Augusta’s meeting place: The Riverfront Barbecue & Grille
Alyssa Lazaro, a food server is a UMA student, and single mom who wants to become a teacher.
Article & photos by Ramona du Houx
Augusta is moving its economy forward. Target, Best Buy, and others have opened. The Arsenal stands ready for renewal with renovation by Niemann Capital investments. Niemann has opened a business office at the site. Hannaford chose downtown to open its first LEED certified green store, which will even have plants growing on its roof, be used as a green educational center and a model for their other stores.
“The timing is right for Augusta; without a doubt these next couple of years hold enormous opportunities for people looking to open a business downtown. It’s extremely affordable, and it’s only going to go up over time,” said Patrick Quigg. “These big stores wouldn’t have chosen the city if they didn’t have good reason to do so. Augusta is becoming a shopping mecca. It’s an exciting time to own a business in this city.”
Patrick- owner of the Riverfront talks with a patron
When he and his brothers decided to start a restaurant, he saw what was obvious to him — there weren’t any great BBQ restaurants in the state. “It was a wide-open niche,” he said.The Riverfront Barbecue & Grille is located in the heart of Augusta’s downtown. As you drive north on Water Street, it’s the first landmark of the city, helping to define the character. The impressive steel structure of the Augusta Bridge can be viewed from the restaurant’s windows.Many have known the restaurant under its former name of Beale Street. In a seamless transition, Quigg changed the direction of his new establishment. The two other Beale Street Restaurants are still run by Patrick’s brothers. “The Barbecue has proven to be a success and has a following. I’ve expanded the menu at the Riverfront to offer more variety like steak and risotto. Now there is something for everyone,” said Quigg.
It’s one thing to identify a niche, it’s another to actually make it work. The restaurant’s barbecued food actually falls away from the bones and melts in your mouth. The smoky flavors really come through. The BBQ experience is where the Riverfront excels. Quigg also prides himself with a diverse menu that really does offer something for everyone, including some hot and spicy items.
All the recipes are made from scratch. The ingredients are bought locally, and Patrick believes that being part of the community, buying local goods and using local businesses, is an imperative ingredient to owning a successful business. “It’s critical. We get in local produce and dairy. At every chance we get we buy locally, as long as it’s cost effective. It’s important to me,” he said. “It’s a no-brainer to spend money where you make your money. With a big-box store 95 cents of a dollar goes out of state. It’s important to spend where we live.”
The welcoming ambience and community friendliness makes the restaurant a destination for anyone. Some patrons travel from Gardner or Waterville, and beyond, because they know the quality that they can expect and look forward to the easygoing atmosphere of the gracious, attentive staff.Quigg intends to expand the restaurant to the second floor, opening a new 35-foot martini bar with live blues and jazz, equipped with Internet facilities.
He trains each member of his staff individually. “To train everybody takes more work but I love to teach. It also makes a huge difference in quality,” said Quigg, who lets his team know when they have done a great job. “They take pride in what they do. They are a great bunch of people.”
All his life Quigg has been involved in restaurants. As a high school student in Oakland, he earned extra money in a restaurant. At twenty he became a bartender to help pay for college. For a number of years he lived in Washington state, Philadelphia, and points in-between. At each stop important avenues opened up for him that built upon his restaurant experiences. In Washington he worked at a steak/chop/oyster restaurant that served hundreds. Then he stepped into the movie-catering scene. “In the movie businesses its hurry up and wait. So a lot of the cast and crew would look forward to what was for lunch. It was a challenge working six days week, at all hours,” said Quigg. “It was a great experience.”
He didn’t have a clue that he would end up back where he began.
“I consider myself fortunate to have a great business and to be able to do what I love, ironically in the community I grew up in,” said Patrick. “The strong support of the City of Augusta, from the mayor to the council has been wonderful. I see this restaurant as an anchor for this street, for the community. Augusta is a destination now.”