When life hands you lemons, you make lemonade. When life hands you a restaurant, you make good, old-fashioned comfort food. That is, not until you overhaul the whole place.
Lex Gibson (right) and Naomi Annable have been in full-on renovation mode for six months now, doing nearly all the construction work (and even some electrical) on their own. "We just want to create a nice home for everyone—and for ourselves," Gibson says.
That’s how it went for Lex Gibson, who about six months ago was handed the keys to L7, Jim Baldi’s former Elliewood Avenue Asian fusion spot, and given the reins to do as she pleased. When Restaurantarama first spoke to her in August, she was hopeful The Pigeon Hole, as she named it, would be up and running by the middle of that month. As it turned out, the building she inherited was itself somewhat of a, excuse the pun, lemon.
“We’ve been learning a lot about construction,” says her business partner, Naomi Annable. The women, who met while working at Dr. Ho’s Humble Pie, have put blood, sweat and tears into the space’s renovation, refinishing floors, retiling the bathroom, patching holes—and those are just structural improvements. The duo has big plans for the decor, too. They’ve handstained table tops and gathered a slew of mismatched white plates and silverware. Annable has amassed quite the collection of salt and pepper shakers, anything from a radish and cucumber-shaped set to a pair of roosters.
“If this fails,” Gibson says, “we could probably start a salt and pepper shaker museum.”
But let’s talk food. Restaurantarama got a peek at the menu: The all-day breakfast spot has plans to offer a $5 bag lunch (complete with a sweet note, just like Mom used to include), different kinds of sammiches (their word, not ours) and, for Sunday brunch, The Crabby Florentine, among other things. They’ll also serve fresh squeezed juices (carrot, apple and, coincidentally, lemonade) and authentic mint juleps. In other words, they’ve thought of every last detail.
“When you run a restaurant,” Annable says, “you have so many opportunities to touch people throughout the day.”
Adds Gibson, “You have the opportunity to turn someone’s day around. I just want [coming to eat here] to be an experience.”
The restaurant’s opening date (they hope for real this time) is January 18.
Light on its feet
One thing’s for sure: Folks in Orange County aren’t going hungry. Restaurantarama previously reported the opening of Vintage at the Inn at Willow Grove and, as of this month, Orange just gained another eatery: The Light Well, located in the old Rickett’s Drugstore Building at 110 E. Main St. It touts itself as “coffee, kitchen, tavern” and offers healthy, local and organic ingredients in original homemade recipes—including many veggie options.