New owners of Gippers Sports Grill, from left, Jon Fournier, Karen Sweetser and Jay Novella, stand Wednesday in the dining room of the restaurant and bar on Center Street in Auburn. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

AUBURN — Longtime owners of Gippers Sports Grill at 120 Center St., Dale Spugnardi and Tom Fournier, are officially retired and have sold the business to some familiar faces.

Former general manager of the restaurant and bar, Jay Novella, officially came out of retirement in Florida to resume his role about when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Earlier this year Novella, Fournier’s son, Jon, and former bar manager Karen Sweetser became the new owners.

The deal was effective Jan. 1, but the new owners had to apply for a liquor license with the state and city, which they did in July. The council approved the restaurant’s liquor license Monday night.

The newly remodeled banquet room is seen Wednesday at Gippers Sports Grill on Center Street in Auburn. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Novella said customers can expect no big changes to a formula that works. The banquet room has been freshened up and the bathrooms are being renovated.

The restaurant updated its website and is on Facebook now.

Gippers opened in 1989 and is home to the Auburn-Lewiston Sports Hall of Fame where all the induction plaques are displayed. Novella said they will continue to host the annual induction and related events.


The restaurant days and hours of operation remain the same.


A disassembled jet with its engines torn apart sits abandoned May 12 in the largest hangar at the Auburn-Lewiston Municipal Airport in Auburn. The airport is selling tools, equipment and other items left behind when Elite Airways abruptly left. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal file

Auburn-Lewiston Municipal Airport auction edges closer to goal of $75,000

Bids in the online auction of more than 400 items or lots of abandoned property left by Elite Airways at the Auburn-Lewiston Municipal Airport have surpassed $41,000 of the estimated $75,000 net the airport board said it projected to recoup.

The online auction is being conducted on and ends Monday at 1 p.m. EDT.

On Monday, the Auburn City Council formally approved the sale of abandoned property via the auction and other excess or unused property through the end of the year. The interlocal agreement governing the airport requires that both cities approve the sale of excess property valued at more than $1,000. Lewiston gave its approval last month.

Auburn also approved extending the maturity date of the loan for Hangar No. 5 from fiscal year 2034 to fiscal year 2036. In August 2014, the cities of Auburn and Lewiston provided a loan to the airport for its acquisition of the hangar built for Lufthansa’s Starliner project. When Lufthansa shut the project down and left Auburn, the airport asked for and was granted an extension to the loan from fiscal year 2027 to fiscal year 2034.

The airport still owes about $1.6 million.

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