Demolition of the old West Street Café building last Wednesday. Lots of material from the building was salvaged, owner Kevin DesVeaux said, including the bar top. ISLANDER PHOTO BY LIZ GRAVES

West St. Café rebuild begins

BAR HARBOR — The new building in the works for the corner of West and Rodick streets will contain a restaurant and one apartment, just like the one it replaces. The former West Street Café building was demolished last week.

Café owner Kevin DesVeaux said a new building has been in the works for several years. He’s planning to reopen in the new building in time for the summer tourist season.

“I’ve been with that building for 17 years now,” he said, “and done my best to keep it going. The building, cobbled together over the past hundred years, had met its match with time. We joke with people when they ask why we repaint the building inside and out every spring – it’s to help keep it together!”

The oldest part of the building dates to 1905-1910, DesVeaux said. “Ironically, the oldest part foundation-wise was in the best shape.”

But the basement often flooded, and water damage had “destroyed much of the foundation and rotted the walls and floors above beyond reasonable repair.”

The design of the planned new building at 76 West St., to house the West Street Café and a three-bedroom apartment, was approved by the Design Review Board in November. PHOTO COURTESY OF TOWN OF BAR HARBOR

DesVeaux designed the new building himself in consultation with engineers. It has a flat roof and includes a 16-foot ceiling in the restaurant on the first floor, allowing for a mezzanine overlooking the harbor. The third floor is designed as a single three-bedroom apartment.

He received approval to demolish the old building from the Design Review Board (DRB) in November. A building permit for the new one was issued recently.

“When the green light came to do it, we had four days to empty the building,” DesVeaux said. “We wanted to recycle and repurpose as much as we can.”

Contractor Brian Shaw is doing the work.

It was a job getting the old bar top free during the demolition, using the excavator to tug it loose, he said. The bar top and the old bar ceiling will be used in the new restaurant, but DesVeaux is not sure where yet. Some of the windows went to a neighbor. Crews even saved the light bulbs.

“Now we’re full steam ahead on construction,” he said. “I’ll be really happy when I see a foundation in there next week.”

He’ll also return to the DRB to discuss signs, lighting and awnings for the new building, he said.

Liz Graves

Liz Graves

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Former Islander reporter and editor Liz Graves grew up in California and came to Maine as a schooner sailor.

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