BELFAST, Maine — It’s been pretty quiet in the large building on the Belfast waterfront that was home to the Weathervane Seafood Restaurant until the eatery closed for the season in October 2014 and never reopened.
But that’s all going to change soon, according to Jenifer Oakes of the Nautilus Seafood & Grill in Belfast. She and the other owners announced this week they will move to the Weathervane location this fall and open there in December.
“We are super excited,” Oakes, one of the three owners, said Friday. “We’ve been working on this deal for months. Today is a great day.”
Nautilus opened on the city’s east side in 2012 and has won fans with such dishes as fried calamari with banana peppers, roast prime rib au jus, pan seared scallops and clam chowder.
Oakes said she and partners Roz Peters and Ron Mitchell are looking forward to getting downtown, a move they think will be good for year-round business. The restaurant employs as many as 30 people in the busy summer season.
“That’s where our hearts are, really, and also, it’s such an amazing location,” she said. “It’s the best location within miles and miles. I think it’s a really nice fit for us and what we do.”
The Weathervane, a Kittery-based New England chain, opened its Belfast location on the waterfront in 1985. In January, the company announced it would close four of its locations, including the restaurants in Brewer, Waterville and South Portland, because of economic conditions. Belfast, a seasonal location for the Weathervane, was not on the list. Nevertheless, it remained shuttered during the start of the 2015 summer season, which worried some in the city.
“The community’s been very concerned about what would happen with the Weathervane space,” Breanna Pinkham Bebb, the director of Our Town Belfast, said. “It’s very important to Belfast. It’s an anchor location, and it’s right where the boats come in.”
She said news that the Nautilus restaurant will move downtown is welcome.
“We’re fortunate it’s a business we’re excited about, and one that already has a following in Belfast,” she said. “We do hear all the time from folks that although Belfast has a great reputation for restaurants, we need more of them.”
Oakes said her restaurant will lease space in the waterfront building and that the Nautilus crew will spend the month of November renovating.
“The whole place should be cozier, warmer and more comfortable,” she said. “We have plans for the outside, to spruce it up, get rid of the picnic tables, do some planting and make that whole area seem a little nicer.”