HOULTON, Maine — Fifteen employees in Houlton and Presque Isle will enter the new year knowing that they lost their jobs now that two Amato’s Restaurants in Aroostook County are closing.
The franchises in Houlton and Presque Isle, owned by Micah Desmond and his wife, Jessica, will close Saturday, Desmond announced Wednesday.
At the same time, the Houlton Police Department is still looking for whoever broke into Amato’s in Houlton on Sunday, Dec. 29, during the overnight hours. Desmond said that Maine State Police have recovered a safe that was stolen from the restaurant, which was dumped in Westfield. He is not sure if the thieves were able to break it open and retrieve money from it.
Micah and Jessica Desmond first opened an Amato’s Restaurant in April 2012, at 379 Main St., Presque Isle. Amato’s sells pizzas, pasta, subs and other fare and is open for lunch and dinner service. It opened in Portland in 1902 and has locations across the state, Vermont and New Hampshire, according to its website.
In May 2013, the Desmonds opened an Amato’s in Houlton. Micah Desmond said that they chose Houlton because of its proximity to the Canadian border and its location at the end of Interstate 95.
Desmond said Wednesday that several factors have contributed to his decision to close the stores.
“Its the economy, I am experiencing some health issues, and it is tough to be in two locations at once,” he said. “We knew before we started that this was a risk, but we tried it. We don’t think that business is going to pick up any this winter.”
He said that they had made the decision to close even before the burglary at the Houlton store. Desmond said that the thieves broke open a drive-through window to gain entry. He believes there was more than one burglar, as the safe that was stolen was very heavy and could not have been carried away by one person alone. He said he is going to the police station soon to look at video footage from a nearby camera that may show the perpetrators.
Desmond said he is closing the stores on Saturday to give customers time to use up their gift cards.