Couple convert hobby to business

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WEST PARIS – Sporting a Red Sox baseball cap and wearing an apron, Carlo Berardis relaxed Thursday on a chair on the new wooden deck outside Barbara’s Chowder Barn on Route 26.

His wife, for whom their new seafood takeout business is named, brought out a plate of three foot-long chicken parmigiana submarine sandwiches that she’d made in their nearby house for workers who’ve helped turn the couple’s cooking hobby into a business.

It opens at 11 a.m. today, and is closed on Mondays and holidays. Closing time is 9 p.m.

“We’re not doing this to make a killing,” said Carlo Berardis, who has been cooking for 30 years and “loves to feed people.”

Their menu includes Barbara’s clam and fish chowder, Carlo’s stuffed quahogs and New England-style homemade clam cakes, fried dough, fish and chips, fried clams, fried calamari, fried scallops, fried shrimp, fried smelts, poached haddock, and spaghetti with clam sauce.

Additional menu items include seafood and Italian sandwiches, traditional hamburgers, hot dogs, sodas and more.

Orders are cooked fresh daily, including the chowder.

Local people will recognize the location and barn, which housed the former H&E Meats business that the Berardises bought from Herb and Esta Estes when they moved from West Greenwich, R.I., to West Paris a year and a half ago.

That business “fizzled,” Carlos Berardis said.

“There was not enough profit to keep the doors open,” he added.

It closed in March 2004, and Carlos Berardis went into the asphalt business, until now.

Neither are strangers to the food business. They owned and operated “full-blown” restaurants and a couple of bars in Rhode Island before retiring to Maine, he said.

“We love it here. Everybody is kind and polite, and we’ve had no problems,” he said.

Carlo Berardis also spoke highly of area code enforcement officer Shane Poulin, crediting him with helping them get the business going.

The couple, who have seven children and 18 grandchildren, decided to move to Maine after spending summers with Barbara’s sister, who has a camp in Upton. Barbara Berardis’ father was born in Sumner in what is now the town’s library.

They hope to fill a niche market, which Carlo Berardis says doesn’t exist between Bethel and Market Square in Paris.

For more information, call 674-2222.

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