AUBURN — Keith Genest's grandfather had Bolley's Famous Franks, his father had Don's Famous Franks and his brother had Mike's Place, a chicken and seafood restaurant in Farmingdale.
Out of college, Genest, 33, opted instead for a career in corporate America. Two buyouts later, he changed his mind.
He opened KP's Place in late July. Its specialty: chicken and seafood, lightly breaded and cooked to order.
Even in health-conscious 2012, "there's still an appetite out there for this type of food, a big appetite, actually," Genest said. He's KP, Keith Patrick.
He renovated the former Beads Galore and More space in the 245 Center Street Plaza, leaving the kitchen open so he's free to mix with customers.
"I love that, that's my favorite part of this. I get to be part of the front house even though I'm out back," he said.
His sister, Chrissy Dumont, is operations manager. He has hired four people to start. Genest plans to hire more as business picks up.
He used to work in management at MBNA, then as regional vice president in sales for NotifyMD, both of which were bought out. When Genest started looking for a place to site his new restaurant, far enough away to not interfere with the family's other eateries, a friend showed him several properties in the Twin Cities. Genest said he liked the potential here.
He credited the Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments for help with a business plan and finding financing.
KP's Place has seating for 32 to dine-in, and Genest has purposefully kept things casual: There's no waitstaff, no tips. Diners bus their own tables.
The menu is full of fried chicken, haddock, shrimp, clams, fries and onion rings. He pointed to soups, seasonal chowders and grilled chicken for lighter fare.
Genest said the average wait time for an order is seven to 10 minutes, not that he expects many to wait: "Once it starts rolling, 70 percent of this business will be call-ins. That's lunch and dinner."
Genest lives in Sidney with his wife and young daughter. They hope to move to the area next year.
He has been up and down Center Street already leaving takeout menus at local businesses and is so far "very, very happy" at the reception.
"The most encouraging part is every single week is better than the previous week and that's all I can ask for," he said. "If you provide consistent, great food, people will come back and tell other people. The same is true of the opposite, though. If you make a mistake, they'll tell people as well."