CAMDEN—Many wondered what would become of the classic Scottish pub Drouthy Bear after owners Andrew and Shannon Stewart announced last May that the COVID-19 virus restrictions on their beloved pub had forced them to permanently close.
The Midcoast community will be happy to know that the building has been purchased and is currently being renovated by Camden newcomers Gabriela Acero and Derek Richard to become a new restaurant. With a new aesthetic and flair, the restaurant will be called wolfpeach—the name in lower case—which comes from Lycopersicum, the scientific name for ‘tomato’.
“It has all come together rather quickly,” said Acero.
Relocating from Oxford, Maine, the couple said the COVID-19 pandemic spurred the leap to open their own business.
“We wanted to take the next step in our lives, both personally and professionally, and find a place where we could put permanent roots down,” she said.
Acero, who grew up in Maine, has more than 10 years of front-of-house experience, ranging from fast-casual to fine dining, mostly in New York City. Richard, who began his career at Blue Hill Stone Barns in New York, also spent time in Austin pursuing BBQ, until choosing to settle down in Maine. The couple met while opening Oxbow Beer Garden in Oxford in 2019.
“My background is mostly in fine dining in New York and Texas before I landed in Portland,” said Richard. “For this restaurant, we wanted to put together a steakhouse-style menu, where everything is a la carte, which is a familiar format, but modernize it with different cuts of meat—whole-animal butchery. We plan to add a lot more vegetables in the main courses, and of course, make fish and seafood central highlights. It's really important for us to focus on using local and seasonal ingredients whenever possible.”
Richard mentioned he also specializes in baking naturally leavened sourdough bread.
While several Midcoast restaurants have made the decision to close until spring, and some permanently, Acero and Richard knew they had to adapt their restaurant to the current reality.
“We blocked out our numbers assuming we were going to be operating as take-out only at first, and then perhaps limited seating in the summer,” said Acero. “As someone who has been in this industry a long time, I feel strongly that the tipping culture and lack of job security and benefits have always been problematic, so we’ve built our model to be a non-tipping establishment and our employees will also receive health benefits.”
Acero was careful to clarify that having not opened yet, this model is still something they will need to keep a close eye on, once the restaurant is able to operate at full capacity. “I hope that we can follow through on these goals and promises,” she said. “We’ve worked on this idea for some time and it took the pandemic to see if we can really make this happen.”
The couple aims to open by March with a slightly modified menu, more suited for take-out.
Kay Stephens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org