RUMFORD — In the cold of winter, Congress Street is showing a bit of life as a second new business will be opening its doors soon.

Connie Arsenault of Mexico is opening Connie’s Place at 136 Congress St., beside Liberty Tax Services, which began business a couple of months ago.

Arsenault grew up in the Rumford-Mexico area.

“When I was a kid, this was the place to be,” she said. “Congress Street was like the pinnacle; this was the city. And then the 9 o’clock whistle blew and all the stores shut down.

“Last spring, I was walking down here, and there were a lot of empty storefronts,” she said. “I just got to thinking. I was at the Town Hall and they suggested I contact Mrs. DiConzo (who owned the building). Her son, Dennis, gave me the grand tour (formerly Razzano’s Restaurant, then Chisholm’s) and then talking back and forth. We were able to work out a deal.”

Arsenault owned the Deluxe Diner on Oxford Avenue in Rumford for 10 years until she sold the restaurant in 2014.

From the time she sold her business, Arsenault said people have been encouraging her to get back into the business.

“Some said they missed me,” she said. “I was getting mostly positive feedback except for the people who asked me if I bumped my head. ‘You got out, why would you get back in?'”

“I really missed the people,” she said. “I really missed this business. I still have more to give.”

For Arsenault, being in the restaurant business in Rumford is home.

“I just love it,” he said.

Recalling her days at the Deluxe Diner, she said, “They kind of become your family. You’re keeping track of them. If someone’s not in for a couple of days, you call and see if they’re OK. Go see them in the hospital.”

“And then when I got broken into on Dec. 31, 2012, I couldn’t run (the business). I hadn’t a cent. I was on Facebook and really downhearted. I was just going to go home and to heck with this place. There weren’t any doors left on it because they cut the locks off. All my customers showed up with green money and coin money and said, ‘You’re not going to let them win.’ So, yeah — they kind of become your family.”

As for opening, Connie said she’s shooting for mid- to late-February, but said that things don’t happen that fast.

“At the very latest, I hope early March,” she said. “Just getting all my ducks lined up right now.”

The restaurant on the main floor has a potential seating for up to 60 people.

“I’m going to do a family style,” Arsenault said. “I want to do breakfast, lunch and dinners at least four days a week. I anticipate having beer and wine only, as far as alcohol. I don’t want to run a bar.”

From her days at the Deluxe Diner, Arsenault said she was most known for her breakfast offerings.

“I’m branching out,” she said. “I want a salad bar, going to have a nice Sunday brunch. This is going to be more of a casual place to go, where you can bring the kids.”

And the name, Connie’s Place?

“Not my idea,” Arsenault said. “My oldest daughter said, ‘Mom, it’s obvious. Use your name because everyone will know it’s you.'”

With the help of her son, Adam, the business will also have a Facebook page.

“I intend to use a lot of social media,” she said.

She said her husband, Jim, who retired the same year she sold the diner, will be assisting her as well.

Arsenault said that to start, she will hire people for at least four full-time and four part-time positions.

She said she’s aware of the large projects around the downtown in 2016 and 2017.

“I’ve been promised access, either back door or front door, throughout the whole thing, and (Town Manager John) Madigan assured me that the whole street could never be down at once,” Arsenault said.

A centerpiece of the restaurant will be an antique fridge/cooling unit, which is being brought back to life by Mark Thompson of Thompson’s Refrigeration in Peru.

“It’s going to be beautiful again,” she said.

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