LINCOLN, Maine — Tyler Belk worked for 25 years in the restaurant industry and always wanted to own a franchise.
“I started as a baker at the Presque Isle Tim Hortons store about 10 years ago, working the [overnight] shift,” the 39-year-old Belk said earlier this week. “Prior to that, I had been in the food business ever since I was 14 or 15. I started when I was flipping burgers. I’ve worked in hospitals, schools, done fast food and fine dining.”
Belk achieved his goal this week when his Tim Hortons and Cold Stone Creamery opened at its West Broadway location on Monday. He and his wife, co-owner Angela Belk, said they are pleased at the brisk business the new eatery is doing. Both moved into town from Presque Isle.
“Hopefully, this will bring other [fast-food] chains to the area,” Belk said.
The new Tim Hortons is among two that have opened in Maine in the past two weeks. Another one opened on U.S. Route 1 in Madawaska on Nov. 12, said Adeline Pascalides, a Tim Hortons district manager. The two restaurants are the last due to open in Maine this year.
“That is all that’s on the drawing board that I know of for now,” said Scottie Bragdon, co-owner of the Madawaska franchise. “Business has been great. We did have a strong opening.”
The Lincoln and Madawaska restaurants each employ 30 to 35 full- and part-timers manning the round-the-clock operations, earning minimum wage or slightly higher pay rates, Belk and Bragdon said. Most are full-timers.
Pay rates in Lincoln should increase as the all-new crew finds its feet, Angela Belk said.
The Lincoln restaurant was due to open in August, but problems securing a traffic permit from the Maine Department of Transportation caused a delay, Angela Belk said. The new franchise adds to the small number of fast-food chain restaurants in Lincoln, the most well-known being a Subway and a McDonald’s.
Lincoln has about a dozen restaurants and cafes, including Gillmor’s — whose owners also operate a combination car wash and ice cream parlor opposite the Tim Hortons — Wing Wah, Timber House, Pat’s Pizza, JJ’s Pizza and Subs, and Shooters.
The closure of 36 Tim Hortons — all of its locations in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut and two in the Portland area earlier this month — had no impact on the Lincoln and Madawaska stores or any plans the company might have to continue its expansion in Maine next year, Pascalides said.
Tim Hortons said it lost $4.4 million this year in the now-closed locations.
Pascalides and the Belks said Hortons sales in Maine remain strong.
Constructed over the summer, the Lincoln Tim Hortons has a unique design, with 1950s-style stool seating mixed with couch-type table seats, and will have wireless Internet service by Jan. 1, Angela Belk said.
She said she resisted the idea of her store having a Cold Stone, not particularly liking the idea of competing with Lincoln’s ice cream sellers, but that was a corporate decision, she said.
Lincoln resident Kristy Langley, 28, said she was glad to see Tim Hortons open in Lincoln. Though many local convenience stores, restaurants and gas stations sell coffee, Tim Hortons is the first store to specialize in coffee.
“We’re happy to have a choice,” Langley said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.