Granite State of Mind, #88: The Townlyne Grill, Exeter
The building used to be called the Studio Restaurant (and, rumor has it, once sheltered a drug house). That sordid and likely apocryphal bit of mythology aside, 52 Hampton Road reached its highest and best use as The Townlyne Grill, the classy and yet casual eatery established and operated by Exeter fixture Chris Moutis. Chris was a true townie, and his restaurant reflected his love (sometimes acerbic but always loyal) to his village. The Townlyne bar was a welcoming place for discussions of local politics, whatever your particular axe to grind, and I know during my time on the Board there were more than few discussions over a glass or two. The joint also hosted some seminal moments in town history, like the farewell celebration for longtime town manager George Olson.
I always liked eating there, with Sarah or Al and Stefani or my folks. The food was always good, the service always friendly and prompt. I can remember a long and indulgent dinner there with Ben Wheeler years ago, hefty prime ribs and bourbons with a cigar finish at the old Allen Street house. We were all fierce adherents to the Korean Beef Tender appetizers, hot and juicy on their steel skewers. They had the distinction of being the offering that ended Sarah's Ripkenesque vegetarian streak in 2003, and you couldn't ask for a better fall from grace.
You can't talk about the TLG without talking about Chris. I hadn't spoken to him in many years, us both having moved away from town for different reasons, but I always enjoyed our overlapping tenures on the Exeter Budget Committee. Chris was the breed of cat who would tell you to your face you were a wrong-headed son of a bitch and then share an authentic laugh. He was honest, he was hardworking, and he was always - always - impeccably dressed. And he was one of the few people I've met who loved Exeter as much as I did and wanted the best for her citizens. I can't argue that we were close friends, but I valued him for all of his contributions and his infectious spirit, and it was with surprise and sadness that I heard of his passing not long ago. Like the restaurants he ran, Exeter is made poorer for his absence.