Forty years ago, there were a handful of places in Bangor where you could get a drink and a bite, hear live music, and maybe meet a cute guy or a pretty girl. One of the most popular places to do that in the 1970s and ‘80s was Benjamin’s, a bar and restaurant on Franklin Street in downtown Bangor that hosted countless bands and potential romances over the years.
Years after the original Benjamin’s closed its doors, a Brewer couple is resurrecting the former downtown staple, with a plan to bring it back to its original roots: food, drinks and camaraderie.
“We’re a bar and a restaurant,” said Richard “Clarko” Clark, who this week will open the new Benjamin’s Pub with his wife and co-owner, Mandy. “We don’t want to be open ‘til last call. We’re not a nightclub. We just want you to have dinner, have a drink, watch the game, play some pool, listen to the jukebox. We want that ‘Cheers’ vibe.”
Gone are the dance floor, the DJ booth and the backyard patio, which were the main attractions at the many bars and clubs that took the place of the original Benjamin’s in the late 1990s and 2000s. A fully refurbished kitchen, new seating and a huge floor-to-ceiling video screen showing various sports games enhance the neighborhood pub feeling.
The new Benjamin’s has been in the works since December 2018. The Clarks have spent the past five months renovating the basement bar at 123 Franklin St., doing most of the renovation work themselves.
“I’ve worked in the restaurant industry for 30 years, and I’ve owned two restaurants. I always used to say, ‘Never again,’” Richard Clark said. “Then Mandy caught me looking at the listing for this place one night. And here we are.”
Emily Burnham is a Maine native and proud Bangorian, covering business, the arts, restaurants and the culture and history of the Bangor region.
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