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Troubles 'melt away' at new Tilton restaurant

The Fourniers sit for a family photo in front of one of the fireplaces in The MeltAway. Meghan Siegler. (click for larger version)
January 27, 2010
TILTON — They came looking for a lake house but instead bought a colonial-style building along Route 3, and instead of moving the family in, they brought in all the accouterments needed for a new ice cream and sandwich shop.

And thus, The MeltAway Creamery & Sandwichery in Lochmere was born. Owners Jeff and Amy Fournier live in Chester, and in looking for a home a little closer to the lakes, they stumbled upon a building that used to house a fencing company. Amy Fournier immediately saw its potential as an eatery that could serve ice cream on one side and sandwiches on the other.

"This sort of restaurant thing we've always talked about," Jeff Fournier said.

The MeltAway, so-named because the Fourniers are striving to make it a location where people's worries can melt away, officially opened Jan. 5. It was a slow opening with little advertisement, because they "didn't want to screw up."

The Fourniers come from the corporate world, with Jeff Fournier's background in data analysis and project management and Amy Fournier's background in corporate technology and sales management. It was the long commutes to Boston and the hours spent in offices away from their three daughters that prompted the couple to head in a new direction – literally and figuratively.

"It wasn't gratifying anymore," Amy Fournier said.

Though they still haven't bought a house in the Lakes Region, ultimately that's the goal, and once the restaurant is fully operational, they'd eventually like to play a more behind-the-scenes role and free up some time to spend with their children.

"We've missed whole days with them, invested whole bunches of their college dollars, worked long hours beyond their threshold, and have missed precious moments with them," the Fourniers wrote as part of their menu. "(We've) invested much of our future and our children's future in this joint."

Kailee, 6, Abby, 3 ˝, and Leah, 18 months have been spending long days with their nanny, which the Fourniers admit is not ideal but is necessary as they get the business going. They're hoping the journey to create The MeltAway will ultimately create the lifestyle they crave for their family and a positive dining experience for other families.

Reflecting their family values, The MeltAway incorporates kid-friendly meals and ice cream into its menus, and the laidback setting includes fully functioning fireplaces in the winter and an outdoor farmer's porch with ceiling fans for warmer months. There will also be plenty of picnic tables and parking spaces to comfortably accommodate families big and small.

"The MeltAway is about enjoying family," Jeff Fournier said.

Plenty of extra space, both inside and out, will be conducive to the future plans the Fourniers have in the back of their minds. Though the rooms upstairs are mainly being used as an office and a playroom right now, the Fourniers said that in the future, the business will likely expand to those areas. There's a shack behind the main building, too, that would be perfect as a rib shack, Jeff Fournier said. And with nearly 300 acres of land, the possibilities are endless, they said.

"What we can't do is too much at once," Jeff Fournier said.

That includes a menu that offers classics like slow-roasted, hand-carved turkey and roast beef sandwiches made on "killer" homemade breads ranging from sourdough to oatmeal to French rolls. But already the menu is changing; customers have asked for tuna fish, and the Fourniers have already accommodated that request – as they will any other suggestions that are recurrent and plausible. If cartain products aren't selling, the Fourniers will make changes as well.

The MeltAway's menu also includes homemade soups, salads, and burgers, plus several vegetarian selections. The kids menu features grilled cheese, hot dogs, and peanut butter and jelly.

On the ice cream side of the restaurant, the menu features 24 flavors of Shane's of Maine ice cream, with more to come in the summer. Customers can choose from cones or cups, sundaes, frappes and other frozen treats. So far, customer reaction has been positive, both to the renovated building itself and the menu, the Fourniers said.

"I love it," customer Jodi Sardinha said of The MeltAway's atmosphere. "I'm a huge fan of period things like this."

The MeltAway is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. More information can be found at themeltaway.com.

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