BREWER, Maine — Penobscot Eye Care opened its doors to customers at its new location on Dirigo Drive a week ago today, two months ahead of schedule, Dale Graham, practice administrator, said on Monday.
“We came in under budget and we’re in our new facility two months before we thought we’d be,” he said while sitting in his office with one piece of shelving leaning against the wall still waiting to be installed.
With large windows to let in light and expanded customer service and exam areas, the new facility at 29 Dirigo Drive is a huge improvement over the former location in the Penobscot Plaza on Washington Street in Bangor.
“Our old location, it was a hodgepodge” of office space, Graham said. “It was very ineffective use of space. A square peg in a round hole.”
The decision to build a new facility is something “we’ve been kicking around for years,” he said.
“I don’t want to be corny, but we built this practice for our patient base,” Graham said. “It’s their facility as much as ours.”
The new location is a one-story building with 6,700 square feet of space next to the Eastern Maine Emergency Veterinary Clinic, which is at the corner of Dirigo Drive and Parkway South.
The facility, which was built by Nickerson & O’Day of Brewer, offers eye exams and eyeglasses for adults and children. It employs 16 people.
“We take pride in the fact that we’re a family-oriented business,” Graham said. The newest employee was hired 2½ years ago, he said.
The facility has nine exam rooms; three reception windows, one that is lowered for those who use a wheelchair; a contact lens area; and a full service laboratory that can handle same-day prescriptions for most single-vision glasses, Graham said.
“The building is designed with a circular flow,” he said.
Three eye doctors, Kimberly Allen, Jeffrey Sawyer and Kathryn Ward, own and operate the business, and Charles Marquez, who founded the business with Sawyer in 1974, is another doctor. The business opened at the Penobscot Plaza location in 1988.
“It’s a great step,” Marquez said on Monday while reviewing someone’s eye chart sitting in an office shared by the four eye doctors. “I’m real happy.”
Penobscot Eye Care plans to hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony at noon today at the new location and a grand opening sometime after the first of the year.