Drip City Arcade Bar opened in January 2021 at the former Joseph’s Fireside Steakhouse in Waterville. The business is now moving to a downtown Waterville location and Buen Apetito is moving into its former West River Road location. Morning Sentinel file

WATERVILLE — Two of the city’s eateries are playing a game of musical chairs.

The owners of Drip City, a bar and arcade, announced this week they’ll be relocating to a downtown location this spring, perhaps at 129 Main St. Moving into their place at 99 West River Road would be Buen Apetito, a restaurant whose owners left their Railroad Square location last month following a parking dispute with the plaza owner.

One of Drip City’s owners, Andrew Chapman, said Tuesday that Buen Apetito initiated this series of moves. After the parking kerfuffle last month, owners Susan and Gary Laplant began actively seeking a new home for their Mexican restaurant, and quickly identified Drip City’s 99 West River Road location as a possible fit.

Susan Laplant said that the building has a larger kitchen, expanded dining area, and greater storage space than their location at Railroad Square, where they’ve been based for 20 years. They approached the building’s owners, and inquired after a lease.

Rather than perceiving Buen Apetito’s interest in their bar’s space as a threat, Drip City’s owners said they were thrilled for the opportunity. “We were locked into a five-year lease,” said Andrew Chapman, who like the Laplants owns the business with his wife, Amanda. “But our original intention was always to be on Main Street downtown.”

Buen Apetito restaurant, seen Dec. 10 with fencing surrounding it and the former Railroad Square Cinema in Waterville, is planning to relocate to 99 West River Road later this month. The restaurant’s owners left their Railroad Square location last month following a parking dispute with the plaza owner. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Chapman said that since he and his wife opened Drip City in 2020, just as COVID-19 restrictions on business operations began, it made more sense to opt then for a larger space in a less densely-populated area of town.


Now, with the Laplants assuming his lease and no more distancing requirements, Chapman can finally revisit his dream of a Main Street locale.

“Main Street in my childhood was a bunch of empty buildings,” said Chapman. “So the effort everyone’s putting into downtown Waterville is something that hits close to home.”

Since the Chapmans started Drip City with a downtown storefront in mind, a lot of their plans are already drawn up. The lease at their current location expires Jan. 16, at which point they’ll look to enter a new lease at 129 Main St. If all goes well with the city code enforcement officer, Chapman said, they hope to move in and reopen in April.

When Drip City first opened, Chapman said in an interview that he hoped the bar’s remote setting might mean people settle in and spend their entire evening at their place. He imagines their new space differently: slightly older, and more refined. With fewer arcade games (though he promises to keep a few) and a lesser emphasis on sit-down dining. In short, “a lounge.”

Morgan Fox, left, and Tayler Collins restock the bar Feb. 13, 2021, at Drip City Arcade Bar in Waterville. Morning Sentinel file

“It’s kind of something that doesn’t exist in the area: modern, sexy, clean lines,” Chapman said. He envisions people come to their lounge to “have a cocktail, maybe have some dessert afterwards. People pop in for drinks. Have a small bite on their way to the opera house.”

Chapman could not say how much the move to downtown might cost Drip City, but plans for some major renovations.

“We’re headed to where we were supposed to be all along,” he wrote on Drip City’s Facebook page, where the move has been well-received.

Susan Laplant agrees that this is a better fit. From Buen Apetito’s end, she and husband Gary are excited for those features Drip City’s owners are ready to shed, like the big kitchen and formal dining area. Laplant said Tuesday they’ll be able to open in mid-January as the place is “move in ready” and available from the 16th.

“We are very excited about our fresh start in this new location!” Laplant said. “We had a great 20 years at Railroad Square, but it was time.”

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