Lakeshore House MaineThe Northern Forest Center recently awarded a $13,000 grant to the help the Lakeshore House restaurant, pub and hostel in Monson, Maine, improve energy efficiency, worker productivity, and customer comfort.

Located on the shores of Lake Hebron in downtown Monson, the Lakeshore House is a popular gathering place for local residents and seasonal visitors – and a source of jobs for more than a dozen people in one of Maine’s poorest counties.

Proprietor Rebekah Anderson has grown her business through pro-active management and hands-on involvement, for years working at least two shifts a day, 6 days a week as a waitress, cook, housekeeper or shuttle driver for the first 13 years while also caring for two young children. After 15 years in business, Rebekah — a former social worker — employs 10 people year-round with the number growing to 15 or 16 during the busy summer season.

“The personal lives of the staff matter a great deal to me,” said Rebekah, adding that she believes this leads to employees staying on longer than perhaps at other jobs. She said she has “a soft spot for young women and giving them employment opportunities when others may not.”

Support from the Center, provided through the Tourism Innovation Program, is helping Rebekah improve worker productivity, energy efficiency and customer satisfaction through installation of new refrigeration, food storage, and heating systems at the Lakeshore House.

She believes the upgrades will enable her to create a new full-time kitchen manager position, which will free her to “focus on events, menu updates, lodging upgrades, increased social media marketing and charitable projects.”

“Places like the Lakeshore House are more than just local businesses,” said Mike Wilson, senior program director for the Center. “They’re part of the fabric of a vital community: gathering places where locals and visitors can mingle and relax.”

With its downtown location on Lake Hebron, the Lakeshore House is surrounded by properties that have been purchased and renovated through the Libra Foundation’s arts-based destination development initiative. For Rebekah, this activity creates both an opportunity for growth and the need to upgrade amenities, service, and capacity to keep up with other improvements in Monson.

“We think investing in the good food, live music, kayak rentals, events and the welcoming atmosphere of the Lakeshore House is great way to help a local business capitalize on the all the activity in Monson and the Moosehead Lake region,” said Wilson.