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Lakeside Lodge & Grille owner tries to rebuild life

BOLTON — Lakeside Lodge & Grille owner Nicole Somma said she is trying to determine what the next step is after a devastating fire last week destroyed her business.

“It still doesn’t feel real,” she said.

Fire struck the business at about 3 a.m. on Sept. 17, prompting a multiagency response, but it was too late to save the building.

Somma had just completed $300,000 worth of renovations to create four new suites on the top floor of the building, where she used to house international students. She said she had always wanted to turn it into a lodge.

She started renting the first of the suites on Memorial Day weekend and work on the last one was finished in July.

“It was pretty much full every single night this summer,” she said.

She said it was fortunate no one was in the units on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“I had people checking in the next day,” she said.

Somma said investigators believe the fire started in the basement, based upon their review of the scene and the path the fire took. They have not provided any definitive cause at this point.

They took evidence for analysis, including some exercise equipment, Somma said.

The basement housed a bar called The Brass Ring. She did not open it this summer because of the COVID-19 restrictions.

Somma had her restaurant open year-round, but had not made a decision about the winter season.

“I was probably going to stay open year-round, especially since I had the lodge,” she said.

She said everybody in Bolton had a great summer.

“I was anticipating a really strong fall,” she said.

She said she feels bad for her nine employees who are out of work, including three members of the kitchen staff.

“They’re hurting as much as I am right now. It’s kind of weird when you have something like this now. You feel like family. We all need each other right now,” she said.

Her chef was with her for six years.

“I’ve had people there from day one,” she said.

Somma said the support from the community, especially Bolton Central School, has been overwhelming.

“I’m normally on the other side of this because I’ve hosted many, many fundraisers for people in need in our community,” she said.

Teachers have organized a collection to pay for her immediate living expenses. Somma said she and her boyfriend had moved into a new apartment together while planning to build a house. They stored personal belongings in the attic of the restaurant, including clothes, personal items such baby photos, Christmas decorations and equipment like skis, hunting gear and scuba equipment.

“We pretty much lost everything except the clothes we had at our apartment,” she said.

A GoFundMe page has been started to help Somma get back on her feet. It had raised more than $9,645 toward a $30,000 goal as of Wednesday night.

Somma said the first step is to clear the site. But she has not been given permission to get back onto the fire scene.

Since the business was a prominent building on Main Street, officials are going to want it cleaned up quickly, she said.

Somma said she has been in the restaurant business since age 14. She got one of her first jobs at Lakeside during the time when it was called House of Scotts.

“Right now, I’m literally trying to figure out my life, because my world just got turned upside down,” she said.

Reach Michael Goot at 518-742-3320 or mgoot@poststar.com and follow his blog poststar.com/blogs/michael_goot/.

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