Cloutiers sign Pete & Henry’s property over to town of Royalston

  • The parcel of land that once was home to the popular Pete & Henry's restaurant has been sold by the Cloutier family to the town of Royalston. Staff photo/Greg Vine

  • Roland Hamel, vice chair of the Royalston Selectboard, looks on as John and Tammy Cloutier sign over ownership of the former Pete & Henry's property in the South Village to the town. Staff photo/Greg Vine

For The Athol Daily News
Published: 9/23/2021 1:16:47 PM
Modified: 9/23/2021 1:16:51 PM

ROYALSTON — Letting go of anything that’s been in the family for five decades is never easy and, earlier this week, John and Tammy Cloutier experienced first-hand just how difficult it can be. On Tuesday, Sept. 21, the Cloutiers and members of Royalston’s Selectboard met to sign documents transferring ownership of the former site of the very popular Pete & Henry’s Restaurant to the town.

The small parcel, located in Royalston’s South Village, had been home to the eatery since it was established in 1946 by Pete and Henry Dufault. Pizza was the only item on the menu until the 1960s, when the restaurant was sold to Bill and Ginny Cloutier. Offerings were expanded to include a wide variety of foods, from chicken nuggets and fried clams, to fresh fish and frog legs. The eatery was eventually taken over by John, Bill and Ginny’s son, and his wife, Terry.

In August 2018, a fire reduced the restaurant to ashes, leaving a big hole in both the Cloutier family and in the community.

John Cloutier described Tuesday’s land transfer as “bittersweet.”

“The fire really hit us hard,” he said.

“Most of all,” added Terry Cloutier, “we really miss the people.”

In October, the Cloutiers will be moving to Florida.

At a town meeting earlier this year, Royalston voters approved the expenditure of $5,000 to purchase the now-vacant parcel.

Members of the Royalston South Village Revitalization Committee hope the land can be made into something that welcomes visitors to the village. Suggestions have ranged from the installation of benches, accompanied by attractive landscaping, to the erection of an informational kiosk pointing out the various attractions in the area, including hiking trails.

Committee members have also suggested the possibility of having restrooms built on the site.

At a July meeting of the Selectboard, RSVRC member Linda Alger suggested that the board may want to form a committee to weigh what’s best for the future of the site, but cost is likely to be an issue.

“I think we need a think tank to decide what’s the best route,” she said at the time. “I know that some of the ideas that have come up include solar — heating the bathroom with solar. The other idea that’s come up is doing a compost bathroom, like they do at the Johnny Appleseed (Visitor Center). Conservation and Recreation does it in a lot of the state parks, they have the compost toilets.”

She said some residents have expressed concern about the ongoing cost to the town of maintenance of restrooms.

At the time, acting on a recommendation from board member Roland Hamel, the Selectboard said it would hold off on creation of an advisory committee until the property was officially in town hands. That time has now arrived.

Greg Vine can be reached at gvineadn@gmail.com


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