PORT CLYDE – Lexi Rackliff-Zable is the new proprietor of the Dip Net Restaurant in Port Clyde. In February, Rackliff-Zable signed a three-year lease with Linda Bean’s Perfect Maine. Rackliff-Zable said that she does not own the property; rather, she is the new owner and operator of the business and Linda Beans’ Perfect Maine has nothing to do with the restaurant.
The Dip Net is scheduled to reopen May 31. Interestingly enough, the Dip Net has great significance to Rackliff-Zable.
She grew up in Spruce Head, on Wheeler's Bay, and comes from a lobstering family. Rackliff-Zable said her first job was at the Dip Net when she was 16, and working for Scott Yakovenko.
"I went to school and the goal was always to run a restaurant and own a restaurant," Rackliff-Zable said. "I went to Johnson and Wales and got a culinary degree and then a bachelor’s in food and beverage management. I actually worked at the Dip Net during that time so I've worked for both Scott and Linda Bean."
Most recently, though, she worked for Archers on the Pier in Rockland doing a variety of jobs from serving to bookkeeping to whatever needed getting done.
"I have two small children too, so they fell in that timeline, as well," she said. "My son is three and my daughter will be one on May 15."
Rackliff-Zable also met her husband while working at the Dip Net.
"I had just turned 22 and it was one of those days where someone had hit a power line," she said. "There was no power, but we stayed open. I was the manager at that time and we had the steam pot hooked up and the beer was still flowing, so Luke, that's my husband's name, came down with his cousin and I knew his cousin so he introduced us."
Rackliff-Zable said there will be changes to the menu.
"We're still going to have all the local favorites like the fry baskets and the lobster rolls," she said. "The Herring Gut Learning Center kids have greenhouses, so I've talked to them about getting some fresh greens. We just want to bring as much local produce as we can to help bring the local feel back."
Rackliff-Zable said there will be some specialties on the menu, as well.
"We're going to have an eight-ounce tenderloin filet with lobster meat in warm hollandaise sauce on grilled asparagus spears,” she said. "That's fancy. We'll also do a lobster pie that's lobster meat cooked in a sherry, butter, cream sauce with a cracker crumb topping. There's also be a complete kids’ menu."
Rackliff-Zable said she hopes the restaurant will be open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week. She said the restaurant will close around Columbus Day weekend.
"I haven't worked here the last few years, but I know that Linda and her team worked hard to keep their theme going throughout their restaurants," she said. "I think the local feel might have gotten lost along the way, but they did a great job at marketing their menu. I'm really passionate about the local theme and I'll be here all the time, so that will help."
Rackliff-Zable said the restaurant will have a full liquor license.
"It is Port Clyde, after all," she said.
Anyone who has been to the Dip Net knows it is a small kitchen to work out of and things can get crazy when it's busy. The restaurant has six tables inside and 10 picnic tables outside.
"We're actually struggling to find kitchen help," she said. "Everyone wants to be a server. I was hoping to train people and not have to directly work in the kitchen, but it seems at this point I will be cooking. Which is fine, I know how to cook, but still if anybody needs a job we're happy to talk to them."
The outdoor seating will be covered and have heaters for those chilly days.
"I'm a little nervous right now," she said. "I think it's only because I don't have any control over anything, yet. There's no way to make changes or improvements because I'm in the waiting game, waiting to open, but I've been working really hard to get all my ducks in a row."
Rackliff-Zable said they plan on doing their best to keep things fresh, local and fun.