AU SABLE FORKS - A new restaurant is bolstering the effort to keep business booming in downtown Au Sable Forks.
Brothers Shane and Lance Lawrence opened Mad River Pizza in January, hoping to have a positive impact in an area that hasn't seen a lot of recent growth.
"I definitely just wanted to bring a fun place with good food to a small town I grew up in," said Lance, who has spent the last several years as a chef at a couple of Lake Placid restaurants.
The impact has been felt right from the beginning. When Mad River Pizza held its grand opening Jan. 15, Lance and Shane donated much of their proceeds to the AuSable Valley Central School basketball team in honor of the late Johnny Nixon, an AVCS graduate who died at the age of 28 after contracting amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS.
"It just seemed like the right thing to do," said Lance. "I knew John Nixon and he was a really good friend of my nephew."
In turn, the basketball team donated those funds to the family of Jeff Brown, an AuSable Forks native currently suffering from the debilitating - and often terminal - disease.
"One of the things we wanted to do was to let people know that we wanted to do stuff like that in the future," said Shane.
The restaurant operates in a Main Street storefront previously owned by Travis Glicksman, who operated it as Travy G's Pizzeria until closing last fall.
Lance, a friend of Glicksman, had originally planned to partner with him at Travy G's, but when Glicksman decided to move out of the area, he teamed up with older brother Shane, who brings 10 years of experience managing a chain of convenience stores.
They renovated the building and, with the help of a federal stimulus grant through the Adirondack Economic Development Corporation, added new kitchen equipment.