New owners of historic Searsport sea captain’s house reopening shuttered restaurant

SEARSPORT, Maine — Inside the new Homeport Tavern previous 7 days, it was a blur of exercise as the proprietors got prepared for opening evening on Friday, June 17.

With suppliers dropping by and a dining space continue to underneath renovation, there was a large amount to do. But the baby grand piano was presently in put and a pot of gumbo was simmering on the stove — which both seemed to fit with the concentrate on hospitality and fantastic foodstuff that homeowners Arnaud Lessard, Allison Lessard and Kip Dixon have in intellect for the cafe.

Three people stand next to a sign that reads "homeport tavern"
Arnaud Lessard, Allison Lessard and Kip Dixon are the entrepreneurs of The Homeport Tavern, which is aspect of the Homeport Inn on East Most important Street in Searsport. They are planning for a soft opening that they hope will be later on this month. Credit history: Linda Coan O’Kresik / BDN

“We seriously want to have exciting below. We want to bring live music and good foods,” Arnaud Lessard, 45, explained. “This is not likely to be a seasonal restaurant. This is a motivation to our future and to this town.”

The Homeport Tavern, which is section of the Homeport Inn on East Main Avenue, is one particular of numerous new restaurants to open up in Searsport within the earlier 12 months, indicative of a restaurant increase in the small coastal city. It joins other newcomers which includes Rio’s Spiked Cafe, Hey Sailor! and RasDal Falafel.

However in the modern previous, the oceanfront neighborhood has been overshadowed by its southern neighbor, Belfast, Searsport is now acquiring a minute — and he’s glad to be element of it, Arnaud Lessard mentioned.

“I think that we have obtained a massive press for travel tourism in Maine, and I consider that Searsport is actually hitting its stride,” he said. “There’s a good deal of good items likely on here.”

The Lessards, who are married, and Dixon have a lengthy background in the hospitality field. They met while working in the same cafe in Newburyport, Massachusetts, a lot more than 20 yrs back. Dixon, 53, who originally hails from Mobile, Alabama, is a chef. Allison Lessard, 49, who grew up in Farmington, Maine, has a diploma in interior design and a qualifications in task administration. Arnaud Lessaurd labored in hospitality management for 25 many years, and most a short while ago was part of a group that opened The Whitney Resort, a luxury boutique hotel on Beacon Hill in Boston.

But the get the job done they are executing in Searsport, on a sea captain’s mansion created in 1865 by Captain John P. Nichols, feels distinct. The trio procured the inn and tavern in February, following seeking for a house on the Maine coastline. The Italianate constructing, full with an elaborate cupola, was stated on the National Sign-up of Historic Spots in 1983.

The Homeport Inn had been open up seasonally, with the preceding owners trying to provide it for a amount of yrs. The tavern — previously the Mermaid Pub — experienced been closed for seven decades.

A sign reads "the homeport tavern"
The Homeport Tavern, a new Searsport restaurant, will provide elevated cuisine year-spherical in an old sea captain’s property from 1865. Credit rating: Linda Coan O’Kresik / BDN

As the new proprietors obtained deeper into the undertaking, they uncovered water problems and a general emotion of benign neglect that they essential to tackle. Just one detail they haven’t been bothered by are the ghosts that allegedly haunt the inn. Inspite of the time they have expended refurbishing the constructing, Arnaud Lessard claimed they have not sensed any spirits.

Extended operate times flowed into every other, and in excess of the last 13 months, they’ve taken only three times off.

“This is most likely the hardest factor I have at any time accomplished in my life,” Allison Lessard claimed.

The benefits are well worth it, they stated.

“People say ‘it appears to be amazing,’” Arnaud Lessard said. “We’re happy of all the operate that we’ve done. We’re reclaiming floors that experienced four layers of paint and covered in carpet. We’re just attempting to carry the splendor and attraction back out of this creating and hope it is properly obtained.”

The tavern is a cozy, welcoming place with a stone fire in the lounge space. The restaurant at first was developed in the 1980s for an proprietor who dreamed of opening an English-model pub, and the brickwork, wall sconces and inviting wooden bar all ring accurate to that aspiration.

The inside of a tavern with chairs and a fireplace.
The Homeport Tavern, a new Searsport cafe, will offer you elevated delicacies calendar year-round in an old sea captain’s house from 1865. Credit rating: Linda Coan O’Kresik / BDN

“It’s a area you can arrive to unwind, get absent and practically disguise. It is a hideaway,” Arnaud Lessard said.

The different eating home has a distinctive attractiveness, with black-painted walls and the aforementioned piano.

“The vibe is black and brass and gold,” Arnaud Lessard claimed. “This is actually simplicity in magnificence.”

It’s a superior backdrop for Dixon’s creations, which will integrate both of those classic New England flavors and Cajun, Louisiana-design and style favorites. There’s the mouth-watering gumbo, a savory stew that serves as a enjoyable postcard from his roots. But there will also be seasonal specialities like summer season risotto and burrata caprese salad as very well as sandwiches and burgers that will be on the menu just about every day. Other selections will include things like bangers and mash and St. Louis cut smoked ribs, with most meats like bacon and pork belly healed and smoked in home.

Desserts may incorporate specialities like bourbon praline bread pudding.

“I’m entirely wanting forward to all the seafood in this article,” Dixon said. “I want to use as several nearby merchandise as attainable. I do want to alter it up. I want to continue to keep people astonished and enthusiastic.”

He’s been pleasantly amazed by the warm welcome he has observed considering that moving to Maine in February.

The Homeport Tavern in Searsport. Credit history: Linda Coan O’Kresik / BDN

“I like Maine so much. I’m fully enamored with the hospitality listed here,” he reported. “People are pleasant. It is a breath of contemporary air.”

The Homeport Tavern’s dining area at 121 East Principal St. in Searsport will be open from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5-9 p.m. on Wednesday as a result of Sunday. The bar will be open till 10 p.m. on those people days. For a lot more information, check out the internet site or phone 207-548-2259.