STOCKTON — Nearly every table at Westons was full by noon Wednesday, and the take-out business was in full swing.
The new downtown restaurant at 323 Main, owned by Roger and Desra Roy, opened last month.
Don Hamit claims the honor of being Westonsfirst customer.
“I was walking down the street going to the deli to get me a sandwich,” he said. “I looked up and the open light was on, so I came in. Desra said, ‘Congratulations, you’re the first customer.’ ”
Hamit said the food is good, and he is now a regular.
On Wednesday, he stopped for lunch with Cody Miller.
It was Miller’s first time eating at Westons.
“It’s much different than when I was in before” when it was the Duck Blind bar, Miller said.
“They’ve really put this place through a transformation,” Hamit said.
Opening the restaurant “wasn’t an overnight decision.”
“We talked about it for a few years. It was a life-changing decision for us,” Desra said.
She started “washing dishes when I was 14 and worked in restaurants on and off throughout my life.”
That included working at the Duck Blind from 2000 to 2006.
After some training, she worked as an aide at Solomon Valley Manor. Though she enjoyed working at the nursing home, she missed the restaurant.
“I loved the work. I loved the people. It’s fun. I just missed it,” Desra said.
The Roys bought the building, which had been sitting empty for three or four years, and worked on its renovation for approximately eight months, Roger said.
The walls had paneling, sheetrock and plaster.
The Roys didn’t know what was behind all the layers but hoped it would be something better.
“We knew we didn’t like it the way it was, so we wanted to just gut it,” Roger said. “Once we started taking all the stuff off the walls, we saw there was brick. So that’s what we wanted to leave.”
The upper walls showcase the original brick and are finished with galvanized, corrugated sheet metal wainscoting. Reclaimed wood and vintage signs add to the rustic decor.
“We took all the layers off the floor and got down to the original hardwood floor. We knew we wanted to refinish it and leave it like that,” he said.
“This was built in 1888, and this is the original floor,” Desra said. “Roger did a lot of repair work.”
Roger, who owned Roy Construction before selling it, now devotes his time to his former hobby, restoring old cars.
“This is kind of like restoring an old building. We wanted to restore an old building,” Roger said. “We could have built a new building, but we thought having an old building and bringing it back to life, it had more character.”
Desra worked at the nursing home when the renovation started, “so when she would get off work, she would come down here and start helping me. She was right beside me all the way. She didn’t just stay home and wait for me to get done,” Roger said.
Three or four months before the restaurant opened, Desra gave up her nursing home job “because this required all my attention,” she said.
Constance Brummer, who now works as a waitress in the restaurant, “helped with the cleaning, wiping down walls and getting everything ready.”
The work was worth it.
“I love the floor,” Brummer said.
Roger replaced the plumbing and wiring, but the heating and air conditioning units were in good shape.
New exposed ductwork was added to make it more efficient.
The food is good and so is the atmosphere, said Dale Winklepleck, Stockton National Bank president.
Winklepleck stopped in Wednesday with Jonathan Berkley for lunch.
“We’re very excited to have it. It’s a nice addition to our downtown,” Berkley said.
“Rog and Des have done a tremendous job in fixing this up and making it nice,” Winklepleck said. “We’re very excited to have people invest in our community.”
Kendall St. Clair and Chelsea St. Clair have eaten there a few times. Chelsea already has a favorite — the cheesy fries.
The business has 15 employees. Most are part-time.
“We have a brand new crew — a lot of different people. We’re working in a brand new building,” Desra said. “The first few weeks it was challenging just figuring everything out. They had no training. They had to hit the ground running, and they really stepped up to the plate.”
“People are what makes it work,” Roger said.
The name of the restaurant is a combination of their two grandsons’ names — Wesley and Eston.
The restaurant features hand-cut steaks and shrimp on the dinner menu, and a full bar.
“People feel comfortable to bring their kids in, or kids can come in by themselves,” Roger said.
“We love it when the kids come in and play pool in the afternoon,” Desra said.
“We didn’t have a really good family restaurant. Now we’ve got a place where we can come and get a steak and other things in a nice, clean environment,” Hamit said.