DOVER – Two people with a long history in the restaurant business are now proud co-owners of the Diverge restaurant in downtown Dover.
T.J. Bernard and Shannon Booth opened Diverge last week at 421 Central Ave. in Dover, in the location that housed Kelley’s Row for more than 20 years.
Bernard, who in addition to being a co-owner is Diverge’s head chef, acknowledged during an interview Thursday afternoon that “everybody who comes in here has memories of it when it was Kelley’s.”
“I want them to create new memories in the same space with us,” he said. “I want to have the same impact in the same space. We’re very fortunate to be in this space, we want to pay our respects to the landmark that was here prior to us, but it’s our turn now and we want to put our own stamp on it.”
The bar and dining room at Diverge overlooks the Cocheco River, which patrons can view through a series of windows that let the afternoon sun splash the blue walls and open seating areas.
Booth has been in the restaurant industry for more than 20 years, and she knew before her and Bernard became restaurant owners that she was ready to own her own place.
Her last job was at a restaurant in Exeter.
“When I started there I told myself this is the last time I’ll work for somebody else, if I’m going to do those hours and put in that time, I want to do it for myself,” Booth said Thursday.
She, too, understands how “iconic the spot is from being Kelley’s,” but where Kelley’s focused a lot on the music it offered, Diverge is aimed at being “food focused,” Booth said.
They plan to offer a variety of craft beers and craft cocktails, along with different wine options, she said.
“We just want to be able to feed the community and have a spot where they can come with friends and families that’s warm and inviting,” Booth said. “We want people to be able to come and enjoy the company that they’re with, not necessarily because of a band that we have.”
The co-owners jumped at the opportunity to open in downtown Dover when they found out the space was available, Bernard said.
“It’s a densely populated area on a main street and there’s lot of new development. We’ve got hundreds of apartments right behind us,” he said. “It’s a prime location and we were presented with a really great opportunity.”
The co-owners are proud to offer a wide array of menu options, including seafood, that offer patrons “good food and drinks at a reasonable price with an extreme focus on quality,” Bernard said.
“Everything’s made from scratch, using as much local product as possible,” he said.
In terms of the restaurant’s name, Bernard said they jotted down five different names that they liked and settled on Diverge.
“The goal was to separate ourselves from everybody else and try to stay away from the norm,” he said.
To learn more about Diverge, visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Diverge-100618148140066/.
Source: Thanks https://www.fosters.com/news/20200305/diverge-restaurant-opens-in-downtown-dover