WELLS, Maine — William “Billy” Hobbs, the founder and former owner of Billy’s Chowder House, will be opening a new waterside eatery in Wells in May.
The Board of Selectmen unanimously agreed Feb. 18 that Hobbs should be granted the lease to town-owned restaurant space at Wells Harbor. The location had previously been leased to Dave and Pam Kershaw, who operated the popular Lord’s Harborside Restaurant from 1969 until it closed last fall.
Hobbs is well known to the Wells community as the previous owner of Billy’s Chowder House, which has been a favorite restaurant in Wells for both tourists and residents since 1978.
Hobbs said he has been looking for the right opportunity to get back into the restaurant business since selling Billy’s Chowder House in 1990.
“I’m absolutely elated,” Hobbs said about winning the lease.
The town of Wells has always owned the land under Lord’s Harborside, but purchased the building from the Kershaws last December after it closed.
The Board of Selectmen issued a request for proposals in January for individuals interested in opening a new restaurant starting this summer. Hobbs was one of three parties who submitted a proposal. One reason the selectmen said they chose Hobbs was that he was the only Wells resident to submit a proposal. At a selectmen’s meeting in January, the board members expressed their desire to see someone with ties to the community be awarded the lease.
The agreement between Hobbs and the town is a 10-year lease with two five-year lease renewal options after 10 years. Hobbs will be leasing the property at Wells Harbor for $75,000 for the first year with increases in subsequent years reflecting changes in the Consumer Price Index.
Hobbs said he has plans to renovate the building, including relocating the kitchen, which will provide diners with an extensive view of Wells Harbor.
“The hopes and vision of operating a restaurant at Wells Harbor is just what I have been waiting for these last several years,” he said.
Hobbs plans to offer a variety of choices on his menu including seafood, steak, chicken, salads, and daily pasta specials. He said there will also be “lighter fare” available for diners as many people are interested in choosing healthy menu options.
Hobbs considers Wells his home and has given back to the community in many ways. He has served on several civic boards including WEMS, the Wells Chamber of Commerce, Wells Rotary, and the United Way.
If renovations are complete, Hobbs intends to open Hobbs Harbor Side in May. He said he plans on hiring local staff and vendors wherever possible.
Town Manager Jon Carter completed the lease negotiations with Hobbs.
“The town is pleased that we could conclude lease negotiations so quickly and do what we can to ensure the success of Mr. Hobbs with the harbor restaurant,” Carter said. “Billy is an extremely capable restaurateur and will do a great job with the leased facility. We look forward to opening day.”