PORT CLYDE — The tiny roughhewn bar room in Port Clyde known affectionately as "The Poon" was packed to the rafters April 24, its first opening night under new ownership. Chris Chadwick, a scallop fisherman, recently bought the original Harpoon restaurant with his mother, Cindy Chadwick. They’ve renamed it The Black Harpoon, based on its original name dating back more than 30 years.
There was "huge excitement when the news got out we were re-opening," said Neva Joseph, who used to own Craignair Inn in Spruce Head and worked for Linda Bean. "People were happy that a local boy bought it."
Chadwick persuaded Joseph to leave her position with Bean’s company and come oversee the Black Harpoon as the general manager. "I've known Chris since he was in junior high. I couldn't say no to his dream," she said.
According to Chadwick and Joseph, the original bar/restaurant was owned by Ed Black and Gary Harper more than 30 years ago. Then it was bought by Johnny Morse and Wayne and Carol Curtis, who had it for 20 years. The Harpoon burned down in 1991 and was re-built. When it was sold again, it sat on the market for several years. Last January, the Chadwicks purchased it.
"It is a local establishment, but the tourists love it. People from all over have been calling to see when we're opening," said Joseph.
Nothing to the original bar has changed. "We wouldn't dare," said Joseph, laughing. They've just added more draught beers to the bar, as well as an Angry Orchard Hard Cider.
Most seafood restaurant chains try to approximate the look of authentic maritime decor, but hard as they might, they'll never come close to the Black Harpoon. It's a fisherman's bar — the real deal. Original lobster buoys donated from local lobster fishermen hang from the ceilings and rafters while faded photographs of locals in grade school, high school and college, and war-time portraits line the walls.
A gentlemen coming up to the bar to order a Grey Goose on the rocks noted dryly, "I've known just about every one of these people [whose images grace the walls]; I dated some of them too."
For the tourist, it just looks like a clump of lobster buoys and gear hanging from the rafters. For the locals, every time you look up, you're seeing someone's family name and years of stories attached to the buoy's color scheme.
Roger and Betty Libby were one of the first to check out the bar's re-opening. Their sons are both fisherman. "We've been coming to this bar for 30 years," said Roger Libby. "We're very excited it's back." To prove their kinship to the place, Libby pointed out his naval photo in the corner of the bar and on the very opposite wall in the same place, his wife, Betty's photo as a young woman.
Joseph said the dining room has been redecorated and the restaurant will be opening May 9.
"A local well-known lady, Barbara Mann, is cooking for us," said Joseph. "You could say she's sort of a celebrity around here. When we put it up on Facebook that Barbara Mann was going to be cooking for us, people went crazy. She cooked for years at the Ocean House. Her signature breakfast dish of home fries, eggs, ham and a secret cheese sauce is called 'The Morning Sunrise,' which is like a cardiac arrest in a dish," said Joseph joking.
The Black Harpoon will be open for dinner Monday through Saturday. On Mother's Day, they will be serving from noon to 6 p.m. They will now be serving breakfast on Saturdays and Sundays and will open for lunch starting in July. They plan to stay open in the winter on a limited schedule (Thursday–Saturday). Find them on Facebook or call 372-6304.