Pearl Kennebunk, a basic 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, situated at 27 Western Ave. in Kennebunk, shall be Aug. 22. In a word to her prospects 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 a lot of notable Maine eating places and bars, together with Vinland – which served all native meals – the Previous Port Thai restaurant Cheevitdee and Flood’s, all in Portland. The Cider Home on town’s West Finish and Arabica’s Industrial Avenue espresso home have been additionally pressured to close down.
Federal help helped many different eating places hold their doorways open because the pandemic raged on, however now that help is now not accessible, 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 time 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 widespread (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 chief 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 referred to 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 house 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 effectively acquired. The Maine Sunday Telegram gave the restaurant four stars in 2018.
However from the beginning, there was trouble. A malfunctioning sprinkler system brought on $400,000 in injury earlier than the restaurant even opened. Then got here 2020 and a world 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 time with 30 % much less workers.
“I took a giant threat after 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’ll be able to’t put that on a plate and eat it, and you’ll’t pay your mortgage with it.”
Charles says diners who’ve present certificates ought to name the restaurant and go away a message, and she is going to do her greatest to squeeze them in earlier than it closes. She may also honor Pearl Kennebunk present certificates at her restaurant in New York.