Pearl Kennebunk, a traditional American brasserie owned by the identical restaurateur who launched New Yorkers to the lobster roll, is closing.
The final day of service on the restaurant, positioned at 27 Western Ave. in Kennebunk, will probably be Aug. 22. In a be aware to her clients on social media, chef/proprietor Rebecca Charles listed an assortment of issues that, when taken collectively, created an ideal storm the enterprise couldn’t survive.
“Staffing and monetary difficulties, exacerbated by the pandemic, have confirmed to be insurmountable,” she stated.
The coronavirus has claimed quite a few notable Maine eating places and bars, together with Vinland – which served all native meals – the Outdated Port Thai restaurant Cheevitdee and Flood’s, all in Portland. The Cider Home on town’s West Finish and Arabica’s Business Avenue espresso home had been additionally pressured to close down.
Federal support helped many different eating places maintain their doorways open because the pandemic raged on, however now that support is now not obtainable, and with staffing and provide points including to already heavy monetary burdens, there could also be extra closures on the horizon.
Charles herself instructed the Maine Sunday Telegram earlier this summer season that she expects to see “loopy ripple results” from the pandemic on the restaurant business within the coming months.
Pearl Kennebunk was a longstanding dream for Charles, who additionally owns Pearl Oyster Bar in New York Metropolis. Her small Manhattan restaurant turned wildly in style (and broadly copied) for its informal seafood menu when it opened in 1997. However even again then, Charles – whose household has summered in Kennebunk since 1917 and who was as soon as the manager chef on the famend White Barn Inn – all the time wished a sister restaurant in Maine.
Charles bought the Western Avenue property in 2016 and in fall of that 12 months opened an oyster bar within the basement known as Spat Oyster Cellar, a nod to the oyster saloons and cellars that dotted New York Metropolis within the 1800s. The next 12 months, she opened the upstairs eating room as Pearl Kennebunk. As she labored on the restaurant, she additionally constructed herself a brand new residence and is now a full-time Maine resident, commuting to New York Metropolis when she must.
The meals at Pearl Kennebunk has all the time been nicely obtained. The Maine Sunday Telegram gave the restaurant four stars in 2018.
However from the beginning, there was trouble. A malfunctioning sprinkler system precipitated $400,000 in injury earlier than the restaurant even opened. Then got here 2020 and a worldwide pandemic, adopted by extreme staffing shortages. Charles shortened the restaurant’s hours, streamlined the menu, and blocked reservations. Regardless of elevating pay, she started the summer season with 30 p.c much less employees.
“I took a giant danger once I opened this restaurant in Maine, and it hasn’t been financially profitable,” Charles told the Maine Sunday Telegram in June. “(It’s been) critically profitable, however you may’t put that on a plate and eat it, and you’ll’t pay your mortgage with it.”
Charles says diners who’ve reward certificates ought to name the restaurant and depart a message, and she’s going to do her greatest to squeeze them in earlier than it closes. She may also honor Pearl Kennebunk reward certificates at her restaurant in New York.