Lunenburg’s Bootlegger to Reopen As the Simon-Pure Publik House

October 9, 2018

Rick Laakkonen, soon-to-be new owner of Simon-Pure Publick House (formerly the Bootlegger Restaurant & Lounge) at 50 Massachusetts Ave. in Lunenburg, stands outside the establishment Friday with General Manager Sharon Dow. SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE/JOHN LOVE

LUNENBURG -- Longtime chef and restaurant manager Rick Laakkonen has worked in New York, around the country, and internationally for more than 25 years.

Now he’s looking forward to settling back in North Central Massachusetts by reopening The Bootlegger Restaurant as a pub and tavern called the Simon-Pure Publick House.

“It’s always been my goal and dream to live and work in the area,” said Laakkonen, who lives in Ashburnham. “It’s not very often that a property like this in any area becomes available. I’m very excited to be planted here in Lunenburg.”

He hopes to open Simon-Pure within the next month. The pub’s opening date depends on when interior updates, hiring, and staff training are complete.

Laakkonen is in the process of purchasing The Bootlegger, which has been closed since January, from owners Sean Morrison and Lance Dellogono. He first learned about the restaurant in March.

In addition to owning and managing the pub, Laakkonen plans to be in the kitchen.

He envisions a fresh new look for the restaurant at 50 Mass. Ave. through improvements and a new menu. Laakkonen wants Simon-Pure to be a casual to mid-range eatery that is comfortable, approachable, and family friendly.

“I’m very excited to get started,” he said. “We’ll get our ducks in order and get running.”

The food will be American style that draws from different cultures and cuisines Laakkonen has learned about throughout his cooking career.

Tavern-inspired food like fish and chips will be found on the menu alongside barbecue, steak, and pasta dishes that used to be served at The Bootlegger, Laakkonen said. There will also be local and popular beer, wine, and cocktails.

The pub’s name comes from an English play called “A Bold Stroke For A Wife” by Susanna Centlivre from 1718, Laakkonen said. This is the same year that the Town of Lunenburg was first settled.

In the play, referring to thing or person as “simon-pure” means it is genuine, authentic, honest, and full of integrity, Laakkonen said, which is the mission for the restaurant.

Laakkonen is a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America and Ecole LeNotre, a French cooking school. Most recently, he has worked as a consultant for meat company JBS Swift.

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