Joseph’s Fireside Steakhouse, a Waterville staple with local residents and businesspeople, is for sale at $995,000.
The owners of the 100-plus seat restaurant, which pulled in gross revenue of almost $2.23 million in 2018, said the business is profitable and they are selling for personal reasons.
“My original goal was to keep it for five years and then sell it,” said Kevin P. Joseph of Waterville, who bought the restaurant in 2011 with business partner E.J. Fabian. They own the restaurant equally.
Both men owned other businesses. At the time of the purchase, Joseph still was running the family business, Joseph’s Market, a meat seller on Front Street in Waterville. Joseph said his grandfather bought the market in the early 1900s when he immigrated to the United States from Lebanon. The family sold the market in 2015.
Fabian still owns Fabian Oil in Oakland and two Bedside Manor nursing homes.
“I am 61 and have worked since I was 13. My wife and I have only taken off for two weeks,” Joseph said. “We have two grandchildren now. We want to make up for the things we didn’t do.”
Fabian said the partners put the restaurant on the market quietly late last year. Malone Commercial Brokers is selling it.
The original price was set high at $1.3 million to test the waters, Joseph said, but it is now listed for $305,000 less, including furniture and fixtures.
“We aren’t in a hurry,” he said of the sale. Joseph said there has been interest, but a lot of potential buyers are unsure because the restaurant is independent, not a chain.
The restaurant will have been in business eight years at the end of this June.
The restaurant business is challenging, and most restaurants close during their first year of operation because they are undercapitalized or nearby competition is too stiff. The 70 percent that make it through the first year close in the next three to five years, according to statistics cited by Arizona Central. However, 90 percent of those that make it past the five-year mark will stay in business for at least 10 years.
Joseph’s appears to have filled a niche in the local market, attracting both locals and visitors.
About 70 percent of the steakhouse’s customers are local, including from Augusta, which is 20 miles away. Among the awards it has won is for Greater Augusta’s best steakhouse, an award from Market Surveys of America that it has won for five years in a row.
Located at 99 West River Road, the steakhouse is about 2 miles from downtown Waterville, 1 mile from Thomas College and across from Pine Ridge Golf Course.
The steakhouse, which occupies the building that formerly housed Chinese restaurant Jade Island, originally filled a gap left when Steve’s, a downtown Waterville restaurant that specialized in steaks, closed several years before Joseph’s Fireside opened.
“Joseph’s was a new steakhouse in an area where we didn’t have one in a while,” said Dick Giguere of Waterville, who owns three Ware-Butler hardware and building supply stores.
Now, Joseph’s attracts a regular crowd and usually requires a wait to be seated on weekends.
“It is well known,” Giguere said. “They have a following. Lots of locals and old friends come to happy hour at the bar. It’s like a melting pot.”
Ed Roderick, an Oakland resident who retired from Sappi Fine Paper about six years ago, goes to the restaurant with family and friends. He said he often sees retirement and holiday parties on the side porch, and businesspeople and parents of students from nearby Thomas and Colby colleges.
“It’s worth the trip. This is mostly a hometown, private restaurant,” he said. “It’s very comfortable. You can see deer grazing outside in the evening.”
Since Joseph worked most of his life in a butcher shop, he said the restaurant distinguishes itself by cutting all of its own meat on the premises, including grinding its own hamburger.
That means the meats are fresh USDA choice and prime meats rather than frozen or lesser cuts that may need to be tenderized with needles or soaked in a tenderizing solution, as is customary at some other restaurants, Joseph said.
“Their meats aren’t frozen. The steaks taste like steaks,” Roderick said.