MIDDLEPORT — The beloved Basket Factory's doors are being opened again.
The iconic waterfront restaurant, taken over by Dawn Fox and Julie Reigle 15 years ago, was shuttered in 2012. It was difficult to keep afloat through the winter months, so, reluctantly, the sisters put it up for sale.
They haven't been able to find a buyer over the past four years, however, so they've decided to give it another chance.
This time around, Fox and Reigle say they have learned from their mistakes and they're changing some things. The restaurant will see shortened hours, especially during the winter months, a shortened menu, and discontinuation of the gift shop.
"Our hopes are that we do it right this time around and that we make no mistakes," Fox said.
The sisters say they are looking forward to putting heart and soul back into the restaurant. It was their father who had encouraged Fox and Reigle to revive the once-regionally famed dining establishment inside the old Royalton Basket Company, and it was him who backed them as they built their dream into reality.
With the Basket Factory's re-opening, Fox and Reigle plan to offer a lunch and dinner menu with a variety of appetizers and entrees prepared by chef Aaron Hurst, a Middleport native.
The restaurant will continue to host performances by local musicians on the outdoor patio, but this time around the talent will be soloists or duets playing soft music.
Hiring in advance of the reopening is nearly done. According to Fox, the restaurant already has a full wait staff and could use a couple more line chefs. Its application for a liquor license has been filed and the owners are are working on getting the kitchen and the business office up and running. Their target opening date is Memorial Day weekend, but at this point that's not a firm date; the opening could end up taking place during the first week of June.
Of the community's response to their news, Fox said, "The reaction has been overwhelming. The response is almost all positive. People are excited to have us back and it feels good."
Once it is open, hours of operation at the Basket Factory, 2 Watson Ave., will be: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and noon to 8 p.m. Sunday. For more information, or to book reservations, call 735-4207.
Contact reporter Rachel Fuerschbach at 439-9222, ext. 6246.