June 25, 2018
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Busy restaurant season ahead for Winter Harbor

Stephen M. Katz | BDN
Stephen M. Katz | BDN
Mama's Boy Bistro in Winter Harbor.
By Tom Walsh, BDN Staff

WINTER HARBOR, Maine — For many years, it’s been culinary feast or famine in the seaside Hancock County community of Winter Harbor.

This summer it appears it will be feast.

Plans are in the works to reopen the long-mothballed Mama Boy’s Bistro restaurant in Winter Harbor, which has been sitting empty for most of the last eight years.

Owned by Roxanne Quimby of Burt’s Bees fame, the three-story timber frame building at Newman and Main streets was built in 2002 and has more or less been sitting empty, costing Quimby $5,035 a year in property taxes.

The J.M. Gerrish building on Main Street in Winter Harbor will reopen as a restaurant on May 15. It is being operated by a nonprofit co-op that over the winter hired a new chef with big plans for the seasonal feeding frenzy that drives the Schoodic Peninsula tourist economy.

Co-op members ante up $50 to help keep the restaurant solvent. In exchange, members get 10 percent off any meal they order. A volunteer board of directors oversees the operation. Volunteers have spent the winter planning the menu and selecting wine list offerings.

Entrees will range in price from $11.95 to $16.95 and will include menu items such as Southern fried chicken, a special steak served with toasted rye bread slathered in garlic butter, and oysters on the half-shell. The menu will feature seven salads and three soups — a soup of the day, lobster bisque and clam chowder.

The J.M. Gerrish co-op recently hired Melissa Ford as its chef. She was the culinary brain trust behind the Sullivan Harbor Cafe before the building that housed her popular restaurant on Route 1 in Sullivan was sold. Among her areas of epicurian expertise is making ice cream. Other desserts will include locally baked pies.

The restaurant will serve breakfast and lunch seven days a week and will serve dinner between 5:30 and 9 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, with reservations suggested. Call 963-7320 for details.

The anchor tenant of the Winter Harbor dining scene is the Fisherman’s Inn, a culinary fixture for 13 years running. It’s a labor of love owned, overseen and staffed by the family of award-winning chef Carl Johnson. His eclectic menu showcases local seafood and specialty dishes that reflect Johnson’s fascination with the culture and culinary traditions of Thailand.

The Fisherman’s Inn’s most popular menu item is the seafood mixed grill, which includes grilled servings of locally harvested lobster, scallops, shrimp, haddock and crab. Other seafood entrees feature scallops, mussels and haddock, each prepared three different ways. There are Thai-based entrees as well.

While the restaurant serves only dinner, lunch on the run in available through Johnson’s love affair with hot dogs. He recently commissioned the creation of an elaborate stainless steel cart from which his daughter-in-law serves up hot dogs midday in front of the restaurant. Johnson’s “delicious dogs” are dressed with an array of relishes that he spent many a winter month perfecting. This year, he plans to serve up his quarter-pound beef hot dogs on fresh-baked buns. He also will offer dogs roasted over charcoal on a unique grill he imported from Thailand. Also on the take-away luncheon menu is a hefty, no-mayonnaise-allowed, quarter-pound lobster roll.

The Fisherman’s Inn will open Memorial Day weekend. It’s located at Main and Newman streets, across the road from Mama Boy’s Bistro. Reservations are suggested, call 963-5585.

Correction: An earlier version of this story wrongly identified Bar Harbor restaurateur Michael Boland as involved in reopening a new restaurant in the Mama’s Boy Bistro building in Winter Harbor. While reopening the long-abandoned building owned by Roxanne Quimby is under consideration, those plans do not involve Mr. Boland.

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