SOUTHWEST HARBOR — The former Dockside Inn at 48 Shore Road across from the town dock in Manset reopened this past weekend under new ownership and with a new name.
Peter Trout Tavern is owned by Ryan Lamon and Alex Loftus. The pair purchased the 48 Shore Road property in December and have spent the past few months renovating both the downstairs restaurant and the six rental units upstairs.
After a soft opening for family and friends, Peter Trout opened to the public this past Saturday. “It was a great night,” Lamon said. “We sat 60 plus people.”
“It’s kind of quirky,” Loftus said. “It’s not a typical tavern. Not a sports bar, not an Irish bar.”
One of the first things customers see when they walk in, on the mantel above the brick wall, is a collection of miniature chairs of various colors and styles.
“Those were a gift from an artist in Los Angeles, a childhood friend of my parents,” said Loftus, who grew up on Mount Desert Island. “She gave them to me because she knew I’d appreciate them.”
The renovations to the restaurant only took a few weeks, Lamon said. “The bulk of the work downstairs was taking down the wall to expose a brick wall.”
It was the upstairs rentals that needed most of the work. “When we bought it, it was very Florida Brady Bunch,” he said. They replaced the flooring, got rid of the popcorn ceilings, re-taped the joints between the drywall, and added personal touches like headboards built from old farm doors.
“Alex has been a huge guiding force for the aesthetic,” said Lamon. “She has an off-kilter way of thinking about concept and of the work.”
Loftus earned a bachelor’s degree from Eckhard College in St. Petersburg, Fla., and a Master of Fine Arts in photography from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Currently, the work of local artist Minya James, who Loftus found on Instagram, hangs on one of the walls.
“Rotating art will allow us to be a gallery space,” said Loftus.
The idea to call their restaurant Peter Trout came to the pair on a road trip. “It seemed like a fun name for a tavern,” said Lamon who began his cooking career 19 years ago in his father’s barbeque restaurant in Georgia and has since worked as a chef in New York, Salt Lake City and Los Angeles.
“My background is southern,” explained Lamon. “But we are trying to embrace what Maine does well — seafood, produce, even beef. We’re working with Wee Bit Farm in Orland which raises Berkshire pigs and Highland cattle. The only better beef I’ve had was in South America. That’s because the cattle from Wee Bit Farm is grass fed and slaughtered humanely.”
The restaurant will also use Old Dog Baking Company bread.
Lamon describes the restaurant as “a from-scratch, American concept, but not what you expect. We want our food to be approachable but elevated. It’s a Swiss Army knife of a place.”
Lamon and Loftus are working with Maine brewers to create a diverse beer and wine list. And, they’re especially excited about cocktails.
“We want to embrace the beauty that is global cocktail culture,” said Lamon.
“But nothing fruity,” Loftus added. “Keep it just an old-fashioned, a Sazerac.”
They hope to introduce forgotten Maine cocktails like the Bullshot, which is a Bloody Mary with beef consommé.