Belfast pub is growing up, owners say

Posted May 03, 2012, at 6:22 p.m.

BELFAST, Maine — Known among the city’s several watering holes as a place where younger revelers congregate to drink, listen to music, dance and have a good time, the former Lookout Pub is being transformed into a more family-friendly, food-based bar.

Like its owners, Tina DelSanto, 32, and Katherine Loblein, 31, the Lookout is growing up, the businesswomen said. It will be rechristened as the Front Street Pub after renovations are completed in the next few weeks. A grand reopening is scheduled for the weekend of May 19.

“Do you want to have a wild and crazy club, or something you love?” DelSanto asked, explaining that she loves to serve good food, before mischievously adding, “not that there’s anything wrong with wild and crazy.” And in fact, that duality will guide the new business, with the place becoming “a little more refined, with a great bar, great atmosphere, great cocktails, great food, but still dancing,” especially later at night and on weekends, she said.

DelSanto operates two other businesses in town with Anthony Jackovino, and both are restaurants — La Vida and Delvino’s Grill and Pasta House. She wants to incorporate her love of quality food at the Front Street Pub as well as reach out to families.

In addition to the name and concept change, the building is undergoing a transformation.

“It was stale and needing a face-lift,” Loblein said. She, too, has other business interests in town, running the gift and clothing store KatWalk.

A wider outdoor deck with built-in tables has been added, more booths are being installed inside and the large game room out back — where patrons can play pool, Foosball and air hockey — will be separated from the bar area by a wall. Booths are being installed in the game room where the kitchen was and new windows have been added that will give diners views of the busy Belfast Boatyard, sure to be a hit with tourists.

The pub’s location, on Front Street near the former railroad station and a stone’s throw from the harbor, is transforming from a seedy part of town to a lively, thriving district, thanks in part to the arrival of the Front Street Shipyard. The shipyard has been up and running since last summer, but it continues to grow and add buildings.

A long-planned harbor walkway may come to fruition this summer; it will, fortuitously for business, pass by the pub’s rear entrance.

The new menu features Maine-themed fare with names such as “Lazy Man’s Lobster” and “Crab Cake Plate” and “Chicken Dicken,” which includes Maine cheddar cheese, as well as more exotic food such as the Bourbon Street Tofu.

“We live in this amazing place so that’s what we’re going to promote and offer,” said Loblein.

But make no mistake — the transformed pub still will be a place to hoist a drink or two with friends. The bar will feature Maine-brewed beers on tap, including one from the Marshall Wharf brewery next door, Belfast Bay’s Lobster Ale, Portland’s Shipyard brews as well as Black Bear Brewery in Orono. Maine-made liquors also will be featured.

And a corner of the pub still will be staked out for DJs to spin music, with room for a little of that wild and crazy to kick up its heels.

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