Our Maine Street's Aroostook Issue 5 : Summer 2010 - Page 39

Simmons has much more on the drawing board, though it has been slowed due to the downturn in the economy. “I have wanted to do a complete exterior modernization of the building facade, as well as improvements of the exterior grounds. We are still working on the structural design of the building, as well as material and color coordination. With the completion of the new solarium, I look forward to moving on to the exterior,” Simmons commented. The facility took on a family feel, following his purchase of the business ten years ago. Gram Russo’s Italian Restaurant is named for Simmons’ late grandmother, Marjorie Russo, and features many of her Italian recipes that Simmons grew to love as a child. “Gram was my inspiration for the dining area. I chose an Italian theme not just to honor my grandmother but to offer the community something different and previously unavailable in Aroostook County,” he said. “We realized what we needed was a truly Italian restaurant. I had a definite picture of what I wanted and I think it turned out great,” Simmons continued. “A lot of hard work went into the dining room’s design – attention was paid to every detail. We even have an Italian fountain, straight from Italy,” Simmons said. A kitchen remodel was completed to keep up with the increase in business. “We went right from the roof rafters to the floor joists. It was remarkable to see almost 40 years of history transformed into something more efficient and modern. All new energy-efficient equipment was purchased and the new design made for a more effective operation,” he said. “The food has a distinctive Italian flavor, with authentic dishes based on those made by my late grandmother. It has taken us a while to get it right and with the many influences of a number of talented chefs, we have a wonderful menu; Gram Russo’s has become the talk of the town,” said Simmons. Menu items include Gram Russo’s family recipes for marinara sauce and meatballs, lasagna and many other popular Italian dishes. With the completion of the solarium in February