March 17, 2013

Squirrel's Nest diner a stroll down memory lane


ROUSES POINT — A local woman is offering a glimpse of history at the newest restaurant in Rouses Point. 

Melissa Baker opened The Squirrel’s Nest diner on Feb. 6. It is located at 90 Lake Street in the Village of Rouses Point, the former location of Old Tymes Cafe and originally Anctil’s Restaurant and Bar.

She remembers coming to Anctil’s and especially enjoyed the french fries. The new restaurant is just the latest addition helping to revitalize downtown Rouses Point.

“This place looked like it needed to be busy again,” Baker said.

The walls are decorated with copies of historic photographs and advertisements from Rouses Point, courtesy of village resident Benny Arno.

“People go down memory lane when they come here,” Baker said.

The plan is to offer old-style, simple favorites, a throwback to the diners long history.

“It’s been all good feedback. People are happy to hear we offer them home cooking,” she said.

Breakfast is available throughout the day. It includes a $2.99 special of two eggs, two pieces of bacon or sausage and two pieces of toast. Pancakes, French toast, breakfast sandwiches, omelets, eggs Benedict and several side orders are also available. 

For lunch, there are burgers, breaded or grilled chicken sandwiches, hot or cold deli sandwiches, hot plates such as a turkey platter or fish and chips, side orders and salads. Baker said there are two soups every day.

They will offer a Sunday brunch starting March 17, $7.50 for adults and $4.50 for kids. Plans call for eggs, sausage, bacon, home fries, pancakes, breads, coffee and tea.

The Squirrel’s Nest uses as many local providers as possible, such as Giroux’s Poultry and Lakeside Coffee. Those opportunities will increase when local produce becomes available later this year.

There are six employees, not including Baker. Debbie Fosher is the cook. Baker credits her with developing the menu and daily specials.

“She’s fantastic,” she said.

The diner takes pride in large portions, low prices and great food.

“You’re definitely going to get something good to eat for under $10,” Baker said.

They have applied for a liquor license and will open the bar once that is in hand, hopefully by the start of summer. Once the bar is open, Baker said she will probably offer a modified food menu for the evening hours.

She is also exploring whether to offer delivery service.

Renovations mainly involved cleaning the place, but she did re-install the upper wall between the bar and diner areas to reduce noise. They also installed a new floor from the front door to the kitchen.

The front features a picture window with the Squirrel’s Nest logo, framed by translucent glass blocks.

“That’s something very unique with this building,” Baker said.

She said the name is a play on the nickname given her by her husband, who calls her the squirrel because she is often scurrying around.

“It could be the Squirrel’s Nest Egg, for my retirement,” Baker said with a laugh. 

Baker and her husband, Village Mayor Francis “Bumper” Baker, also own and operate Bumpers Self Storage (1995) and The Last Resort lounge (2008), both in Rouses Point. 

She spent 37-plus years working at Ayerst/Wyeth/Pfizer in Rouses Point before she retired. 

Baker said she’s pleased with the reception the restaurant has received.

“We’re bringing in the locals,” she said. “That’s what I really want to see. They make you or break you.”

The Squirrel’s Nest is open from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily. Payment is by cash only, but there is an ATM available.

A Facebookpage displays menu updates and a variety of photos. For more information or to place a take-out order, call 297-6378.

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