WEST PARIS—C.N. Brown is set to buy the Trap Corner Restaurant in West Paris—and then likely demolish it.
“We would like to do that but it’s not a done deal,” Jinger Duryea, president of C.N. Brown Company, said by phone last week.
The sale is pending, according to Monica LaVerdiere of Barefoot Realty in Oxford, though she didn’t reveal the buyer.
Duryea said the possible purchase isn’t to expand the Big Apple store at that location, though C.N. Brown is currently remodeling its Big Apple location in Poland to include a McDonald’s in addition to a much larger store.
“If anything it’s [to expand] the diesel aisle for trucks,” Duryea said.
That could mean tearing down the Trap Corner Restaurant. Though the building has been unoccupied for many years, memories of its predecessor, the Trap Corner Store, are still very much alive.
“It was just a friendly place, everybody knew everybody,” said Lillian Robbins, who owned the Trap Corner Store with her husband, Richard, for almost 15 years. “Well, it was a truck stop. It wasn’t a fancy restaurant.”
She and her husband worked at the Coop Store, now the West Paris General Store, before they came to own the Trap Corner Store in 1970.
“He come home to me and said they were going to sell out Trap Corner and wanted to know if I would go with him and take over Trap Corner,” Robbins said.
She did, and when the couple bought the place from Dickie Baker, who bought it in 1950, they wanted to keep it as it had been when it originally opened in 1933.
“We kept it the same,” she recalled. “We added a little bit more, because we dealt in rifles and handguns, we had clothing. Oh God, we dealt in most everything, hardware. Then we had a meat counter plus we had a full grocery store, your kitchen and a lunch counter. … You had your truck drivers, you had your loggers. At this time of the year, your forestry service guys, game wardens, state troopers. This is what we had for customers and you know your local people.”
One of those local people was Joyce Hathaway, of West Paris.
“It used to be great, we bought an old farm in the early ’80s on Andrews Road and we used to go down in the morning and have coffee while we used to try and heat the place up,” Hathaway said. “We used three stoves [in the house] and we still couldn’t get it above 50 degrees, so that’s how I got started going to Trap Corner. You met a lot of people and heard a lot of stories and things.”
She and her husband used to carve decoys that were sold at the store.
“It was fun, we carved birds and we had them in there for sale and for people to look at it was just always great fun. It was a place to go for coffee and then later on they had a regular restaurant but I don’t think they ever did as well,” Hathaway said.
What Hathaway remembers most of all about Trap Corner is the people. The spirit of that community is something she and her friends have been trying to find since it closed.
“I’m 84 and I still go to Mallard Mart in the morning and we have a group that come in just the same as it used to be but not as many,” she said.
After the Robbins’ sold the store in 1984, Lillian said the new owner, Lloyd Poland, made changes that led to its downfall—including closing the store.
“He dropped the hardware. He dropped, let’s see, all the hunting equipment, all the fishing equipment,” Robbins said. “He knocked out everything, he knocked out the grocery store, if they had just left it the way it was as a truck stop. That was not meant to be a high-class restaurant.”
Though Duryea didn’t say as much, West Paris Town Manager John White said that he thinks C.N. Brown means to demolish the Trap Corner Restaurant. Plans to expand the diesel operation would be allowed, he said.
“I believe, they’re close to the river and it is [a] shore land zone,” White said. “They need whatever approvals are involved for that, but it is a business district so things like that are allowed.”
And, he laughed, he hopes it would renovate The Big Apple to include a Dunkin’ Donuts. And yet, a corporate coffee shop could never replace the Trap Corner Store. Robbins said her favorite thing about operating it was meeting people.
“I loved working there because I loved all the people that came in, and a lot of people were friends of ours that came in every day, we knew ‘em all,” she said. “There was a lot of good memories in that store and we met a lot of nice people.”