Heritage House to Celebrate 30th Anniversary | August 2016
By Maria Landry
Family owned since 1987, Skowhegan’s Heritage House Restaurant is poised to celebrate its 30th anniversary in January.
It’s a major milestone—especially when considering that owner Cheri Savage and her late husband, David, moved to Maine in the first place to get out of the restaurant business.
“He was from Skowhegan, and I grew up in Texas,” Savage said from the elegant function room at the back of the Madison Avenue restaurant. “He went to Texas and worked for a restaurant company, and that’s how we met. We actually moved to Maine to get out of the restaurant business. He was going to work for his father, who owned an oil company.”
When asked what changed their minds, Savage said, “We missed it. … You get it in your blood. You meet so many people. We’ve been here so long that a lot of our customers have become good friends.”
The 19th-century Heritage House building once belonged to David Savage’s grandfather, Arthur Savage. After Arthur passed away in the early 1980s, David’s parents inherited the house and rented it out for a while before Cheri and David purchased it and transformed it into a restaurant. They added the bar and entry area to connect the function room, formerly a stable, to the main dining area in the house.
Today the Heritage House is synonymous with fine dining, and much of the food is locally sourced.
“We get the freshest foods that we can,” Savage said. “We hand-cut our steaks and try to get the freshest fish. It was really hard when we first opened, we could only get a delivery of fresh fish twice a week, so my husband would drive down and get it. Now they’re here seven days a week. I use Amy Rowbottom’s cheese [from Crooked Face Creamery in Norridgewock]. The blueberries I’m getting right now from the Smith farm [in Norridgewock].”
Catering is also a significant part of the business. While much of it occurs in the summer and fall, especially for weddings, the Heritage House offers catering year-round. Savage noted that she has seen an uptick in to-go orders recently as well.
“Five o’clock, the phone starts ringing,” she said. “People ask, ‘Do you do to-go?’ I say of course. [They say,] ‘That’s great, because we want to go home and put our pajamas on, but we really want the orange pasta and a filet.’”
The orange pasta—pasta, Brie, and smoked shrimp in an orange-basil sauce—and filet mignon are just two of the many options on the restaurant’s menu, which is complemented by nightly chef specials and fresh homemade desserts.
When asked what makes the Heritage House special, though, Savage doesn’t start with the fresh, local ingredients or the robust menu.
“I think the fact that we have a staff that’s been here a long time, and they know people when they come in,” she said. “I think it’s a warm, intimate little restaurant. It’s cozy and elegant but not stuffy. I do think sometimes having linen makes people think that we’re more expensive than we are, especially travelers. But if you look at menu prices from the chain restaurants to fine dining, we’re right in the middle. We’re not over the top. And it is a place that people want to come for their birthdays or their anniversaries.”
Speaking of anniversaries, what are Savage’s plan’s for the Heritage House’s big day on Jan. 18?
“I’ve been thinking about it,” she said pensively. “I was going through some menus, and I thought it would be really fun to take our first menu and for that day have that menu and those prices. We’d be pretty much giving everything away, but I think that would be fun to do.”