After a few weeks of negotiations, Matt Haskell, owner of West Market Square restaurant Blaze, and his business partner, Evelina Kacprzkowska, have purchased downtown Bangor coffee and sandwich shop Giacomo’s from former owner Brett Settle.
Haskell said he was dismayed to see the negative public reaction to the closure of Giacomo’s, and he reached out to Settle shortly after New Year’s about potentially buying the business from him. Settle, who owned and operated the business for seven years, abruptly closed Giacomo’s on Dec. 23, 2016, laying off all his employees with little warning.
“It isn’t easy for small business people. It’s a tough business. I felt for the guy,” said Haskell. “I didn’t buy this for much personal gain, though of course, I want it to make money and be successful. But that corner needs to be open in downtown Bangor. It’s just important to have it open. It’s a point of pride.”
Haskell and Kacprzkowska signed the deal with Settle on Tuesday. They plan to reopen in early February, after some minor renovations and cosmetic improvements to the building.
“We’re rebranding a little bit. We’re slightly revamping. It’s going to be a gourmet market alongside a coffee shop and cafe,” said Haskell. “We’re going to have a coffee bar still, and a smaller panini menu — like 10 paninis, instead of 20 — and a new chopped salad bar, where you get a piece of paper and check off what you want in it, and then we make it for you.”
The deli case full of cold cuts, wine and beer will be replaced by a small, rotating selection of cans and bottles from high end Maine craft breweries, such as Bissell Brothers and Oxbow, and a cooler full of local cheese and vacuum-sealed local meat and seafood.
Haskell hasn’t decided yet whether to keep the pizza menu, but he may reintroduce it after opening.
Whether or not the new Giacomo’s will accept the coffee cards and gift cards sold under the previous ownership remains to be seen, and Haskell said he is working on a resolution.
For coffee, Haskell plans to use Acadia Coffee Company beans, an organic and fair trade line of beans, roasted in Bar Harbor. The drip coffee will remain, as will the espresso bar.
Haskell said he isn’t sure what will happen, but he’d like to keep the enormous mural hanging from the ceiling above the deli counter — a rather morbid but eye-catching painting depicting the 1937 shooting by FBI agents of wanted criminal Al Brady out on Central Street, just a few feet from where Giacomo’s now stands.
“I know it’s kind of dark, but it seems like it’s a part of the place,” said Haskell. “It shows Bangor history. I like that.”