The space of the former David's KPT restaurant in Kennebunkport, which abruptly closed last week. Credit: Jennifer Bryant | York County Coast Star

Kennebunkport Resort Collection Founding Partner Tim Harrington announced in a press release that David’s KPT, the popular Dock Square restaurant featuring renowned chef David Turin officially closed that same day, sending shockwaves throughout the community.

“We were so honored to have a chef and restaurateur of the stature of David Turin on board when the hotel and restaurant opened in 2013. He was essential to this project, and we will be forever grateful for his contributions,” Harrington said in the release.

According to posts on social media, employees were given no notice of the closing, with many showing up for their shifts to work Monday to find managers standing in the parking lot and a sign on the door.

Whitney Butts of Arundel is a student at the University of Southern Maine and has worked at David’s KPT for two years, helping to put herself through school. She had no idea at all the the restaurant was closing.

“I was definitely blindsided. Now the frantic search to find a new job and make sure my bills are paid begins,” Butts said.

Turin said he didn’t see the closing coming either.

“I’m really, really disappointed. I found out about 12 hours before the crew,” he said. “It’s really sad. I had a very unique partnership with the KRC. I’m super proud of what we did there, but at the end of the day, I was an employee of the KRC too.”

Harrington said in the release that the space located at The Boathouse Hotel at 21 Ocean Ave. will reopen with “a new concept to be revealed in early 2018”.

The restaurant was very successful, so that was not the reason it closed, Turin assured.

“They want to go in a new direction with that space, and I think their pattern is to make changes like that,” he said.

Turin said the KRC gave him the opportunity to do something he wouldn’t have been able to do on his own.

“They gave me a great opportunity. I did something that I wasn’t sure I could do. We seated 1,000 to 1,200 people a day, and to serve on that scale, we were able to do it. To provide the quality of food at a reasonable price point, that is something I was proud of,” Turin said.

Turin indicated that he will focus on his three restaurants in Portland — David’s, and David’s Opus 10, and David’s 388 in South Portland.

Turin said all three are doing very well. David’s at 24 Monument Square in the heart of downtown Portland just underwent a major renovation and that has breathed new life into the space and given it a fresh look.

“We had a nice response to that, the fresh look helped us a lot, and we are still growing. Even with all of the new restaurants, we are doing really well, we’ve had our best year yet in Portland,” he said.

Turin said while he has a non-compete clause that does not allow him to hire David’s KPT employees at his other restaurants, he has been able to refer them to his network of restaurants looking for staff.

“I can refer people, and I’ve been doing that,” Turin said.

He also said that the KRC is actively helping people find new jobs as well.

Laura Dolce, executive director of the Kennebunk-Kennebunkport-Arundel Chamber of Commerce, said it’s not a good time of year for food service workers in the area to be looking for work.

“A few months ago places were cutting their business hours because they couldn’t find enough people to work,” Dolce said. “But now places are either closing for the season or scaling back, so it’s hard.”

Dolce said local businesses are sympathetic and if they have an opening they can fill with David’s KPT employees they are doing so. She said if employees contact the Chamber they will be happy to connect them with businesses to help with a match.

Local residents took to social media Monday expressing shock and sadness about the closing.

Turin said that he felt embraced by the Kennebunkport community from the day David’s KPT opened in March of 2013. He said he enjoyed his time on the waterfront with locals and visitors as well.

“I’m kind of a community guy, I like to be out and visible. I believe that when you have a business in a town it’s the right thing to do to be a part of the community. I felt embraced by the locals, absolutely,” he said. “I think the abrupt nature of this thing is what hurts the most, and I understand that.”

Harrington did not return requests for comment on this story.

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