Finding a silver lining

Darrell Cole
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Bembridge close to opening Breakfast at Brittney’s

Jeff Bembridge’s new restaurant in downtown Amherst is almost ready to open. Breakfast at Brittney’s will be located in the former home of the Amherst Police Department that was vacated after last August’s major downtown fire. 

AMHERST – Jeff Bembridge still remembers the utter devastation downtown following last summer’s fire at the Victorian Arms Apartments.

While some expressed concern about the fire’s long-term impact on surrounding properties and the downtown, Bembridge saw opportunity and decided to invest in a new restaurant in the former Amherst police station that was vacated the night of the blaze.

“Has it been easy? Not always, there have been some very long nights thinking about whether I was making the right decision, but now that I see it nearing completion I am happy that I made this investment,” Bembridge said Wednesday as he walked through Breakfast at Brittney’s.

Bembridge, who acquired the building from the town last November for $2 on the pledge he’d redevelop it within 120 days, has invested a lot of money in refurbishing the building that experienced considerable smoke and water damage and was slated to be demolished after the town accepted an insurance settlement.

The restaurant, that will primarily have a breakfast and light lunch menu, is expected to have a soft opening next week while Bembridge works out the kinks. He expects to be fully operational by the first of July.

He will also be able to add more seats to Duncan’s Pub as well as a quiet area where people can relax and watch TV.

Breakfast at Brittney’s will seat 48 comfortably and will be available for rentals after its 2 p.m. closing time.

The project, he said, was originally supposed to be completed by March, but he ran into some construction delays – some of which are related to the neighbouring project to rebuild the former apartment building.

Bembridge admits he has taken a chance in expanding his business, but said it was a risk to build Duncan’s Pub more than a decade ago – a decision he said he wouldn’t hesitate to repeat.

The overlying factor in his decision to develop Breakfast at Brittney’s, he said, is because he believes in the downtown and the need for a breakfast restaurant.

“The problem is when you tear down a building it’s often not replaced,” he said. “I want to go the other direction. Where some people see something that has to be demolished, I see an opportunity. Everyone’s always complaining at the town that they’re not doing this or that, but it’s the town’s responsibility to keep the streets clean, the lights lit and try to bring in some industry. But, it’s the people in the town who have the responsibility to make business work. They have to be willing to take a chance and nobody wants to do that anymore.”

Twitter: @ADNdarrell


Organizations: Victorian Arms Apartments

Geographic location: AMHERST

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Recent comments

  • Mike
    June 21, 2013 - 14:47

    Best of luck to you in your new venture, Jeff. I am sure you will do well!

  • Mike
    June 21, 2013 - 14:46

    Best of luck to you in your new venture, Jeff. I am sure you will do well!

  • Shelagh
    June 20, 2013 - 10:55

    Once again, Jeff, you have proven that you are the ultimate entrepreneur! Amherst is so fortunate that you chose to settle here and invest so much in this community. Thank you!!

  • Jack Frost
    June 19, 2013 - 19:11

    Good for you and wish you success in your most recent endeavor.