Skowhegan business owner says competitor has unfair edge

SKOWHEGAN (AP) – A restaurant owner says her business is doomed now that a nearby restaurant will be featured prominently in the upcoming filming of the HBO movie, “Empire Falls.”

Glenice Woodman owns Riverside Restaurant on Water Street, just down the road from Patrick’s Pizza Joint, which is being rebuilt as the Empire Grill for the movie.

Woodman said people in years to come will go to Patrick’s, rather than her restaurant, to eat in the diner where the likes of Paul Newman and Ed Harris once acted. “Empire Falls” is about the struggles of a hard-luck mill town and is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Richard Russo.

On Tuesday, Woodman stood outside her restaurant with a large yellow sign reading, “Save Our Community Restaurant Riverside.”

Several of her employees and some loyal customers carried signs of their own.

“Don’t let the movie production take our Riverside family and community businesses,” read one. “Rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Don’t let us suffer,” said another.

Liz Pratt of Skowhegan said she is a Riverside customer who believes that Woodman will be unable to compete with the newly renovated Empire Grill when it reopens after the film is done.

“I think it’s going to hurt her for a while after they’re gone. People will want to get in there, especially tourists,” she said.

Down the street at Patrick’s, set decorators and a construction crew put the finishing touches on the Empire Grill as Town Manager Patricia Dickey looked on.

Dickey said she doesn’t believe Woodman’s business will suffer in the long run, and just might benefit from being down the street from a diner created for the movie.

Lynn Kippax, the location manager for the movie, said Falls Films Inc., the company making the movie, has no desire to harm anyone’s business.

“I know everyone associated with the production wants and hopes that she succeeds,” Kippax said.

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