By Matt de Simone
Regulars of the beloved North Star Restaurant may be aware of the recent news. To those who may not frequent Buchanan’s esteemed establishment, she isn’t going anywhere.
Recently, Ashley Clark, an employee of the North Star for almost 20 years, purchased the North Star Restaurant from the longtime owner, Debbie Painter.
Sound familiar? For those who remember the last sale of the restaurant, it does.
Debbie Painter began working in the restaurant in 1977 and spent the last 24 years as owner/operator.
“I worked with several different owners,” Painter said. “(After a while, the owners) would sell the restaurant. I guess I just wanted the building.”
Last February, Painter contracted the COVID-19 virus, which led her to look forward past her life at the North Star.
“I wasn’t sure I would make it through that,” Painter continued. “I said to myself, ‘I work seven days a week, and I have to do something different.’ I’m getting too old to work in a restaurant seven days a week—waking up at 3:30 in the morning and not getting back in bed until 10:30/11 o’clock at night. I have a lot of stuff I can do around the house.”
Painter mentioned that if Clark didn’t buy the restaurant, she would’ve shut the doors.
“I love the customers, and the business is here,” Painter stated. “It’s not like I’m selling it because the business is slow. I’m just getting too old.”
Based on Clark’s tenure at the North Star, she also has a connection to the business. Her familiarity with the operation lends to an easier transition in ownership. Clark’s mother also spent years working in the restaurant.
Before Clark took over, there was a prospective buyer locally. According to Painter, the prospective buyer didn’t take Painter’s offer seriously. Another set of buyers stepped in, but they backed out as well.
Painter approached Clark about the purchase. After Clark discussed the idea with her husband, the couple decided to buy the North Star.
While Painter is no longer the owner of the restaurant, her presence will remain known. She will continue to help out Clark a couple of days a week.
“When Deb was gone, I got to be the boss,” Clark added when speaking about transitioning into ownership. The transition hasn’t been a complicated process in terms of running the business.
According to Clark, she doesn’t have any plans to change things to Buchanan’s
“meet n’ greet.” The North Star Restaurant will remain the same classic hangout for Buchanan residents and Botetourt County citizens.
For more information about the North Star Restaurant, visit its Facebook page.