NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

July 26, 2013

All hands on Deck

SALISBURY — It’ll be a family affair when the Deck at Bridge Marina holds its grand opening tonight, with dad and the kids working together to rejuvenate a local landmark riverside venue.

The historic Fish Tale Diner was part of the property when Mark Audette bought Bridge Marina last year. By the time the papers were passed, Michelle (Merrill) Freeman of Salisbury had closed the doors of the breakfast and lunch spot she’d run for about 20 years, with most of her family working right beside her.

Audette hadn’t intended to get into the restaurant business, but when his son, Conrad, approached him, the deal just seemed too perfect to pass up. So father and son took on the challenge of overhauling the place, bringing the decades-old diner up to code and creating an inviting pub on a patch of ground overlooking the Merrimack River.

“I’d had a lot of calls from people who wanted to take over the Fish Tale to run another breakfast place,” Audette said. “But the Fish Tale was such an iconic establishment, an institution really. Everyone has great memories of the place; I know I do. I felt we needed to go in a totally different direction. That’s what we did.”

Conrad Audette told his father the site was just too wonderful to leave fallow. A social worker by profession, like a lot of people, Conrad Audette, who is in his 20s, always thought it would be “cool” to run a pub. And there was one other motivating factor.

“I wanted to start a business with my dad,” he said. “This just seemed right.”

Enter chef Matt Belliveau and restaurant manager Kassie Kane, and the nucleus was complete. Both, though still in their 20s, have considerable experience working in the food service industry, most recently at Stripers before it changed hands.

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