November 30, 2022

Just Moments

Travel Groove

New owners of historic Searsport sea captain’s house reopening shuttered restaurant

SEARSPORT, Maine — Within the new Homeport Tavern very last 7 days, it was a blur of exercise as the proprietors bought all set for opening night on Friday, June 17.

With vendors dropping by and a eating space however under renovation, there was a lot to do. But the child grand piano was already in put and a pot of gumbo was simmering on the stove — which the two seemed to fit with the target on hospitality and great foods that homeowners Arnaud Lessard, Allison Lessard and Kip Dixon have in mind for the cafe.

Three people stand next to a sign that reads "homeport tavern"
Arnaud Lessard, Allison Lessard and Kip Dixon are the owners of The Homeport Tavern, which is element of the Homeport Inn on East Key Avenue in Searsport. They are making ready for a smooth opening that they hope will be later on this month. Credit history: Linda Coan O’Kresik / BDN

“We seriously want to have enjoyment right here. We want to deliver live audio and good food items,” Arnaud Lessard, 45, explained. “This is not likely to be a seasonal restaurant. This is a commitment to our future and to this city.”

The Homeport Tavern, which is component of the Homeport Inn on East Principal Street, is one of quite a few new places to eat to open up in Searsport inside the past 12 months, indicative of a restaurant boom in the modest coastal city. It joins other newcomers like Rio’s Spiked Cafe, Hey Sailor! and RasDal Falafel.

However in the the latest previous, the oceanfront neighborhood has been overshadowed by its southern neighbor, Belfast, Searsport is now obtaining a instant — and he’s happy to be element of it, Arnaud Lessard stated.

“I consider that we have obtained a huge push for journey tourism in Maine, and I assume that Searsport is truly hitting its stride,” he reported. “There’s a large amount of excellent matters likely on here.”

The Lessards, who are married, and Dixon have a lengthy record in the hospitality market. They met though doing the job in the very same restaurant in Newburyport, Massachusetts, extra than 20 yrs in the past. Dixon, 53, who at first hails from Mobile, Alabama, is a chef. Allison Lessard, 49, who grew up in Farmington, Maine, has a degree in inside structure and a background in project management. Arnaud Lessaurd labored in hospitality administration for 25 years, and most just lately was aspect of a group that opened The Whitney Hotel, a luxury boutique resort on Beacon Hill in Boston.

But the function they are performing in Searsport, on a sea captain’s mansion built in 1865 by Captain John P. Nichols, feels distinctive. The trio procured the inn and tavern in February, just after exploring for a residence on the Maine coast. The Italianate constructing, entire with an elaborate cupola, was detailed on the Countrywide Register of Historic Places in 1983.

The Homeport Inn had been open up seasonally, with the earlier homeowners seeking to sell it for a variety of yrs. The tavern — formerly the Mermaid Pub — experienced been shut for seven decades.

A sign reads "the homeport tavern"
The Homeport Tavern, a new Searsport cafe, will offer you elevated cuisine 12 months-spherical in an previous sea captain’s home from 1865. Credit: Linda Coan O’Kresik / BDN

As the new house owners received deeper into the project, they identified drinking water hurt and a common experience of benign neglect that they required to deal with. Just one factor they have not been bothered by are the ghosts that allegedly haunt the inn. In spite of the time they have expended refurbishing the constructing, Arnaud Lessard mentioned they have not sensed any spirits.

Lengthy perform times flowed into every single other, and more than the final 13 weeks, they’ve taken only 3 days off.

“This is almost certainly the hardest factor I’ve ever performed in my lifestyle,” Allison Lessard stated.

The benefits are really worth it, they claimed.

“People say ‘it appears to be like awesome,’” Arnaud Lessard explained. “We’re happy of all the work that we have carried out. We’re reclaiming floors that experienced four layers of paint and lined in carpet. We’re just trying to bring the beauty and attraction back again out of this making and hope it’s very well acquired.”

The tavern is a cozy, welcoming place with a stone fireplace in the lounge place. The cafe originally was built in the 1980s for an owner who dreamed of opening an English-style pub, and the brickwork, wall sconces and inviting picket bar all ring accurate to that dream.

The inside of a tavern with chairs and a fireplace.
The Homeport Tavern, a new Searsport restaurant, will supply elevated delicacies 12 months-spherical in an old sea captain’s household from 1865. Credit: Linda Coan O’Kresik / BDN

“It’s a place you can occur to rest, get away and just about hide. It is a hideaway,” Arnaud Lessard claimed.

The independent dining place has a distinctive charm, with black-painted walls and the aforementioned piano.

“The vibe is black and brass and gold,” Arnaud Lessard said. “This is seriously simplicity in magnificence.”

It’s a excellent backdrop for Dixon’s creations, which will incorporate both common New England flavors and Cajun, Louisiana-design favorites. There is the mouth-watering gumbo, a savory stew that serves as a gratifying postcard from his roots. But there will also be seasonal specialities like summer season risotto and burrata caprese salad as effectively as sandwiches and burgers that will be on the menu just about every working day. Other solutions will include things like bangers and mash and St. Louis slice smoked ribs, with most meats like bacon and pork tummy fixed and smoked in household.

Desserts may well incorporate specialities like bourbon praline bread pudding.

“I’m wholly on the lookout forward to all the seafood below,” Dixon said. “I want to use as numerous regional products as feasible. I do want to alter it up. I want to keep men and women surprised and psyched.”

He’s been pleasantly amazed by the heat welcome he has found because relocating to Maine in February.

The Homeport Tavern in Searsport. Credit score: Linda Coan O’Kresik / BDN

“I adore Maine so far. I’m completely enamored with the hospitality right here,” he mentioned. “People are welcoming. It is a breath of contemporary air.”

The Homeport Tavern’s eating room at 121 East Most important St. in Searsport will be open up from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5-9 p.m. on Wednesday via Sunday. The bar will be open till 10 p.m. on people days. For additional data, check out the internet site homeporthistoricinn.com or phone 207-548-2259.