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Blanche and Bill’s Pancake House to reopen June 15

BRIDGEWATER  CORNERS - Just in time for summer, Blanche and Bill's Pancake House will be reopening in mid-June.
Co-owner Andrew Geller said a number of things, ranging from Tropical Storm Irene to caring for his mother near the end of her life, has delayed reopening. Except for a two-month period at the end of 2011, the restaurant has been closed since Tropical Storm Irene blew through.

"Everyone's been calling us," Geller said. "We're very excited."

Geller said he had "lost that happy glow to the point where I couldn't cook anymore" after his mother was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. Geller felt he had to go to her.

"I needed to do it," he said. "When Mom got sick, I decided to spend the rest of her life with her, so we went to California. It was the most gratifying time of my life."

Flooding from Irene forced Geller to completely modernize his kitchen facilities: now the restaurant has new refrigeration, steel food preparation tables, new dining area tables and chairs made from Vermont wood, new griddles, and a new deep fryer, among other enhancements.

Geller has also decided to greatly expand the menu.

"When Bill and Blanche had the restaurant, they were rather rigid," he said. "No fruit on the waffles, no omelets. I'll introduce omelets, and we'll be making our own hashes. We'll be brining our own corned beef, and make our own smoked salmon hash."
Lunch offerings will be growing in variety as well.

"The old menu was a little limited," said Geller. "Ham sandwiches, BLTs. We'll have Philly cheesesteaks, daily specials, and start offering mixed green salads."

Also returning, by popular demand, will be Tuesday night suppers.

"It'll be Southern fried chicken dinners with sides," he said. "We'll also have alternatives, like pork chops. I expect to do a lot of slow-cooked food, like maple baked beans, and we'll be offering Southern grits."

Some may wonder with all this new activity and ambitious menu plans, why the restaurant is for sale. Geller said that doesn't mean he plans to abandon the community. Far from it.

"Our neighbors have been wonderful, they're the nicest people we've ever met," Geller said. "After Irene, everyone brought us casseroles. "

The real reason Geller and his wife Francia want to move is their toddler's safety.

"Our house is attached to the restaurant," Geller said. "We have a three-year-old. We had a horrific car accident on Route 4, requiring helicopters, and there's a river behind the restaurant. Between the road and the river, something might happen, and we'd rather not take the chance. Also, we can't afford two properties."

If the restaurant does sell, Geller said he'd like to farm for a while: raise some animals and produce.

"I'd like to do farm-to-table," he said, "and then I'd like to open another restaurant. I've been cooking for 28 years."
Francia is a full partner, waiting on tables and keeping the books.

"I'm terrible at that," Geller said. "Francia is very excited about reopening, to see our customers again and welcome everyone back."

Not only that, Geller plans to start hiring soon.

"We'll be looking for some help," he said. "We'll need a weekend cook, dishwashers, and a bus boy."

The restaurant will be open from Thursday through Monday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., and for the Tuesday night dinners from 5 to 8:30 p.m.

Geller said he will post the new menu online sometime this week at the restaurant's website, blancheandbills.com.