SOUTHWEST HARBOR— Ralph and Frances Reed have served ice cream, blueberry pie, pizza, burgers and an assortment of seafood options from Quietside Cafe at 360 Main Street for the last 24 years. This is their last season in that space.
It wasn’t necessarily their choice. There is a new owner of the building they operate from who has new plans.
“Our new landlord gave us this summer and that was it,” said Ralph Reed in a conversation with the Islander earlier this week. “We were devastated. We were ready to just walk away.”
But, members of the community and their patrons decided it wasn’t quite time for them to hang up their hats. Many suggested the couple take over an empty restaurant space in the Seal Cove Shops, but when they went to see if it would work, Ralph said they weren’t so sure.
“There’s a lot to be done,” he added and listed off painting, degreasing the space and stripping the floors. “A lot of people from the community have offered to help us move and paint and clean. It’s been heartwarming.”
Brandon and Laura’s Cafe was most recently in the space at 11 Seal Cove Road that is slated to be the new home of Quietside Cafe and Ice Cream Shop. For decades before that, it served many breakfast and lunch patrons as Cozy Cove Cafe.
“It’s bigger,” said Reed of the new space. “We can do baking and everything under one roof.”
Currently, the majority of the cooking and baking for their Main Street space takes place in a building they rent located behind the restaurant. Baked goods are one of the most popular items at the cafe.
“It’s probably our biggest draw,” said Reed about the desserts made by Frances. “My wife was always a great cook and a great baker. We do sell an awful lot of pies and cookies. Slices of pie just go out the door.”
Moving out of the center of downtown could mean a loss of foot traffic that keeps them busy during the season.
“Everyone told us when we started here we’d only have foot traffic, but we got lots more,” said Ralph. “People drive from all over to come here and they will when they find us.
“It’s going to be a challenge,” he added. “It was either that or just disappear.”
When they open the doors of the new location next season, the Reeds are planning to have outdoor seating and a few new menu items. “It’s going to take all winter to get it ready.”
Typically, Quietside Cafe opens for the season in April and closes in October. This year, they opened in April but will be closing on Sept. 12 in order to be out of the building by mid-October. Although there is space to seat about 20 people inside the cafe, the Reeds have been doing takeout only this season due to the pandemic.
“We’ve got a double whammy going on here because of COVID-19 and a new space,” said Ralph. “Closing early may be a triple whammy.”
He estimates they have another three to five years running the business before they sell it and retire. During the season, the cafe is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
“Twenty-four years is a long time,” said Ralph, noting that he and Frances have been at the restaurant every day that it has been open. “I’m still young. I’m only 71.”