Camden Harbor boatyard aims to be welcoming space for public

Salt Wharf, Lyman-Morse’s anchor restaurant, opens on Camden Harbor

Tue, 07/19/2022 - 11:15am

    CAMDEN—In little more than a year and a half, Lyman-Morse Boatbuilding, Inc has transformed the east side of Camden Harbor into a modernized marina. On Tuesday, June 12, Lyman-Morse celebrated its re-introduction to the community with the launch of its anchor restaurant, Salt Wharf.

    Five hours before showtime, the finishing touches of construction in and around the restaurant were taking place as the general manager was busy making calls and the chefs prepped in the kitchen. The Appledore and Surprise slipped back into the harbor ensuring anyone inside or on the rooftop bar would have a fantastic view.

    This is a working harbor and a new, improved vision of a welcoming boatyard, according to Mackenzie Lyman, Lyman-Morse’s spokesperson.

    About the restaurant

    The interior of the first floor is thoroughly glass-and-steel modern with a retractable glass garage door that can either open half of the restaurant to the salt air on good days and provide a snug space in inclement weather. The rooftop deck includes a wrap-around outdoor bar and several lounge spaces with million-dollar views.

    “We want this place to be comfortable for everybody from the deck hand to the captain.”  —Mackenzie Lyman

    The head chef is Chris Pierce, who has worked in Maine for several years, most recently at Sebasco Harbour Resort.

    “He brings such a wealth of knowledge and experience to this place, in addition to this remarkable calm, personality,” said Lyman. “Working with local purveyors, he puts things on the menu with a unique twist.”

    The opening night menu, which will switch up regularly, featured a raw bar section, including oysters and small plates, including deviled eggs with caviar. Other sections include soup and salad, main dishes, including a pan-roasted halibut, lobster pasta, and short rib and fingerling potatoes, sides, and dessert.

    “We wanted to create an unpretentious Maine seafood, Maine local fare sea-to-table menu,” she said. “We’re trying to provide good, locally sourced food that is still casual and fun. We’re also going to be offering a rooftop bar menu with smaller plates and what we call ‘dock beers’ from PBR to Red Stripe. Or you can have craft brews with an extensive wine selection. This place doesn’t have to be reserved for your fancy, anniversary dinner.”

    About the marina

    Lyman described a lemonade-out-of-lemons scenario in which the original marina had to be razed and redeveloped after the buildings were partially destroyed in June 2020 during a restaurant fire. Lyman-Morse completely rebuilt what was 33,000 square feet into 34,000 square feet.

    “In June 2020, we were all just coming out of lockdown and excited to start socializing again when things changed,” she said. “The mixed blessing in this was that the long-term plan had always been to improve the waterfront facilities. It’s been a cobbled-together hodgepodge of buildings over the decades. When people looked across the harbor, all they saw was an industrial space that wasn’t open to the community or to tourists. It became an opportunity to really build this place the way we wanted it, which is a modern working waterfront with a customer service vantage point. We wanted people to have amenities such as restaurants, shopping, office spaces, and a larger boardwalk with sitting areas.”

    Blue Barren Distillery + Restaurant operating in the next building over, has also recently re-opened with a new tasting room, restaurant with outdoor seating, and a store. Adjacent to that is the guest lounge space with laundry and shower facilities, along with day offices.

    “We’re all now used to working remotely now, so if you’re out sailing, you can still use the office for your business,” said Lyman.

    The guest lounge connects to Lyman-Morse Boatbuilding Inc’s administrative offices, which serve as the central hub of the facility.

    “We are a boatyard after all, so making this place friendly for both the employees and the customers was paramount,” she said. “We have everything customers need in the middle of the building development.”

    The marina has been designed to be a mixed-use space. The far corner of the complex houses three retail spaces, one soon to be occupied by Archive, a luxury consignment boutique. The other two are still open to rental. Inside that facade is the new rig shop. Above the retail spaces are the crew quarters, and three luxury boutique hotel rooms as an accessory use for customers and guests. There is also more rental space upstairs for both workspace and individual office space.

    “People who live here, work here, and visit here, can all use it,” she said. “We expanded the boardwalk to 20 feet. We would love people to feel part of this, just respecting the hard-hat areas, as it is still a working boatyard, but there are plenty of friendly spaces around here.”

    Lyman said parking has been expanded at the top of the hill and on the other side of the marina, just off Sea Street. They will also be providing valet service. Note to visitors: these areas are not public parking spaces for Camden, but instead, available for any of the marina services, retail spaces, and restaurants.

    A launch is now available to pick up people at the Camden Public Landing several times a day and deliver them directly dockside to the restaurant.

    “That’s going to be kind of a novelty for people who don’t spend time on the ocean to just hop on a boat and come over for dinner,” she said.

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    Kay Stephens can be reached at