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Area sports legends inspire new restaurant



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Jack Piatoni is the new manager of the soon to open Thanksgivings Restaurant and Ledgends Pub on Main Street. The pub will be located within the former Crabby Jack’s Restaurant. Jonathan Benton. (click for larger version)
October 27, 2010
GORHAM — A new restaurant and sports bar is soon to open on Main Street that is sure to be a central hub of sports aficionados considering the area sports heritage to be on display.

The former Crabby Jack's Mexican restaurant is under new management, that of Jack Piatoni who graduated from Gorham High School and formerly ran Wilfred's Restaurant on Main Street for 31 years.

With such a rich sports history in Berlin/Gorham, Mr. Piatoni is making the remembrance of 24 sports legends from the area to be a central theme of the Thanksgivings Restaurant and Ledgends Pub, spelled "ledgends" for the ledges that line the nearby river.

Each legend will have a nameplate on the backboard of each bar stool surrounding the bar counter. A few of the legends to be recognized will be Baseball Hall of Famer Rollie Goulet and sports writer Mike Gaydo.

Mr. Pitaoni credited the drive to honor area sports heritage as a way to keep alive the legacy of Berlin Reporter sports writer Mr. Gaydo who wrote local sports for over 40 years.

"This started because of Mike Gaydo, it's all because of him," he said. "There is not a single person more responsible or influential for Berlin and Gorham sports then him. He kept the community informed as to any and all sporting events and I'm looking to keep his memory alive."

Two of the main criteria for being in the running as a legend included level of achievement and popularity. The list of names varies from athletes to coaches, administrators, officials and team builders.

According to Mr. Piatoni all of the major sports are recognized with at least one legend from each sport: football, field hockey, nordic skiing, alpine skiing, hockey, baseball and basketball.

The bar counter is 70 feet long and each legend will have a two and a half foot space under the counter cover in front of their designated chair with newspaper clippings, pictures and a biography of that person.

Such sports artifacts already in Mr. Piatoni's possession and ready for display include Mr. Gaydos umpire mask and Barney Laroche's — played for the Berlin Maroons in the 1940's — hockey sticks fabled to have made at least a 100 goals each. Area historian Paul "Poof" Tardiff assisted Mr. Piatoni with his research on the legends.

Sherrill Tracey, who has coached Gorham skiers for 16 years stopped by to drop off a photo of her son Josh during the interview. Josh Tracey is the youngest member of the legends and was a three time All American in Alpine Skiing. "I think it's a great thing," said Mrs. Tracey on the sports bar museum hybrid.

Mr. Piatoni was able to afford the venture of renovating the building along side the cost of recognizing the sports legends through 24 business sponsors from the area that will be given credit on the chairs as well.

Mr. Piatoni said that he would also like to have other remembrances scattered around the bar and even on tabletops with team builders and unsung sports fans. One example would be Gorham boys' soccer Coach Bill Goodrich's mother, Marie Goodrich, who never missed a game.

Although a cook himself, Mr. Piatoni plans to focus more on managing his new venture, but did mention that they will serve a lot of "comfort food" such as turkey dinners, pot roasts and racks of ribs. Local buzz has been hungry for any news of Mr. Piatoni making any of his famous pastries and although that type of food is not a central item, he said any pastries served will be homemade.

Mr. Piatoni plans to have the new sports bar open in time for Thanksgiving on Nov. 25 serving breakfast and dinner six days a week and breakfast, lunch and dinner on Sundays.

Mr. Piatoni is looking for people to loan sports artifacts from the area to put on display that can be dropped off at the former Crabby Jack's building. Specifically he is looking for a pair of skis and snowshoes.

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