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The Landmark

Expansion at Val’s will close restaurant for one month BY MELISSA MCKEON MMCKEON@HOLDENLANDMARK.COM

You’d have to have been born in town and old enough to vote to call Val James a newcomer to the Holden scene. The owner of the successful family restaurant on Reservoir Street has been in business for 18 years, seven years with pizza and sandwiches in the Holden Commons Plaza and for the past 11 years, in larger full-restaurant digs just down the street.

The new wing of Val’s Restaurant, slated to open in November. Brittany Durgin photo

But for the energetic businessowner who cut her teeth on the restaurant business (her parents owned a similar place in Mansfield), it was time for a change.

“It came to a point in my life where it’s either sell or expand,” she says.

So she’s expanding.

The 3,200-square-foot extension will shift the entrance and add a waiting area, a sit-down bar and a function room, as well as expanded kitchen quarters. The centerpiece of the new area is a stone fireplace.

Moving the bar, entrance and function area will increase by about 30 seats the space available for everyday customers. It will also allow Val to offer a larger function area.

The changes coming to Val’s, however, won’t just be in the new wing and the new kitchen area.

Her family restaurant is undergoing a complete facelift, with a new décor, new equipment and even some menu changes (more of everything, plus some new gluten-free items).

Val is used to being the head with the help of the “wonderful” men who do a lot of the cooking. And though she loves her job so much she doesn’t count the hours, she’ll soon be taking on a new head chef. It’s a necessary move with the expansion.

The challenges, far from daunting James, are just what she’s been wanting, but she hasn’t forgotten the old days or the old ways. When she started the business in Holden Commons Plaza with her pizza and sandwiches, it was a small storefront where Parrot Pizza now does business.

She remembers being a little daunted by all the space at her present location, formerly Crickets Restaurant.

“I thought, ‘Oh my God! Am I going to fill this place every night?’” she recalls.

No problem. That 2,800-square-foot space required a 1,500-square-foot addition a few years later.

The added function area, however, wasn’t quite enough, and James got sick of turning folks down.

Now 3,200-square-feet of growth that includes a 75-person function room will, she hopes, alleviate that problem.

A few things will remain the same: both her children, Joanna and Christos, and the “Val’s family”

the employees who’ve become her adopted family will still be there, as will the pizza and sandwich business that has a special place in her heart.

The change will necessitate closing down for about a month, probably from the 8th of October to November, when Val plans a big opening – for everyone.