LEWISTON — Work on a restaurant in the old Grand Trunk depot on the edge of Simard-Payne Memorial Park is back underway with the former owner, Karen Pulkkinen, out and formerly silent partner, Stephen Dick, now in charge.

The new restaurant, expected to open sometime this year, will be called “Rails” and will feature farm-to-table cuisine with a Franco-American flair, according to Ileshea Stowe, public relations contact for the restaurant.

“We will have lunches, and we are still debating about having breakfast sandwiches to go,” Stowe said. “We’d love to be involved with the working professionals in the area and offer quick, efficient, delicious lunches.”

Stowe said the restaurant’s menu would be most similar to Yarmouth’s Gather, an upscale cafe.

“We want to have a seasonal, rotational menu based on what’s available locally,” she said. “We want to have and involve local producers. We want to use local farmers and local vendors as much as we can.”

Dick and his team are looking to interview local chefs and restaurant managers, she said.

“We are working with the CareerCenter and Central Maine Community College, and we are doing what we can to find local people,” she said.

The restaurant decor would still feature local photographs and memorabilia.

“We are trying to have the history of Lewiston and the Franco-American community in artwork on the walls,” she said. “We want to tell a story.”

The City of Lewiston issued a building permit Thursday to Dick, calling for $120,000 in renovations for the building. That comes on top of nearly $600,000 of work, including $380,000 of federal and local grants.

Stowe said she does not think a lawsuit over the property between former partners Dick and Pulkkinen would proceed. She said Pulkkinen is not involved in the project at all and declined further comment.

Pulkkinen declined to comment when contacted by the Sun Journal on Friday.

The building, at 103 Lincoln St., was built in 1874 and served as the landing spot for many of Lewiston-Auburn’s Canadian immigrants for years. It’s been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1979.

Pulkkinen has been trying to renovate the historic building for four years.

The City of Lewiston and the Lewiston-Auburn Railroad began paying for renovations there in 2010 with a $200,000 U.S. Department of Agriculture grant and $115,800 of Lewiston’s Community Development Block Grant allocation. The railroad itself has paid about $65,000 to renovate the building.

The railroad opened negotiations with Pulkkinen in 2011 to turn the building into a restaurant, but issues with water leaking into the building slowed the talks.

Renovation work wrapped up 2011, and Pulkkinen and the railroad signed the lease in October of that year, agreeing to pay $10 per square-foot per year for the roughly 2,100-square-foot space.

Dick filed suit in January, alleging that Pulkkinen had misused the $150,000 investment he’d made, paying off back debts to contractors instead of investing in the business going forward.

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