New operator sought for Robie's, a beloved Hooksett landmark
By HARRY KOZLOWSKI
Special to the Union Leader | September 25. 2013 11:14PM
Robie's Country Store has been a fixture in Hooksett for 126 years. The store will close Sunday. (COURTESY)
IT WAS AROUND 9 a.m. Wednesday and a few regulars were having coffee at Robie's Country Store. Some were waiting for proprietor Deb Chouinard to bring them breakfast.
A few moments later, the customer count doubled. That's how things go at Robie's — quiet one minute, busy the next.
If there was any sadness over the news that their favorite town hangout was closing at the end of the week, it didn't show — until you asked.
Almost on cue, two of Murray's friends arrived. "I'm going to miss this place" she said.
Robie's final day will be Sunday.
"Business is OK, not great," said Chouinard. "I don't have any help. I can't find anyone willing to do real work."
Dot Robie still lives about two blocks from the store that she and her late husband, Lloyd, operated until 1997. "The people who shopped there were our friends and neighbors," she said.
"They would blow their whistle when they were coming in," she said. "By the time they stopped, I'd have a fresh pot ready."
President Robert Schroeder said the corporation owns the building and its memorabilia. Since 1997, there have been three independent operators. David and Debbie Chouinard have run the store and cafe since 2003.
Robie's often gets more business from out-of-town folks than the locals.
The Ladies' Guild of the Holy Rosary Church in Hooksett made Robie's its spot to gather over coffee after Mass.
Peter Sartorelli of Bow, another regular and a friend of Edna Murray and the Chouinards, once owned Pizzarelli's in Concord. Sartorelli knows how fickle clientele can be, but as a restaurant owner he also loved the connections he made with his customers. "I like to talk with my customers," he said. "This is the kind of place to do that."