HOULTON, Maine — When Micah Desmond and his wife, Jessica, first opened an Amato’s Restaurant in Presque Isle last April, they envisioned eventually opening several more locations throughout Aroostook County.
What they did not envision was that it would happen so soon.
Just one year after they opened the doors of their first restaurant at 379 Main Street in Presque Isle, they are set to open another in Houlton.
During a Town Council meeting on Monday evening, Micah Desmond was granted a victualer license to set up shop at 127 North Street. The location was recently occupied by Kentucky Fried Chicken and had also once housed a Dunkin Donuts.
“This was a lot sooner than we thought it would happen, but we could not pass up the opportunity,” Desmond said Wednesday afternoon. “The owners of the closed KFC approached us and that just set the ball rolling.”
Desmond said that the move was possible mainly because they have not had to do many renovations.
“All we have had to do is paint and put up a few walls,” he said. “It was a restaurant so it is pretty set up for what we need it for. Everything is up to code already and we were able to get a good deal on some of the equipment that was already in the building.”
Amato’s sells pizzas, pasta, subs and other fare and is open for lunch and dinner service. It opened in Portland in 1902 and now has locations across the state and in Vermont and New Hampshire, according to its website.
Desmond said that they chose the Houlton site because of its proximity to the Canadian border and its location at the end of Interstate 95.
“We think we can pull people right off the interstate, and Houlton is not saturated with sit down restaurants like ours,” he explained. “Once we get settled there, we also hope to expand our catering.”
He acknowledged that the one downside to the North Street location is that the driveway is hard to get out of, as its on a busy route and motorists have to cross several lanes of traffic to exit the yard.
“I think that we are just going to let our food speak for itself because if people like the food, they are going to come to the restaurant,” said Desmond.
He expects to open in May and employ approximately 15 people.
He said that business at the Presque Isle location has been steady.
“The winter is hard and sometimes people don’t realize that we have parking in the back of the restaurant and not just on the street, but things have been going well,” he said. “We are really excited to be expanding.”