A Franklin Street restaurant has closed until Dec. 3 due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in Maine and recent visits from a city code enforcement officer due to anonymous complaints submitted on a state website.
Benjamin’s Pub has been following all the coronavirus protocols and has not been issued any citations by the city or the state, owner Richard Clark said Tuesday.
“We closed Thursday,” he said. “The numbers are rising and we want to make sure that everyone is safe.”
Clark opened the pub in June 2019. As the pandemic hit Maine, the restaurant closed before it was mandated by Gov. Janet Mills, he said. It did not reopen until September.
A form on the website for the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development allows people to register complaints anonymously about businesses they believe are not following or enforcing the restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Those complaints are forwarded to local agencies.
In Bangor, that is the city’s code enforcement department, according to Clark.
“The first time someone came down to check on complaints, he found nothing,” the business owner said. “The second time he came down at 10:30 on a Saturday night earlier this month and brought two Bangor police officers with him.”
Clark assumed the officers were there to give him a summons for non-compliance but they also found the restaurant was following the protocols.
Last week, someone made a video of the restaurant. Clark said he got a call on Thursday from a “health inspector” who did not cite Benjamin’s for any violations.
“It all seemed like a bit much,” he said of the attention from officials.
Clark said the complaints submitted to the website weren’t serious and were untrue, but did not say whether they complained of people not wearing masks, improper signage or other violations.
“Everyone’s a little anxious right now,” Clark said.