Franklin Countys First News

‘Honest food’ – Salt & Pepper opens in Wilton

Salt and Pepper, and Sugar Too! opened in late July at 843 US Route 2 East.

WILTON - Mary and Don Beane love food.

Mary Beane got her start working in a summer camp kitchen, then worked as a waitress, finagled her way into a pastry cook position, then spent time at a series of well-regarded restaurants, including Arrows in Ogunquit and Fiddleheads in Farmington. Don Beane's father ran the Farmington Diner - Don worked there as early as 13 years old - and from there he went to the old Farmington Pizza restaurant in West Farmington in high school, leading into 30 years of experience cooking for the University of Maine at Farmington. The Beanes brought their decades of food and hospitality experience to an island resort on Belgrade Lake: training the staff, running the resort's kitchen and coming up with creative, delicious dishes.

Then they decided to start a brand new restaurant, utilizing the building previously inhabited by Athena's Pizza.

"We are crazy," Don admitted, "and that's why we love it so much. We just love what we do."

Salt and Pepper, and Sugar Too! offers a menu designed to appeal to everyone by serving well-prepared, creative dishes. Green Chili BBQ Pork, for example, features fire-roasted peppers and slow-cooked pork on griddled corn cakes; as many ingredients as possible are made in-house by the Beanes. Vegan offerings include Zoodles of Noodles - zucchini noodles in sesame peanut dressing with other vegetables and toasted sesame seeds. Don said that Salt & Pepper was a place that carnivores and vegans can meet, but Mary was even more inclusive: "there's a little something for everyone here."

Currently, despite employing roughly 25 people at the restaurant, the Beanes are cooking all the food themselves. They are aiming for what Don refers to as "honest food" - basic, favorable dishes prepared well. Their french fries, for instance, are blanched prior to being fried in peanut oil to make them extra crispy. Desserts are made with butter, not shortening, and Don says that you can taste it in the crust. Mary's mushroom pasta squeaks out as much flavor as possible.

Daily and weekly specials include the popular Grilled Cheese of the Day and feature local ingredients when practical. The Chicken-Fried Chicken Livers come from Pine Tree Poultry, for example.

The interior of the old Athena's Restaurant has been completely redone - down to the wiring and plumbing. There's a new kitchen, new booths in the dining area and new bathrooms. Mary and Don credited the community for stepping up to help: friends and neighbors, but also other local restaurants and businesses that contributed material and labor to help pull the new venture together so quickly.

"So many people helped," Don said, calling the response "heart moving."

The Beanes have worked hard to train their staff; one of the tenants of their business plan is having a good working environment. It worked in Belgrade Lakes, to a point where some of the island staff followed the Beanes to Farmington.

"If you're going to work hard, you might as well have fun doing it," Mary said.

Salt & Pepper had a soft opening in late July and a grand opening on Aug. 13, consisting mostly of a party for the restaurant's many helpers and some balloons out front. The new hours of operation, as of this week, are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Tuesday through Saturday. The restaurant does not take reservations.

Future plans include baking goods at the restaurant, a free office lunch program for patrons via drawing business cards out of a jar and a "recipe remake" event that will have the restaurant attempt recreations of customers' favorite dishes.

Mary and Don also plan on being active within the community. The restaurant will host a Cookie Palooza this holiday season, with a cookie decorating/purchasing event raising money for Western Maine Homeless Outreach.

Salt & Pepper can be reached at 645-7035.

The new dining room at Salt & Pepper.



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23 Responses »

  1. Looks (and sounds) amazing! Can't wait for date night!

  2. Amazing food cooked with a true love of food. Mary and Don's passion for it is infectious and I'm a terrible cook. She said she'd teach me if it killed her and I said it just might. I'm proud to be a part of this team. It's the most fun i've ever had working. I wish them many years of success!

  3. Can't wait to visit (and eat, of course)! So glad to hear of a new business in the area! Congratulations Mary & Don. See you soon ~

  4. This restaurant is a great addition to the community. Highly recommend it.

  5. Sounds wonderful! Best wishes for your success, Mary & Don.

  6. I went when it first opened not much pf a menu hope they add more too it.

  7. Mary and Don, your menu sounds interesting and the food will be consistent with only you two cooking. Thank you for bringing a new Restaurant to the area.

  8. Good luck! We can't wait to try it. Many pleasant memories of eating in that building.I hope it continues. Wilton needs another eatery with diversity for all!
    Best Wishes for Success

  9. Delicious food, wonderful staff, and highly recommend to everyone! Fantastic addition to our community.

  10. We've been there and the service and the food is excellent. Everyone is friendly, even when the place was packed and buzzing the other night. The food is delicious, good size portions, and reasonably priced. I am looking forward to going back to try some of the other entrees. Even the decor was fashionable and tastefully simple yet elegant.
    You won't be disappointed.
    Wishing Mary and Don success in this new endeavor, in this new expression of their love for fine food, good drink, and more importantly - good friends.

    We are so fortunate to have so many fine restaurants in our area - and nice to be able to move about and try different treats so that one keeps one's tastebuds stimulated and happy.

  11. Stopped by to try it out. Very friendly staff and the food was equally good. Brought family in from out of state and they were happy with the meal too. I'd definitely recommend it if you're in the area.

  12. Very nice restaurant. Food is delicious.. Service is great.. Recommend it for all.. Especially my gluten free friends In family.. You won't be disappointed.. Good luck to the beings

  13. I had been looking forward to going to this place long before they opened. There was such an out pouring of positive word of mouth! Not only did many people comment on what great food they both create, but what wonderful, caring people they both are. That matters so much!
    A friend of mine and I had lunch during their "soft opening" and everything was awesome, as Tim describes. Although I am not a vegan, I think it is great that this restaurant is striving to be all inclusive, and the entree was delicious!
    Very happy to see a busy parking lot when traveling by! Looking forward to my next visit.

  14. Congratulations Don and Mary,

    We have been twice now, and the food and service is wonderful. Has already become of go- to Date-Night
    restaurant. Love Don's calamari. Everything we have tried is delicious! and the staff is very pleasant and attentive.

    All the best! We will be in soon for dinner,

    Carol and Lance

  15. Went for Dinner after opening, food was great! Had a wonderful time, will be going back soon.

  16. Good luck, you two!!! Malcolm would be PROUD!!!! And yes, he'd think you're NUTS!
    Looking forward to my first visit.

  17. We've eaten there several times and the food is exquisite. It is obvious that Mary and Don love food. It is apparent in every single dish. We are all so lucky to have this gem in our community! Best wishes!

  18. Jim and I have been twice and recommend it to the masses. Wonderful food. Much luck to Mary and Don on this new venture.......

  19. This is not your typical frozen food resturant. I appreciated just looking at the menu. Thanks for not making food for the pallet of a 5 year old. I'll be back.

  20. Delicious! Thank you for having vegetarian options. Lovely atmosphere. Professional wait staff.

  21. My wife and her friend, Carole, ate there. They raved about the food! I can’t wait to eat there. Marie said that the grilled cheese was amazing!

  22. Congratulation Mary and Don Bean

  23. I had the pleasure of enjoying the most delicious luncheon prepared and served by S & P today. I am most anxious to drop in and try their new place of business. Good Luck, Don and Mary.