Coco Loco selling equipment as new tenants make plans

Posted Feb. 03, 2012, at 8:45 p.m.
Last modified Feb. 03, 2012, at 9:29 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — Two months after closing, the owners of Mexican restaurant Coco Loco are selling off all the equipment and supplies at the 11 Central St. location.

“Yeah, it’s kind of sad for me,” said co-owner Janice Graham, who spent two years with partner and chef Ruby Cruze planning the restaurant before it opened last May. “It’s really a neat town and there’s some good energy downtown and here on Central Street. We just ended up having to put a lot more money into this than we counted on.”

While Graham, who was at the restaurant Friday afternoon for a garage sale of sorts that will continue from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, is leaving the space, another duo already has paid a deposit on the site, signed an agreement, and is actively evaluating the space to plan and build a new restaurant and bar.

“We’ve been looking around for a great space for a while now,” said Ann Marie Orr, owner of the catering business Ann Marie’s Kitchen and wife of business partner Mark Sampson. “We are going to gut it and it’ll look completely different when we’re done. We’ll be evaluating it for a couple months, but we’d like to do a restaurant with a bar offering comfortable dining.”

Orr is a Long Island, N.Y., native and Sampson hails from Southern California, but both like “the vibe” Bangor has now and want to be part of it. Orr also is affiliated with the downtown beer bar Nocturnem.

“I’ve been here 11 years, and downtown is hot and so happening right now,” said Orr, who added a chef has been lined up for the yet-to-be-named restaurant, but the style of menu has yet to be determined.

Graham said she thought she and Cruze had a great style, but it wasn’t enough.

“People appreciated what we did, with everything fresh and authentic, from the mole to the salsa,” said Graham, a married mother of two college students. “But there wasn’t a whole lot of demand for our food as time stretched into November. There were a few hard-core customers who came for meals each week, but being a niche restaurant in a weak economy kind of did us in, I think.”

Ironically, it was that authenticity and freshness that created another problem.

“We had some difficulty getting the things we needed for that, like tomatillos, and other foods,” said Graham.

Graham said she won’t be getting back into the restaurant business in the immediate future, but won’t rule out a second foray into it. In the meantime, she’s going back to her native Long Island to take care of her sick mother.

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