Raynham’s Barrels & Boards Set to Reopen After Weeks of Rumors
UPDATE (3-9-2022): This story has been updated to include a response from Dean Saxonis and Irene Saxonis to the claims made by their former business partner, Dave Laghetto.
After nearly two months of speculation and rumors, Raynham’s Barrels & Boards restaurant announced on social media this morning that it would be reopening again soon.
The popular eatery closed back in January under a cloud of speculation. Initial reports were that a pipe had burst and had caused damage inside the restaurant, but as the weeks waned on, those reports expanded to include additional renovations to the restaurant’s interior.
On Friday, the restaurant posted on its new Facebook page that it would soon reopen, and that an announcement was forthcoming as to the date.
What About Gift Cards and Seize the Deals for Barrels & Boards?
In addition, “gift cards that have been previously purchased and gifted will always be honored,” the restaurant stated, and later clarified on the Facebook post that includes all Seize the Deal gift certificates sold by WBSM and Fun 107 through SeizetheDeal.com that were set to expire this month.
"Any and all gift certificates will be honored," the restaurant wrote. "No matter the expiration date."
So What Happened to Barrels & Boards?
“Due to circumstances beyond our control, we unfortunately were forced to close our restaurant doors earlier this year. Within this time, we took the opportunity to deeply reflect upon what is most important to us. Creating a hometown restaurant and a unique dining experience has always been our main priority, but we have now come to understand our true priority is you,” the post stated.
“After much deliberation and conquered turmoil, we are so pleased to announce that Barrels & Boards is here to stay!” the announcement continued. “Raynham deserves a local eatery that supports local farms, businesses and to feel welcomed as a family when you walk through the doors. We are ready to welcome you back with open arms, smiling faces and a newly renovated restaurant.”
“Deliberation” and “conquered turmoil” indicate that perhaps something more was at play than just some renovations, and social media rumors throughout the closure pointed toward a rift between the owners.
What Happened Between the Owners of Barrels & Boards?
Former local news reporter Mike Saccone posted documents to his Twitter account (@mikesacconeTV) on February 25 that indicated the problems at the restaurant likely went beyond the physical infrastructure of the building, and more about the structure of the ownership.
Those documents came from an “ex parte” emergency motion filed in Bristol Superior Court on behalf of owner and operator David Laghetto against Dean Saxonis, who is described in the filing as “the landlord” of the property, located at 1285 Broadway in Raynham. The motion is requesting that Laghetto be allowed to take full control of the business and that Saxonis not be permitted on the property out of concern that he “could erupt and cause significant damage to the restaurant premises, intimidate employees and harm the business and perhaps the plaintiff personally.”
The order also alleges Saxonis “had a history of self-serving behaviors, including: changing locks, usurping unilateral control of the restaurant premises, summarily firing employees hired by Laghetto without cause and the unilateral destruction of corporate records during his operations of the restaurant.”
According to the filing, Saxonis claimed through his legal counsel on February 23 that “due to the press of creditors of Barrels & Boards, Inc., specifically, the Mass DOR, the liquor wholesalers, and other suppliers, we do not anticipate re-opening the restaurant.” Laghetto’s camp filed the ex parte motion the following day.
The motion also claimed Saxonis assumed control of the restaurant on January 3 on the pretext of “the Executive Chef won’t work with you,” meaning Laghetto, and that “I need to take over operations to preserve the restaurant.” The motion alleges that “after installing leadership loyal to Saxonis and firing personnel who Laghetto hired, Saxonis began unfettered restaurant operation – locking Laghetto out of operations and destroying records.”
Why Did Barrels & Boards Close?
Barrels & Boards then ceased operations on January 18, 2022, which the motion claims is when Saxonis realized that the restaurant owed approximately $128,000 to its creditors. Laghetto’s camp claims in the motion that during the ensuing shutdown, Saxonis spent “well over $100,000 in renovating the restaurant premises. Had this money been used to pay vendors, there would be no ‘need’ to cease operations as expressed by Saxonis.”
The motion points out that the restaurant had only been operating for two years.
It also claims that although Saxonis claimed the restaurant was closed “due to a broken pipe in a remote area of the building” and “a rupture in the sewer line” that “no insurance claims have been provided.”
Dean and Irene Saxonis Respond to Those Claims
Dean and Irene Saxonis have now taken over operations of Barrels & Boards, and wanted to clear up some of the rumors and misinformation regarding what happened – including showing this writer video footage of burst pipes in the kitchen leading to the need for the entire floor to be replaced on top of fixing the pipes themselves.
“We couldn’t speak for two reasons,” Dean Saxonis said. “One, our lawyers told us not to, and secondly, the other side took the social media page away from us.”
“We had no access, we couldn’t even see the messages or anything. How can you address the public?” Irene Saxonis said. “Things did happen in here. It wasn’t a farce. We did have water leaks, we did have a pipe burst over here. We had a main burst over there. We had to replace the flooring, we had to replace the flooring in the kitchen. And obviously, we’re in COVID times, so we couldn’t get the product and everything is through the roof. It was just very disheartening for us not to be able to address and calm those fears.”
The repairs to the floor in the kitchen also revealed unknown fire damage that was happening underneath the equipment, of which this writer was shown photos.
“We ended up putting a fire resistant floor in,” Dean said. “So $100,000 in repairs and $75,000 of that was the floor. If you’re going to do that, you might as well paint, might as well change a couple pictures, might as well put a couple fireplaces in.”
They also made it clear that this was not a case of one owner pushing another out.
“All I’m looking for is for people to understand that the restaurant is here today. There was no Dean takeover because I’m the landlord, because I’m a bully. There was none of that,” Dean said.
Rather, the Saxonises maintain that Laghetto’s management style had Executive Chef Manny Hernandez and his entire kitchen staff, along with bar manager Kelley Cataldo and her bar staff, ready to quit.
“I came here one day and the place was like a funeral parlor,” Dean said.
“What are you going to do?” Irene said. “We tried to make amends with everybody, tried to give Dave that chance. We tried to bring everyone together and said, ‘Listen, Dave, you need to hear what these people have to say because it’s ugly, it’s really ugly, and these are your key people. And he didn’t want to hear it.”
Dean Saxonis’ family actually founded the restaurant when it was known as Christopher’s Seafood and Steakhouse, and both he and Irene had spent decades associated with the restaurant. However, they said that because of their other business ventures, they were happy to let Laghetto be the person to run Barrels & Boards, until they said it became clear that it was being mismanaged.
“We run several successful businesses, and we understand the finance part of it,” Irene said. “You see certain things, you know it’s not going in the right direction. You see certain things and you always have to project,and that’s what Dean and I have always done, especially in the restaurant business. Just because you’re making it doesn’t mean it’s always going to be there.”
She said in the end, they had to make the move to protect the business and the staff.
“There was a partner. We had issues with a partner. That’s on the back end, that’s the business part of it. People who are in business, it happens, but there are things people aren’t aware of,” she said. “But we did what we had to do not for ourselves, we did what we had to do for the staff, for the people that work here.”
A New Website, New Socials and a New Beginning for Barrels & Boards
The restaurant has a new website, Facebook page and Instagram account as it moves into its next phase. It also commented on its Facebook post that there have been some changes to the drink menu, desserts and the addition of a new late night menu.
“The brighter days we longed for are finally here,” the statement concluded. “Welcome back, B&B community, we have missed you and look forward to seeing you soon and serving you again.”