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Wolfetrap founder passes the baton but keeps the fish market



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AMY AND JIM McDEVITT, new owners of Wolfetrap, plan to reinvigorate the restaurant and have already made a few menu changes. (Rheanna Bellomo photo) (click for larger version)
June 24, 2010
WOLFEBORO — Wolfetrap Grill and Raw Bar on Bay Street in Wolfeboro has undergone more than a few menu changes. In May, for the first time since its establishment 12 years ago, Wolfetrap opened for the season with new owners – Jim and Amy McDevitt of Medfield, Mass.

Former owner Barbara Naramore and her late husband John opened Wolfetrap in 1998, in the hope of creating a community restaurant that mimicked their favorite vacation spots on the water. Present owners Jim and Amy McDevitt hope to expand Wolfetrap's connection to the community and also put their own twist on the traditional New England fare. "This is an opportunity for us to do what we do best," Jim McDevitt said.

Together, the McDevitts have more than 20 years experience in the restaurant and catering businesses. For 15 years the couple owned Jimmy's Café, an American bistro in Medfield. For five years before that, they ran a catering business exclusively for production companies creating music videos, movies, and commercials in Boston called Jimmy's Catering.

"We decided to sell the café last year. The area we were in was becoming filled with chain restaurants and we wanted to keep our local feel. We've always thought this would be a good place to come," Jim said.

The McDevitts met Naramore last summer through a connection of family and friends in the Wolfeboro area and discussed the idea of buying the business. By spring, it was official.

"It takes a unique person to take it over. I have confidence in them," Naramore said.

Before Wolfetrap served oysters on the half shell, it was known as Wolfeboro Marina and housed wave runners and kayaks. Barbara Naramore, originally from Cape Cod and in the restaurant business her entire life, was interested in creating a raw bar on the water in place of her husband's rental garage.

"He showed me the property and I said, 'Oh my God, that is a raw bar.' I wanted to have a place where there were lobster rolls that filled both hands, and where you could listen to reggae bands and have beer and oysters," Naramore said.

In 1998, the space was converted into a restaurant, followed by a fish market and catering company, Wolfecatch, in 1999. The rental garage was rebuilt and renamed Wet Wolfe Rentals. Together, Naramore and her husband created their "wolfe" brand.

"Wolfetrap is a combination of all of the places we loved. In Bermuda, the White House Tavern. In Key West, our vacation house. In Martha's Vineyard, our home. And all the food we loved became our menu," she said.

Even when Naramore's husband passed away four years ago, she never planned on selling the restaurant. When she was approached by the McDevitts, she realized that it may be time. "And it is time. It's time for someone else. It's like passing the baton," she said.

Naramore continues to run the rest of the wolfe brand businesses, including Wolfecatch fish market, which also provides catering services, take-out dishes, and will soon expand to brick oven on-site cooking. "This is my contribution to Wolfeboro… my husband's legacy," she said, tearing up. "I want to keep that going."

The McDevitts said their plan is to reinvigorate the restaurant. The couple has already made a few changes to Wolfetrap's menu, including lighter fare options and a bit more reasonable pricing. "We want to cater to the tourists but we also want to listen to the locals and give them what they want," Jim said. As the restaurant's chef, Jim has incorporated a multitude of cooking styles in his new dishes. He described this as fusion cooking and explained that one dish can include Asian, Italian, and French influences.

The couple also plans to expand the use of the restaurant's pavilion and book weddings, reunions and other private functions, with the aim of becoming an even larger part of the community.

"It is hard to see someone else living your dream. All you can do is hope they know how to live it, hope they can see what you saw and what made you create it in the first place," Naramore said.

Wolfetrap, at 19 Bay St., is open daily from 11 a.m. "till the wolfe howls." For more information, call 569-1047. Wolfecatch, at 31 Bay St., is open daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.. For more information, call 569-9900. Both, along with other wolfe brands, can be found at www.wolfetrap.com.

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