Lab ’n Lager Food & Spirits in Jaffrey will close Saturday following years of uncertainty stemming from a proposed downtown roundabout project, according to its owner, Doni Ash.
On July 16, the state’s Highway Layout Commission approved the $8.6 million project, which would claim Lab ’n Lager’s location at 4 Stratton Road via eminent domain. That decision was the final blow for Ash, who has struggled to hire and retain employees in recent years.
“I’ve had employees leave … and their words are, ‘We want to look for another job while we can because we don’t know what the future holds here,’ ” Ash said Thursday. “I don’t blame them.”
With only five staff members left — Ash says he needs 10 to run at full capacity — Lab ’n Lager will close Saturday. The tavern will be open from 3 to 11 p.m. that day.
Ash called the move a “temporary closure,” however, since the state has not yet provided details about compensation for the property and a timeline for construction.
“We’re not closing for lack of business,” Ash said. “From the day we opened [in 2013], we’ve been busy for the last seven years … I’m extremely thankful for the community that supported us.”
As of February, construction on the roundabout project was slated to begin in summer 2022.
Proposals to build a five-spoked roundabout at the intersection of Main Street, Blake Street, Stratton Road, Turnpike Road (Route 124), and Route 202 in downtown Jaffrey have been introduced since at least 2013.
After saying in recent years that he had no plans to vacate Lab ’n Lager’s location in Jaffrey, Ash criticized the state’s eminent domain process Thursday.
“The state has got it so backwards — it’s really unfair,” he said. “I wake up every morning wondering if today’s the day I get an email saying, ‘Hey, we’re taking your property next week.’ It’s really hard to run a business and put 100 percent into [it] knowing that you could be gone in a couple days.”
Ash also owns Lab ’n Lager in Keene, which opened in 2007, and Shattuck Golf Club in Jaffrey.