STOCKTON SPRINGS—The former private Stockton Harbor Yacht Club has been transformed into a public restaurant called The Club Marina and Bar and its quiet harborside vibe is a hidden gem.
Owner Jillian Liversidge and her husband, Sandy Liversidge, purchased the shuttered building six years ago. First, they created the nonprofit Stockton Harbor Yacht Club, which Liversidge said brought many people together. Both she and her husband grew up on boats and envisioned a place for boaters and community members to meet and share that would benefit the area. In December 2020, the yacht club as an entity, vacated the building.
“So, there we were with a waterfront building and what do you do with that?” she asked rhetorically. “You start a restaurant.”
Liversidge grew up cooking in her mother’s restaurant in Harpswell.
“I was working on Bailey Island with my mom starting at 15 years old,” she said. “In my family, food is love. Before I worked in the restaurant business, I worked summers banding lobsters on my dad’s boat. I also truly enjoy the social aspect of a restaurant and meeting new people.” she said. Liversidge waited on tables all through college, and even part-time after becoming a world language teacher in 1998.
The restaurant has been open for a month while Liversidge gets her bearings. Like all restaurateurs navigating the challenges of the pandemic, she has been dealing with supply chain disruptions; thus keeps her menu short, seasonal, and local—and it changes every week.
“Sourcing food locally is important to me as a Mainer,” she said. “We get a lot of our produce from the Jergenson Family Farm, just up the street. Lobsters come from Stockton Harbor fishermen and other seafood comes primarily from Maine fishermen through Maine Shellfish. I am actively working with farms that raise meat for consumption as well. Not being able to find a food distributor has actually been a blessing, as I am developing direct relationships with the farmers closer to home, many of which are right here in Stockton Springs.”
Liversidge’s strong ties to the community have paid off as some of her friends are farm partners, servers, and kitchen staff at the restaurant.“The community has been extremely supportive,” she said. “We’re small and still navigating what our clientele wants on the menu. Whatever my friends have in their gardens--that’s likely going on the menu that week.”
Consisting of small plates and main fare, the menu crisscrosses different cultures with staples such as Asian chicken, pulled pork sandwiches, nachos, Szechuan noodles, and a Quiche of the Day. Many are favorite recipes that Liversidge has collected from various friends and family members over the years and during her travels. “The bacon-stuffed dates and the bruschetta have been very popular,” she said. “We’re allergy-friendly and entirely nut-free. We have gluten-free options, vegetarian options, as well as vegan choices.”
The Club bar is cozy, exactly what you’d expect a former yacht club bar to be, in a separate smaller room with views of the ocean. With the help of her friend and bartender, Michael Labenski, the bar menu consists of Maine craft brews, a mostly organic wine list, and some craft cocktails using seasonal ingredients such as the Cucumber Splash (Bombay Sapphire Gin, muddled lime, cucumber, agave, and basil, topped with soda water.)
The waterfront deck is unsurpassed and uncrowded unlike many of the harborfront restaurants in the summertime; a haven for many locals who just want a getaway.“We plan to have live music regularly, and theme nights, such as burger night, margaritas and fajitas, and wine tastings,” she said. “We also hope to offer brunch in the future.”
Due to staffing challenges and Liversidges’s plans to continue teaching in the fall, the restaurant is only open Thursday through Saturday from 4 to 10 p.m. Her crew is still working on how late the restaurant and bar will be open into the fall season.
The Club Marina and Bar is located at 12 Cape Docks Road. Find out more on their Facebook page.
Kay Stephens can be found at firstname.lastname@example.org