In this May 1, 2020, file photo, Rick Savage, the owner of Sunday River Brewing Co., addresses reporters outside of his restaurant. Credit: Charles Eichacker / BDN

Sunday River Brewing Co. in Bethel is slated to reopen next week under new owners and management after a year of notoriety for skirting state COVID-19 restrictions.

Owner of the restaurant Rick Savage told the Lewiston Sun Journal he and his brother, Ron, have sold the business for an undisclosed amount to a Bar Harbor restaurateur Michael Boland. While the restaurant wasn’t on the market, Savage said the price Boland offered was right.

“We got what we wanted, so we sold it,” Savage told the paper. “We’re businessmen, we own seven companies; this is not our only operation.”

Boland said he plans to reopen the restaurant June 9 and that he’s applied for all the relevant licenses through the state under a “totally new corporation.”

The restaurant has been the center of attention over the past year after Rick Savage defied Gov. Janet Mills’ COVID-19 restrictions put in place early during the pandemic.

Initially, Savage reopened his restaurant in late April 2020, in violation of Mills’ orders, and by May 1, 2020, the restaurant was stripped of its health and liquor licenses, which are legally required to serve food.

In November 2020, a judge ordered the restaurant closed for 30 days because of repeated health violations. Days later Savage and his brother, Ron, were found in contempt of court for ignoring the judge’s order.

Savage filed a lawsuit with other business owners challenging Mills pandemic restrictions but dropped it in November.

A month later, the restaurant was ordered to pay a $34,000 fine and allowed to reopen but could not sell alcohol until after Christmas 2020.

Boland told the Journal the most important thing right now for him is getting the business back up and running again.

“What matters at this point is getting the restaurant back up and running and getting the many folks that have worked there in the past and some new ones working again,” Boland told the newspaper.

The restaurant is expecting to employ about 60 people and hosted a hiring event June 3.

Boland owns several restaurants across the state, including Havana Restaurant in Bar Harbor, Northeast Harbor’s Copita and the Choco-Latte cafe in Bar Harbor and the Islesford Dock Restaurant & Gallery on Little Cranberry Island, according to the Journal.

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Sawyer Loftus

Sawyer Loftus is a reporter covering Old Town, Orono and the surrounding areas. A recent graduate of the University of Vermont, Sawyer grew up in Vermont where he's worked for Vermont Public Radio, The...