LAKEVILLE — The once full parking lot at Hook & Spoon in Lakeville is now empty following the restaurant’s permanent closure in December.
“It is just really sad,” said Alison DeMarco, who owned the restaurant with her husband, Andy Penner, and business partner, Derek Robertson.
The coronavirus pandemic and restrictions placed on dining and other business meant to slow the spread of the virus have not been kind to restaurants. At Hook & Spoon, limits on indoor dining made staying afloat a difficult prospect.
“I would not say this past summer was easy but we definitely made the best of situation. It was not a horrible year for us, it just was not enough,” said DeMarco.
DeMarco and her partners opened Hook & Spoon in August 2017. Together, they had hoped their love of delicious food and Conesus Lake would become a winning recipe.
“Most restaurants take three to five years to know if they are going to succeed or not and this was just the wrong time,” DeMarco said.
To complicate matters, said DeMarco, the partners had trouble making something called a balloon payment, which is essentially a larger-than-normal loan payment that comes due at the end of a loan’s term.
“We had a balloon payment that we had to pay and it was difficult with COVID for sure,” said DeMarco. “We thought that we had the financing secured for Canandaigua National and right before the election what their investors allowed them to do changed and we had to switch banks, so that made us late in achieving the financing that we needed.”
About a week before Christmas, DeMarco said the restaurant was forced to close for good.
“It is just a horrible situation. My family is devastated and all of our employees are devastated,” she said. “It is the worst thing that has happened to me in my life.”
In addition to losing the restaurant, DeMarco said her family could also be losing their home because it’s on the same property as the Hook & Spoon.
“It is the worst thing that has happened to us,” Demarco continued. “It has left us completely rattled, disgusted, sad and homeless. We lost our home over it. We still live on the property and trying to find a place to live during a housing shortage is proving to be extremely difficult.”
It is a situation that DeMarco said has also angered many people in the community.
“We had outrage. We had local businesses that came together and made a video for us. We still get people everyday that are upset about it,” she said. “We had a lot of support.”
In the video, DeMarco and Penner described how COVID-related restrictions were impacting their business and, it appears, asking for investors to keep the restaurant afloat.
DeMarco said she’s hoping to get continued support from the community and is hoping to reopen her other restaurant soon. DeMarco and Penner also own The Rabbit Room in Honeoye Falls.
The opening of the Hook & Spoon was part of an expansion plan of The Rabbit Room. The original plan was to open a brewery but, after seeing the lake, things changed a little.
“When we saw that property we decided to shift gears a little bit and we really loved it,” said DeMarco. “It had a comfortable atmosphere and was very relaxed. It is all about that beautiful view of the lake.”
As for The Rabbit Room, DeMarco said it will likely reopen “but with COVID-19 restrictions that maes a wedding business pretty hard.”
“We will have to re-brand it,” she said. “We do have site plan approval to add residential to that building, so we are kind of working on that ... we are just ready to move on. We are just trying to pick up the pieces of our lives. It has been devastating.”