Hope comes to Camden bearing fish ‘n chips and a sense of community

Stewarts bring Drouthy Bear to Camden for a bit of Scotch and steak pie

Posted:  Monday, April 6, 2015 - 8:30pm

Story Location:
50 Elm Street
Camden  Maine
United States

CAMDEN — A bit of Scotland is getting seated on Elm Street in Camden, in a little old house — eccentric, one could call it — with lots of nooks and crannies, circular staircase and bright floral wallpaper. Perfect for a Scottish pub where the kitchen will come alive with baking and frying, and a dining room full of conversation.

This is where Andrew and Shannon Stewart, their two children Harris and Tildy, plus a lot of local friends, are planning to open the Drouthy Bear later in the summer, after they tear down an old kitchen, build a new one, and create dining and takeout spaces.

“Drouthy” means dry or thirsty in Scotland. The Drouthy Bear will be a traditional Scottish pub, said Andrew.

“This will be a place where the community comes to visit, and will be accessible to families,” he said. “This won’t be a bar with people doing shots.”

But there will be whiskey, 20 to 30 types of Scotch, representing different regions of Scotland.

Andrew knows good whiskey and good beer. He is considered an expert when it comes time to talk about either. This Scotsman formerly owned Hope General Store and created a community hub where locals shopped for groceries, visited with each other, and ate meals in the store’s small dining alcove. He sold the store and moved on to other projects, but his appreciation of spirits remains intact.

“There will be British and Scottish beer,” he said. “Beer is a very important part.”

Food will also be a big part of this latest enterprise, with a dining room filled with tables, plus a room dedicated to takeout (coolers in that part of the pub will be stocked with beer and wine to take home, as well).

In total, there will be room for approximately 30 to 35 diners. There will also be a small outdoor seating area, and out back, a playset for children.

In the kitchen, they will be cooking fish and chips, and savory steak pies. There will also be ice cream, though which kind has yet to be determined.

“It will not be Good Humor,” said Andrew. The ice cream, and other ingredients, will be predominantly Maine-sourced, he said. The price point on the meals are intentionally affordable, he said, with the aim at $12 to $14 a plate.

The Stewarts bought the former Good House at 50 Elm Street just as winter was edging into spring in Camden. This week, Stewart’s brother-in-law, Chris Pinchbeck, is ripping into the old kitchen, filling a dumpster with rotten lumber. It is an old house, built sometime in the late 1800s, and its points are all over the place.

The back part of the house will be torn down and replaced, but the rest of the building, with its roadfront bay windows still outfitted with lace curtains, will be cosmetically updated only.

Andrew pointed to the floral wallpaper lining the walls behind the circular front staircase.

“We’re keeping this,” he said. “We like it. The carpet [a dusty old rose burgundy], that will be torn up.”

The project is still early on, and the Stewarts are just now getting a building permit. But they have the state’s approval that they are more than 300 feet from the Montessori School and the two nearby churches. As work progresses, they will seek a use permit from the town, and the assorted state permits necessary before opening.

The Stewarts almost didn’t settle on Camden. For a while, they were pursuing the idea of establishing a takeout in Rockland. But then the Good House went on the market, and their course corrected.

“We are very happy to be in Camden,” said Andrew. “It seemed like a good location, accessible and in town.”

He declined to comment on the level of investment it will require to get the Drouthy Bear underway. The upstairs may be rented out as office space, or the Stewart family might move in there. They haven’t decided.

In the meantime, their family and friends are in full support.

“I’m the GC in the house,” said Pinchbeck, who has a studio at Hope Corner, where he makes his signature bagpipes. Right now, though, his truck is backed up to the barn outside 50 Elm and he is prying old microwaves and kitchen cupboards from the walls inside.

Joe Rusillo, of Main Street Design Studio, is the project architect, and his plans were submitted last week to the Camden Code Enforcement Office, where planner Steve Wilson is now looking them over.

Heartwood Company will provide construction services, and Hedstrom Electric will take care of the wiring.

Hiring cooks and staff will come later, said Andrew. “But we’ve got a list coming together.”

Reach Editorial Director Lynda Clancy at LyndaClancy@PenBayPilot.com; 207-706-6657