Empty and a bit forlorn for nearly four years after Friendly’s declared bankruptcy, the former restaurant on Sabattus Street this week began showing obvious signs of life.

It’s becoming a dentist’s office.

Yes, Dr. Peter Drews knows, that’s not quite what you were expecting.

Drews was on-site a lot last fall, ripping out booths and demoing.

“It was funny, so many very friendly people would stop in and go, ‘Is this going to be a cafe?'” he said. “And when I said it was going to be a dental office, they were going, ‘Oh, we were hoping it was going to be someplace to get lunch.’ I think I disappointed a number of people taking away the Friendly’s, but I’m really looking forward to the change.”

He’s been asked, in jest, if he’ll offer Fribbles.

Nope.

What the new Drews Dental Services will have: Better parking, expanded hours and more chairs. It means eventually expanding the practice to include a partner or an associate.

Drews’ current practice at 210 Sabattus St. relies on street parking and the ceiling in the basement is an inch shorter than he is. He’d been driving around, scouting for new space, and kept noticing 471 Sabattus St. The building’s owner in New Jersey tried to attract a new chain, “but nothing ever worked out,” Drews said.

Drews put in an offer and bought the building last fall. Drews, 6 feet, 5 inches tall, said he’ll renovate half of the basement to turn it into staff and lab space. On the main floor, he’ll expand from four chairs to six.

This week, contractors replaced all the windows. He hopes to be moved in this summer.

Drews bought the practice six years ago from Dr. Dan Bizier, who had been at the 210 address for 38 years.

“It’s going to be a great dental office,” he said. “It couldn’t have worked out better.”

City land for sale?

Last week, the Lewiston Planning Board gave an early yes to one business looking to buy city land and a no to another.

Lewiston Pawn Shop owner Rick LaChapelle had asked the city in February about buying four abutting lots on Lisbon and Canal streets, according to the Planning Board’s agenda.

The city acquired them for unpaid taxes and spent nearly $85,000 to knock the buildings in 2005.

LaChapelle wanted the space for extra parking for the pawnshop.

“Half the board wants to see it put back on the tax rolls, whether it’s used for parking or a structure,” City Planner David Hediger said. “I think the other half of the Planning Board said there’s a better use for this property than a parking lot, and whether it happens today or 10 years from now, if we own it, we’re in the driver’s seat as far as making that happen.”

Three board members voted to recommend the city sell; four voted against. The question is now off to the City Council, likely sometime in April, to see if councilors agree.

The news was better for Morin’s Machine Shop at 117 Commercial St.

Kevin Morin asked the city in March about buying 19,000 square feet of abutting city land to expand that business, according to the agenda.

“As far as I know, that’s been raw land that’s been part of the right of way,” Hediger said.

The board voted 7-0 in favor of recommending the city sell. If the council agrees, it will officially go out to bid. The board also recommended the city consider whether it’s worth more than an initial $5,000 to $10,000 appraisal.

“It’s potentially developable, even though it’s a tiny piece of land,” Hediger said. “It only makes sense to go to the abutter if we’re going to do this, but to follow policy we should be offering it to everybody and anybody out there.”

Quick hits about business comings, goings and happenings. Have a Buzz-worthy tip? Contact staff writer Kathryn Skelton at 689-2844 or [email protected]


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