For those returning to Maine for the summer, here's what's new

Welcome back to the Belfast area Snow Bats!

Mon, 05/09/2022 - 11:15am

    BELFAST—Much like last year, Belfast had a very low business turnover in 2022, which speaks to a strong economy.  Penobscot Bay Pilot has the rundown on everything that has opened and changed while you were gone.

    If you're wondering why Camden and Rockland get the Snow Birds moniker and Belfast gets Snow Bats, it's because years ago, the citizens of Belfast earned the affectionate nickname of Moon Bats.

    New Restaurants


    The hottest thing in restaurant news this year was the opening of two new restaurants in Searsport. In November of 2021, Rio’s Spiked Café, a European-style tapas bar and eatery opened at 357 W. Main St. featuring Romanian- and Scottish-inspired cuisine, a nod to the heritage of its owners, Oana and Russell Manton. Read PenBay Pilot’s story on Rio’s Spiked Café here.


    And in February 2022, Kirk Linder and Charlie Zorich, the owners of The Hichborn opened up a fun, funky, taco gastro pub on 25 East Main Street in Searsport, called Hey Sailor featuring “ TACOS+. ART. BOOZE.” One thing has been certain from the second the doors opened at Hey Sailor, the place is usually full within five minutes—it’s become that popular with the locals of Searsport. Read PenBay Pilot’s story here.


    Must Be Nice, the lobster shack run by lobsterman Sadie Samuels, won the bid to be the Belfast City Park’s new concession stand anticipating a first of June opening.  The menu includes regular lobster and crabmeat rolls, mini rolls, grilled cheese with a choice of lobster or crabmeat, hamburgers, and popsicles. 

    In March, the vacant space from the former “Neighborhood” restaurant at 132 High Street, turned into Fon’s Kitchen, a Thai restaurant named after co-owner’s Sarunya Rock’s childhood nickname, which means “falling rain.” Said her husband and co-owner, Dan Rock: “She’s a great cook and I call her a ‘curry genius.’ She makes her own dumplings from scratch using as many local ingredients as possible from local businesses. I’ve yet to have any dumplings in this state as good as hers.”Read PenBay Pilot’s story here.


    Meanwhile In Belfast, (no that’s not a preamble, it’s a former pizza restaurant) has closed permanently. In its place at 2 Cross Street, is Wicked Maine Pops, a new food and beverage shop opening on May 5 under the company umbrella of Northwoods Gourmet Girl LLC.


    A Caribbean restaurant, Jamaican Grille, that we somehow missed last summer, is re-opening their jerk shop at 37 Front Street, along the Harborwalk behind Front Street Grille.


    In Lincolnville, the former Youngtown Inn has been taken over Michael and Karrie Nowak and their new restaurant, Aster & Rose, targeting a late May opening. And just down the road at Lincolnville Beach, there are early signs that the Lincolnville Beach Store will be re-opening once again after being closed for the pandemic.


    Another Dunkin Donuts franchise has finally taken over the vacant space that used to house Wendy’s fast food restaurant at 22 Belmont Avenue. The franchise is drive-through and mobile order only.


    Business Moves


    Over the decades, The Grasshopper Shop, a family-run clothing and gift shop had locations in Belfast, Camden, Bangor, Ellsworth, Searsport, Stonington, and Bar Harbor. The original shop got its start in Belfast nearly 30 years ago, and is returning to its roots on 105 High Street in Belfast this summer.


    Short Shots


    The Colonial Theatre, which had been closed to the public during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, re-opened after a 15-month intermission last June. For those who weren’t aware, The Colonial,  a locally-owned three-screen cinema is back with a force, screening classic, cult, and new films in-person once again. See that story on PenBay Pilot.

    Kay Stephens can be reached at