Even after 20 years on the West Coast, Kirk Linder knew he would return back East but he didn’t know that when he did, he’d arrive in a Westfalia van, affectionately called “Larri,” to open a restaurant with his partner, chef Charlie Zorich.

The Hichborn, located on Church Street, is a former bed and breakfast that’s been converted into a 24-seat restaurant serving fresh, locally sourced food. The local food scene — “I think it’s unparalleled” — is one of the things that attracted him to Waldo County, Zorich said.

“To be able to cook seasonally and be part of a sustainable local food economy, that’s really exciting,” he said, adding the friendliness of Mainers sealed the deal. “We just fell in love with the area.”

The two considered other areas of the state when seeking a place to settle and open an eatery, including the Kingfield and Bethel areas. Before that, they’d also considered Vermont on the East Coast and Portland, Ore., where they previously lived.

“I’ve loved Maine since the first day (vacationing) as a kid,” Linder said.

When he suggested it to Zorich, they started checking Maine real estate listings and came across the Hichborn, at that time being marketed as a private residence. Both men love the snow and are avid snowboarders as well, an added attraction pointing them to Maine.

But at first, it didn’t seem meant to be. In Oregon, there was a house to sell and another going through remodeling into a rental property. Out West, there was potential for purchase of an inn in Washington state but the owners weren’t ready to sell. On a whim, they reached out to the owners of The Hichborn again with a proposal. This time, it worked out.

The previous owners had put a lot of money into the home after closing the inn in 2009, including modernized plumbing and wiring, Linder said. At the same time, its historical features were retained, including many of the light fixtures and trims.

“They loved this house so much,” Linder said, pointing to original wallpaper and other historical details. He said he and Zorich were honored to be chosen as the next stewards of the house, which is included on the National Register of Historic Places.

“We just knew this was the house,” Zorich said. “ … This was a quality of life project for us. It’s been really cool and people have been supportive.”

The restaurant walls feature the works of Stockton Springs artists — something close to Linder’s heart. He’s set up a studio in the house and hopes to spend a little more time in it once the busy-ness of opening the restaurant slows. The move away from the bustling West Coast to slower-paced Maine will allow “time for each of us to focus on what we love to do,” Zorich said.

In fact, the name of the company they formed is Making Good Time LLC. Linder, when not running the “front of the house” during the restaurant’s open hours, is designing logos and other graphics for the business.

“That’s where a lot of my passion is — the creativity,” Linder said.

Zorich’s focus remains on the food.

“Within 40 minutes of here, we can get everything we need,” he said. “It’s cool to be watching that expansion of local food.”

Not only is the food and art local, but also the tables, which were built from wood salvaged from the barn on the property. Currently, there are just two barn wood tables but a local builder is crafting them as he is able.

“We’re just living the dream,” Zorich said.

The two anticipate The Hichborn will be open year-round, with reduced hours in the winter to make time for snowboarding. Reservations are recommended.  For more information, visit the website, thehichborn.com.