, while his 16-year-old daughter, Grace, takes orders. If the cafe gets as busy as Pomeroy hopes, he’ll hire more help.

He said, “I’ve got a list a mile long” of people who have asked him for a job.

The remaining unknown is whether the floating cafe is a viable business.

Considering the amount of money Pomeroy has invested, he said his family is a little nervous. But in Pomeroy’s mind, the only way he won’t succeed is if the weather gets in his way.

“There’s no doubt in my mind they’ll be banging down my door,” he said.

Staff Writer Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or at:

[email protected]