Winter Harbor bistro plans to reopen

This story was published on June 15, 2005 on Page B2 in edition 2 of the Bangor Daily News

WINTER HARBOR – An upscale restaurant that has become a local landmark will open this summer after all.

Bar Harbor restaurateur Michael Boland has agreed to lease Mama’s Boy Bistro from owner Roxanne Quimby. He plans to open Friday, July 1.

That gives Boland about two weeks to choose a head chef and contact local farmers. But he is confident everything will be ready to go on opening day.

“I think it will be a nice night,” he said Tuesday. “It’s an excellent restaurant.”

The future of the bistro, a sprawling three-story building in the center of town, was uncertain after Quimby’s son, Lucas St. Clair, and his partner, Jen Amara, decided not to run the business this year.

Quimby sought another manager for the restaurant, which has become quite popular since it was built three years ago.

Ethan Knechel, a student from New Jersey who worked in the kitchen last summer, said he was disappointed by news that the restaurant might remain closed for the season.

“I thought it was a shame that this place wouldn’t be up and running,” he said. Now, he hopes to rejoin the staff as a cook. “I can’t imagine this place not being used.”

This week, Quimby celebrated the new arrangement and wished Boland good luck.

“I am very pleased that Michael Boland, a premier restaurateur on Mount Desert Island, has decided to extend his reach to Winter Harbor to favor the local population, summer residents and tourists with his cuisine,” she said.

Boland, 37, already has a full plate. He owns two restaurants, Rupununi and Havana, as well as Joe’s Smoke Shop, Carmen Verandah and the Criterion Theatre, all of which are located in Bar Harbor. His Bangor restaurant, Guinness & Porcelli’s, closed five months ago.

But Boland said he was drawn to the beauty of the bistro, which features an open kitchen visible from nearly every seat in the building. The dining room is striking, with its maple and mahogany woodwork and large windows overlooking the waterfront.

He plans few changes to the establishment and wants to preserve “the atmosphere that Mama’s Boy has had over the last few years,” he said.

“I want people to come in and say, ‘OK, it’s back. It’s still here,’” Boland said.