SCARBOROUGH, Maine — Every summer throughout her childhood, on the way to her grandmother’s Pine Point beach house on Avenue 2, Sheila Masselli and her family admired the restaurant at 240 Pine Point Road.
“Everyone in my family would be like, ‘it’s a gold mine, because there’s nothing down here,’” she recalled each summer, when she worked at a burger shack in Old Orchard Beach owned by her parents. “I mean, you have fried food, but something a little different. There’s nothing really upscale.”
Twenty years later, Maselli will open her first restaurant venture in the area.
The Pine Point Grille, formerly the First & Last Tavern, will have a soft opening May 16-18 before officially opening Thursday, May 22.
The restaurant will serve what Masselli called upscale comfort food with an urban twist, with a mix of “two-handed sandwiches” from $10-$19, and Italian and seafood entrees from $20-$25.
Chef Ryan Hickman has experience at the award-winning Arrows Restaurant in Ogunquit and Back Bay Grille in downtown Portland, Masselli said. And the grill also will serve artisanal pizzas, with 15-year veteran pizza chef Rich McKinnon of Methuen, Massachusetts, tending the oven.
The interior of the restaurant features a sleek, black, 10-seat full bar with a flat-screen TV, and the menu will include breakfast — a decision that diversifies the eatery from the primarily fried seafood lunch-and-dinner fare in the neighborhood.
Masselli said she also plans to keep the restaurant open almost year round, with a month or two off in the winter “for sanity reasons.”
She said she will place an emphasis on things homemade and locally sourced, with house-made pasta, and meat and vegetables from nearby farmers, whenever possible.
Prices might raise eyebrows, but Masselli said she feels tourists and locals will pay a bit more for better quality.
“I think people are foodies nowadays, they know good food,” she said. “If they’re going to go out and eat well, they’re willing to pay a little more.”
Other new features include an outdoor patio waiting area, with an entrance reserved for take-out service. If neighbors and the town permit, Masselli said she would consider more outdoor seating.
Masselli has worked for a paper manufacturer in Boston for the past 10 years, but she comes from a family full of food industry veterans. Last July, she said she decided on a whim to move to Pine Point Beach to a beach house on Avenue 3, just steps from where her family has spent summers for nearly a century.
“I feel fortunate that I can come back here,” she said. “I think my Nana would be amazed.”
Masselli said she hopes her restaurant can add to the sense of community in the neighborhood.
“Pine Point is special to me,” she said. “I’m happy I’m bringing a business here that will employ local people and be a gathering spot.”