ROCKLAND — Lexi Zable, owner of Port Clyde’s The Dip Net and The Barn in Port Clyde, has secured a new Rockland location for a third establishment, taking over The Eclipse and The Speakeasy on the corner of Park Street.
The Grey Owl Bar & Brill comprises both spaces and is currently in the midst of renovations, not only to improve the eatery’s aesthetic, but also to provide more partitioned space between diners per the COVID-19 mandates.
With The Dip Net and The Barn closed down for the season, the timing was right for Zable to jump on the opportunity to lease the Eclipse building. Citing the difficulties of running a seasonal establishment, Zable envisioned Rockland as a prime year-round spot for her team.
With staff helping Zable, she has already put in a number of hours painting the place (often after hours at night) with plans to refinish the floor renovate the décor and update the restaurant’s look.
“This place has so many memories for this community,” she said. “The downstairs bar has had a lot of evolutions over the years. My grandmother remembers coming here when it was the Red Jacket.”
At the time of this interview, Zable has been operating like all Maine restaurateurs under the state’s Stage 4 of the Plan To Restart Maine’s Economy. Stage 4 began Tuesday, October 13, 2020, increasing the limit on indoor seating to 50 percent capacity of permitted occupancy, or 100 people – whichever is fewer. That mandate changed on November 1, when Governor Mills announced new measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, effective Wednesday, November 4, indoor gatherings will return to a maximum of 50 people, regardless of capacity.
The restaurant was built out initially to accommodate 100 seats. Of the new change, Zable said, “We are going to follow all of the latest mandates and will have a maximum capacity of 50 people in the space.”
The pandemic has factored heavily into her opening plans, including erecting glass partitions between dining areas, installing sanitizable barnboard walls, and maintaining the proper distance between tables.
The Speakeasy space below the restaurant will function as a casual bar and dining space with a comparable menu.
The Grey Owl Bar & Grill’s menu features hearty, American comfort food. Zable created the menu with input from her chef Chad Upham from The Dip Net, who will serve as one of The Grey Owl’s chefs. “I wrote the menu, then re-wrote it, then pared it down, then made it bigger,” she said, laughing. “We’re going for American cuisine, really cozy and comfortable.”
They’ll be bringing back The Dip Net’s fan-favorite cheese curds with Maine maple aioli as well as mussels in a homemade cream sauce.
The entrées include a variety of steaks, from filet minion to ribeyes. Stick-to-your-rib dishes such as Maple Spring Chicken, Slow Braised Beef Short Ribs, (with or without mac and cheese) Veal Scaloppini, Blackened Chicken Carbonara with pancetta will be part of the menu’s appeal. “Other things we’ll have on the menu for the locals is fish tacos and fried chicken sandwiches,” she said.
Zable estimates a soft opening weekend on Friday, November 13, and remaining open for the three weekends in November, including Thanksgiving, in order to get the kitchen used to the new menu. When the bar and grill open full time in early December they hope to be open 5-7 days a week, eventually utilizing the bar as a later night establishment, “We want to be a first drink of the night place rather than the last drink,” she said.
For the weekends in November, reservations are required.
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