New flooring went down last week in the old Polka Dot diner at the corner of North and South Main streets in White River Junction. Electrical work -- new outlets and a general upgrade -- is close to being done. Kitchen equipment started arriving this week, and over the next few weeks more will be coming in the door.
In other words, the new Phnom Penh Sandwiches Station is on its way. Back in May, proprietor Sarin Tin and Mike Davidson, whose Execusuite LLC owns the Polka Dot, announced that the popular Cambodian take-out spot would be opening a restaurant as well. They called themselves "proud to restore this beloved jewel of WRJ's past."
The kitchen: Not quite ready...
Since then, the work has mostly been behind the scenes, prepping the old building for its new life. The old countertop has been taken out -- a new one will jut a bit farther into the dining area, to make room for equipment and waitstaff. Finish work and the seating area are still a ways off.
Then, of course, there's the paperwork with the town and the state that still needs to be completed. And Sarin Tin says that the menu will have a few additions to what you can find at the Lebanon spot -- though not too many. "I'm trying to keep it short, simple, and fresh." He plans on a fall opening.
The payphone, says Execusuite's Tim Sidore, will probably have to go.
Tim Sidore, Execusuite's managing agent, says they're also considering one possible significant change: taking off the Polka Dot's brick facade and restoring it to the way it looked in the 1940s. That will depend on the town's approval, and may wait until after the restaurant is open. "One of the key tenets of redevelopment is understanding that things can be incremental," Sidore says. "Whether the facade is brick or not does not affect his opening."
The Polka Dot in the 1940's, before its current brick facade. Photo supplied by Tim Sidore.