EDGECOMB, Maine — The new owners of a long-shuttered Route 1 restaurant have two themes guiding them: Keep it simple and do it right.
John Smigielski and Mark McGuy debuted the Davis Island Grill in mid-December, 2½ years since the prominent establishment on the shore of the Sheepscot River last served meals. Despite the fact the restaurant has had several iterations — including for many years the Muddy Rudder and most recently Bintliff’s Ocean Grill — Smigielski and McGuy said its location aside busy Route 1 and distance from other eateries represent a winning formula.
“This place has always been successful, whoever ran it,” said Smigielski. “It’s got a lot going for it.”
Added to that list are Smigielski and McGuy, who together have more than 75 years of experience in the food service business, mostly in other states. The duo met on a job in the 1980s. Smigielski, who has been involved in several coastal Maine businesses, including running the Newagon Seaside Inn in Southport and the revival of the Captain Daniel Stone Inn in Brunswick in 2009, said he’s had his eye on the Edgecomb establishment for two years. He and McGuy began pursuing it in earnest over the summer.
In addition to the restaurant, they are managing an attached resort, which includes a 12-room inn, a 16-suite lodge and dozens of cottages, most of which are privately owned. Those facilities, along with heavy seasonal tourist traffic, offer a built-in restaurant clientele, but the owners say their first goal is to serve area residents year-round. That’s part of the reason they opened Davis Island Grill in December, even though conventional wisdom speaks against an off-season launch.
“We wanted to create a loyal local following,” said McGuy. “We know the tourists will come, but we want to see this succeed year-round. It’s only going to get better.”
Smigielski said providing an economic boost for the area was another reason for the December opening.
“We employ 30 people,” he said. “We brought jobs to this town in the dead of winter.”
Smigielski and McGuy said business has been brisk in the first three weeks of operation, including more than 100 diners on New Year’s Eve. If they make use of an upstairs banquet hall, which is available to rent for special events, they can seat more than 100 people. In the warm months they intend to offer a rooftop deck where diners can enjoy views of the river, Wiscasset Village and one of the best sunset views in the area, said McGuy.
Though plans are still under development, they intend to offer a Sunday brunch and theme nights during the week, including live music, a vinyl record night and ladies night.
The restaurant is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner. On the menu is a range of options from pasta dishes in the $15 range to pub fare and steaks to a variety of seafood meals for less than $20.
“We’re not looking to be fancy,” said McGuy. “We want to be correct. We just want to do it right.” To that end, every dish is made from scratch, he said.
One unique feature of the restaurant is its wine and beer selection. Smigielski and McGuy have installed a wine-on-tap system that allows them to serve high-quality wine that they buy by the barrel. They also feature a full bar and specialize in Maine-made beers, including a Davis Island Ale they are planning with the D.L. Geary Brewing Co. in Portland.
Davis Island Grill is located at 318 Eddy Road in Edgecomb, adjacent to Route 1. Hours are from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday and 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. For information, visit www.davisislandgrill.com or the restaurant’s Facebook page. Reservations are recommended for parties of six or more by calling 687-2190.