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Champlain islands restaurant gets makeover, add lakeview bar next year

NORTH HERO – A lakefront inn and restaurant that’s been around for seven decades has just seen a major makeover of its dining room, with other big plans in the works for 2022.

What is the place?

Established in 1951 by Harvey and Dolly Dodds, Shore Acres inn and restaurant occupies 1,800 feet of lake frontage on 46 acres along Lake Champlain in North Hero. The inn has 24 rooms, 20 of which face the lake. The dining room with seating for 82 customers has similarly striking views.

The menu has historically been heavy on comfort foods and the dining room reflected that coziness. A stuffed bear greeted customers. Duck-filled scenes adorned the knotty-pine walls. Diners ate their meals on checkered tablecloths.

Many of those old touches are gone, updated by the new owners who came to Shore Acres early this year.

The recently renovating dining room at Shore Acres in North Hero, shown Aug. 9, 2021.

What’s the story behind it?

Neil and Kelly Gillespie visited Shore Acres regularly for the past decade from their home in Virginia. On a visit last August, Kelly mentioned to her husband that the business owned by Susan and Mike Tranby was for sale.

In mid-January, the Gillespies bought Shore Acres. Neil Gillespie, a retired senior partner for a consulting firm in the aerospace/defense industry in McLean, Virginia, said they paid what the Tranbys were asking — $2.95 million.