Building On Each Other's Strengths
BY TED M. NATT JR.
When the home-building industry in Moore County bottomed out during the recession, Marcel Goneau and Jess Dishner decided to partner in order to play off each other's strengths.
"As custom homes and spec homes slowed down, we picked up the pace on commercial and renovations," Dishner said. "I had rarely done commercial or renovations, but that was a big part of Marcel's background, so it has worked out well."
Dishner said the attention to detail both brought to their custom homes over the years has resonated with commercial clients, such as Penick Village and the Full Moon Oyster Bar and Seafood Kitchen.
"We're finding that our customers appreciate that because it's a level they hadn't really been used to," he said.
Penick Village hired their firm, Goneau Dishner, to renovate the interior of two cottages and the exterior of six that were built in the early 1980s and had become outdated. The goal was to make the cottages blend in with new construction on the Penick campus.
"We've basically given them a bungalow, mission-style look," Dishner said. "The exterior work involved adding gables, tapered columns, shutters and an autumn palate of four colors."
Inside, the walls, vinyl floors and carpet were all white, and the ceiling soared to 22 feet at its highest point in the dining room.
"We put in new carpet, hardwood floors, granite countertops, new cabinets and vanities, new appliances, and new doors and trim," Dishner said.
The redesign included removing the wall between the kitchen and dining room, dropping the ceiling in the dining room to 10 feet, fashioning a cathedral ceiling in the living room, installing walk-in closets, enlarging the bathrooms, and widening the doorways and hallways.
"It's a user-friendly design," Goneau said, "and opening up the rooms gives the space a little more formal feel. Each room has its own identity now."
Penick CEO Jeff Hutchins said the renovated cottages are "more spacious and cozier."
"All of those little details make a big difference as a person ages," Hutchins said. "We want to make sure we're partnering with folks who are thinking with us so we can present the best possible living environment for our residents and future residents."
Hutchins said about 80 people toured one of the renovated cottages during an open house earlier this month.
"We're really pleased with the response we're getting from potential residents," he said. "We really want the cottages to include what people are looking for in homes today. We want to make sure we're continuing to evolve as people's tastes in homes changes.
"We're really excited about how it turned out. We want to replicate it at other cottages on our campus."
Dishner and Goneau traveled to Clemmons to tour the initial Full Moon Oyster Bar before starting work on the second restaurant in the Southern Pines Village shopping center.
"Things are a little different here, but we kept the same nautical theme and flair," Dishner said. "We were very much involved in the customization of the restaurant. We weren't just listening, we were providing input."
For example, Goneau suggested a custom wood fence around the outdoor patio rather than the standard fence called for in the lease.
"Marcel designed the fence and included the cut-out circles that represent a full moon," Dishner said.
The restaurant, which is open daily for lunch and dinner, mainly has bar seating where customers can see each other.
"It creates a vibe that is comfortable," Goneau said. "You don't have dinner here without meeting somebody and having a conversation."
Dishner agreed, saying, "I had dinner in here last Friday night, an Eric Clapton song was playing, and everyone ended up singing along."
Owner Randy Russell said he wants Full Moon to be a destination restaurant.
"Our motto is 'Come as a stranger, leave as a friend,' so we want our friends to come eat dinner with us," Russell said. "We're much more than an oyster bar. Coming here is a social event. It's a party in here every night."
The business party for Goneau Dishner will move across the parking lot at Southern Pines Village when work begins on upfitting the space next to The Dollar Tree being taken by Purple Penguin, a premium yogurt shop scheduled to open in April.
The company is also renovating the former Botanicals space on Pennsylvania Avenue in Southern Pines to make way for RETRO, a blowout bar that will open next month.
"We're saying 'yes' to all of the above in this economy," Dishner said. "So far, it's working."
Contact Ted M. Natt Jr. at (910) 693-2474 or tnatt@the pilot.com.
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