FITCHBURG — After recently opening a consignment shop the Emporium downtown in July, business owners Shireen Flowers and Elisabeth LeBlanc are now ready to unveil plans for a healthy, upscale diner next door.
The new restaurant, to be called the Queen Bee, is currently in the early stages of planning but Flowers says if everything goes well the diner could open as early as October.
The diner would be located at the former location of the Local Spot/TJ’s BBQ.
Flowers, a Leominster resident, says her love for cooking inspired the idea for the diner, adding that she once ran a personal chef business.
“I’ve always wanted to get back to cooking and the restaurant next door was empty so we figured why not open a diner here,” said Flowers.
Queen Bee will offer about 40 seats for dining and the Flowers anticipates having an open, airy, and upscale floor plan that emphasizes comfort.
Unlike many other local breakfast and lunch options in the area, Queen Bee will offer healthy meal options, sourced from local farms.
“It’s nice to have an alternative for someone who focuses on a healthier lifestyle,” said Flowers.
The plan is to offer healthy options to patrons while also serving up the basic menu options that people love, she said. “We’ll offer a variety and I think we’ll be able to cater to everyone.”
LeBlanc, from Greenville, New Hampshire, says they plan to also offer reservation only brunch service each Sunday.
The pair say they are focused on providing a service to the community by holding monthly fundraising “Consign and Dine” events in partnership with local non-profits. Being a positive influence on the area is important, says Flowers.
For example, Flowers said she was interested in holding a fundraising event for some Batter Women’s Resources. The diner and consignment shop could make a difference for many women, she said.
Flowers and LeBlanc say there is a demand for quick-bite dining option in downtown Fitchburg, especially with the student population at Fitchburg State University.
LeBlanc said she hopes the success of the Emporium and the opening of the diner shows that business can succeed downtown. Additionally, she says bringing more diverse culinary options will bring more people, which in turn will support local retail shops.
“It’s a circle,” she said. “I’m excited to see an increase in traffic down here and I’m excited to see the store fronts fill up.”
To fund the project, Flowers and LeBlanc have turned to a small-business investment platform based out of Salem known as MainVest.
The platform, according to representatives, is a crowdfunding resource that allows community members to make investments in local businesses.
“I’m big into crowdfunding,” said LeBlanc.
“People are investing money back into the community and that’s really what the overall goal for all of our businesses is. We want this space for the community to come together.”
Flowers said crowdfunding the capital for the project was a no brainer, adding that she liked the idea of people investing in their own community.
“This is our first business to launch in Fitchburg, and we’re excited about the opportunity,” said MainVest Community Manager Isabel Strobing. “Queen Bee will be a great addition to Main Street and it’s great to see the community so involved.”
Information about Queen Bee’s investment campaign can be found at mainvest.com/businesses/the-queen-bee.
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