BANGOR, Maine — Nearly a year has passed since owners of the Fish House Grill, a popular Bar Harbor restaurant for two decades, started negotiating with city officials to expand into Bangor.
Although talks intensified over the last three months of 2011 and an extension of the city’s 90-day, exclusive negotiating period for a plan to lease waterfront space was granted, nothing has resulted.
“We did have a lot of the leg work done and detailed planning invested into that, but something literally came up out of the blue that caused us to switch gears and go in a different direction,” said Jeremy Bond, president of Fish Maine Inc., the parent company of Fish House Grill, the Log Cabin Restaurant, and Cherrystones — the newest member of the Fish Maine seafood eatery empire.
“I would say maybe a year down the road, we’ll be ready for another project with renewed interest,” Bond said.
Cherrystones, a 280-seat seafood restaurant on Main Street in Bar Harbor, is the reason for Bond’s about-face. The indoor-outdoor restaurant on the corner of Main and Mount Desert streets — boasting a big patio bar and upstairs open-air seating — used to be known as The Parkside.
“Essentially, it came about out of nowhere, but it was an opportunity we had to look at, and all the stuff in Bangor kind of got pushed to the back burner,” said Bond. “We still have an eye on Bangor and our company is definitely interested in pursuing something on that up there.”
The Bangor plan involved a 17,000-square-foot parcel of waterfront land off Front Street south of the Sea Dog Brewing Co.
The Fish House first opened next to the Quality Inn in Bar Harbor as the hotel’s official restaurant in 1992.
“We had great conversations with them and enjoyed working with their team,” said Tanya Pereira, Bangor’s business development specialist, referring to Bond’s company.
She said the fact that talks are off for now “allows the City Council to continue our investment in the waterfront, such as the lighted trail system, and continue to refine the product we’re offering.”
Bond says Fish Maine employs 130 to 140 full- and part-time employees at its three restaurants.
The Fish House, which is closed during the winter, was at 7 Kebo St. for seven years before moving to its current location on the Town Pier in the Harbor Place building at 1 West St. The seasonal eatery boasts the largest oyster and raw bar in Maine and one of the largest on the East Coast, according to the Fish House website.