ELLSWORTH — Restaurants here cater to a variety of tastes, offering Mexican, Thai, Chinese, Italian and seafood specialties. But late-night diners looking for a plate of pancakes at 1 a.m. have been out of luck — so far.
By the end of next May, that will change, as a new Denny’s restaurant on High Street should be dishing up steak and eggs and Belgian waffles 24 hours a day.
“We want to open early enough to smooth out any glitches before the tourists arrive,” said Declan O’Connor, the project manager for developer Realty Resources of Rockport.
The restaurant will displace the farmers market and seafood stands that now use the lot at the corner of High and Dean streets, and will provide competition for the city’s many locally owned restaurants. It will be the first Denny’s in Maine north of Auburn, though Realty Resources is building another in Rockland. Maine now has four Denny’s restaurants, two in Portland and one each in Auburn and Brunswick.
“I think [Ellsworth] is an excellent location for someplace like this,” said O’Connor, explaining that the commercial district is busy year round as well as being the gateway to Bar Harbor.
The proposed one-story stucco restaurant, surrounded by more than 80 parking spaces, will seat 150 and employ about 100 people to serve up its beef burgers, round-the-clock breakfast and occasional Southern specialty such as chicken-fried steak. A lounge eventually will be added to the restaurant.
Realty Resources has been planning the project for about a year, said O’Connor, and the final engineering designs arrived on Code Enforcement Officer John Dunn’s desk just before Christmas. Construction on the 5,000-square-foot building is slated to begin in January. The lot, which now slopes, will be filled in to the level of High Street. Nine catch basins will prevent rainwater from eroding the hill behind the site and flooding back yards below.
“Drainage is going to be their big problem,” said Dunn. “Everybody down there has instant swimming pools in the spring.”
Drainage from High Street downhill to the Union River has been a growing problem as the commercial strip has been built up, but Dunn said the nine storm-water drains should handle the runoff from the parking lot, and he plans to approve the plans shortly.