WELLS, Maine — Lord’s Harborside Restaurant has been a staple of the Wells waterfront for more than 40 years.
But it is no longer.
Now the search is on for a new tenant to operate the popular seaside destination in Wells Harbor, which neighbors the Wells Harbor Park and Webhannet River Boatyard and marina, adjacent to the Webhannet River. The property has views of the harbor, Wells Beach and the Rachel Carson Wildlife Refuge.
A new tenant is needed because former owner David Kershaw decided not to run the restaurant next summer, but to instead concentrate his efforts on a new restaurant he plans to open this spring in Sanford, where he lives.
When Kershaw notified town officials that he would either lease the restaurant to another operator for the last year of his contract or close the seasonal restaurant for the summer of 2014, selectmen decided to act.
They let Kershaw out of his lease a year early.
In addition, although the town already owned the land on which the restaurant was built, it didn’t own the building. So, on Nov. 19, the selectmen approved the purchase of the restaurant building for $75,000.
The town is seeking proposals for a new tenant who could run a restaurant on a seasonal basis or even year-round, said Town Manager Jon Carter.
Already, said Carter, about a dozen or so restaurant operators have expressed interest in the site.
He added that this is not a project for a first-time restaurateur. Lord’s restaurant had been very successful under the previous tenant, said Carter. He said that he has every reason to believe a new tenant would also be successful.
According to the proposal for bids, the town is looking for a “first class” restaurant that is operated with the “quality of service commensurate with the waterfront, family-friendly atmosphere that has traditionally characterized the harbor.”
The space for lease is nearly 10,000 square feet, according to a statement prepared by the town, with approximately 6,600 square feet of usable interior space for dining and all other uses.
The building itself is in good shape, said Carter, although it could use some updating. He said it seats 150 people.
The town is looking to enter into a lease of up to 20 years with a new tenant.
The annual lease cost would be a minimum of $50,000 annually, although, said Carter, if major improvements were made, the town may be willing to lower the price.
Those interested in leasing the site must attend one of two mandatory walk-throughs at the restaurant. These are scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday and Monday.
Proposals must be submitted by 4 p.m. Jan. 17, and selectmen will choose a new tenant soon after.
The lease must be signed by March 31.
Carter said he expects the restaurant to be open by the summer.