Iconic restaurant property getting new identity . . . with a nod to its past

Lake Point Grillhouse & Lounge will debut later this spring, in the shell that was the Chipican

Just a few months ago, Dean Frayne found himself driving near the corner of Michigan Ave. and Christina Street N. when he felt compelled to turn into the parking lot at one of Sarnia’s iconic restaurants, the Chipican. What caught his eye was a FOR SALE sign on a property that had enticed steak-loving customers for more than 60 years but which had been closed for a couple of years.

Frayne and his wife Laurie were already running the Court Cafe and Catering, a facility they were leasing at the Sarnia Courthouse, but they were looking for something a little bigger.

Kevin Frayne, left, and his parents Dean and Laurie, are pictured in front of the Pit, one of the original features of the former Chipican restaurant they’re renovating.

A few days later, Frayne got wind of another opportunity, that being the sale of contents at Razzers, a defunct restaurant in Corunna.

The Fraynes ended up with successful offers on both the Chipican property and the restaurant contents, leading them to put together a business plan and total renovation project for what will soon be Lake Point Grillhouse & Lounge, a 200-seat family restaurant that they expect to open later this spring.

As for the name, Laurie Frayne said she’d gone through dozens of potential ideas before coming up with a combination of the original street names (Christina St. was Lake Road and Michigan Ave. was Point Edward Road), discovered after their son Kevin had found a news clipping published on what was the 60th anniversary of the restaurant in November 2008.

In at least two significant areas, the Fraynes have chosen to pay homage to the original restaurant, notably retaining the grill searing Pit. They’ve also retained parts of the original check out counter, which they expect will evoke positive memories.

Everything else is a modern rendition of an eatery that highlights a menu of steak, chicken, ribs and barbecue. The Fraynes will present a “family friendly” breakfast and lunch menu and a dinner offering that’s both comfortable and a little more upscale. The Fraynes say they will also be featuring charcuterie boards (a trendy combination of meats and cheeses that is taking off in the restaurant world.)

What won’t be included is the noisy atmosphere of a sports bar that can sometimes make conversation difficult.

“Sarnia doesn’t need another sports bar,” says Kevin Frayne, who is a co-owner with his parents.

Look for a place where you can come to eat a pleasant meal in a relaxed atmosphere. The owners say the idea of an outdoor patio is something they may tackle next spring.

A handicap accessible bathroom will be available when the restaurant opens along with bathrooms downstairs.

Lake Point Grillhouse & Lounge will be open six days a week, closing on Mondays.

Even as they plan a job fair near the end of April, working through Goodwill, Dean Frayne says people with years of experience in the restaurant industry have dropped by to indicate an interest in working at the new Lake Point Grillhouse & Lounge.

“None of this would have been possible without the incredible amount of help we’ve received from friends who have rallied to support us,” said Laurie Frayne.

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