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New owners to buy Whale's Tooth Pub & Restaurant

By Susan Mustapich | Dec 17, 2020
Photo by: Susan Mustapich Chris and Martha Nickerson are buying the Whale's Tooth Pub & Restaurant at Lincolnville Beach in early January. They are keeping the current menu and restaurant hours the same.

LINCOLNVILLE — New owners buying the Whale's Tooth Pub & Restaurant in Lincolnville in early January, are taking over the business as is, while keeping the current menu and hours.

They will also be burning four-foot logs in the pub's fireplace, as is the Whale Tooth's tradition.

Chris and Martha Nickerson, who hail from Connecticut and New York City, had been looking for a business to purchase in Maine, with a long-term plan to live in the state. They both love Maine, have been vacationing here and even want to retire in Maine, though that is a long way off.

When they found that the Whale's Tooth was for sale, it was fortuitous because it's on the water, Chris said. He loves boating and sailing, and he and Martha have their boating licenses. "This is like a match made in heaven," he said.

While going through the rigorous process of applying for commercial lending, they had to go to three banks, before finding one willing to lend during the pandemic, Chris explained. The First bank saw the vision we wanted to put in place and know the historical success of the Whale's Tooth, he said.

Long-time owners Dorothee and Rob Newcombe had already put in place measures that follow requirements for restaurant operation during the COVID-19 pandemic, including spacing out seating and barriers between booths.

Chris is originally from Mystic, Conn., a seaside town. He worked as head of human resources for TriMark, the largest commercial restaurant design and supply company in the country.

Martha grew up in New York City, where her family had a restaurant pizzeria. She worked for the family business before going on to a career in the customer service and event industries.

Both were looking for a lifestyle change. After working for 30 years in corporate America, Chris said it was a good time make a break, and use all of his experiences and apply them to an already successful business.

The Nickersons are excited to offer wonderful food, great service and be a part of and contribute to the community.

"The Newcombes have done a wonderful job of growing and nurturing this business, and they are staples of the community," Chris said.

"We wish to carry on that tradition. They have afforded us with that opportunity with how well they've managed this wonderful family-owned business."

The Nickersons will take over the business as soon as the sale, scheduled for Jan. 4, is finalized. The Newcombes have done a nice job managing safety through the pandemic, and the Nickersons plan to continue on with that operation.

In the future, the Nickersons plan to slowly use their creative juices and put their own spin on the restaurant, with care and concern for the traditions that have made the Whale's Tooth successful.

The Newcombes opened the Whale's Tooth Pub & Restaurant in January 1994, in the middle of a snowstorm, Dorothee said. "It was a very exciting day for many people in the area, because there was no real pub around in those days," she said.

At the time, they were "retiring" from over 25 years with another, high-energy restaurant and bar, in a ski area in the province of Quebec on the Vermont border.

The building had been vacant for eight years before the bought the property, which has 400 foot of oceanfront on the Penobscot Bay. They had two young children, and moved in to the residence above the restaurant,

They started as a mom and pop operation, with Dorothee doing the cooking and Rob washing the dishes, and then were able to hire two employees.

"It was a 10-year retirement plan that went awry, and here we are 27 years later," Rob said. "We've never regretted a day of moving here."

On and off, they have put the restaurant up for sale. Now, selling the restaurant is bittersweet, Rob said. "You can't spend that number of years in a business without attaching yourself to it. Otherwise it wouldn't be successful," he said. The only reason they are selling the business is because of their age, he said. Rob said he is 75 years old, and Dorothee said she's younger.

Chris and Martha came along are were interested in starting a new life, in a new location, Rob said. "We feel they're the most ideal couple to do this. They have experience with people, which is a big part of this business. We feel very fortunate."

Dorothee pointed out they are not moving very far. "We're just going two houses north," she said. The Newcombes are also keeping their business, The Beach Cottage Inn.

The two have been involved in the community for many years. Dorothee served for six years on the Board of Directors for the local Chamber of Commerce and for many years as President of the Lincolnville Business Group. Rob is one of the founders of the Lincolnville Boat Club, which teaches youth sailing.

Last week, they were surprised to be awarded "Citizens of the Year" by the Belfast Chamber of Commerce.

Restaurant and pub hours are 11:30 a.m. to closing on the weekends, and 4 p.m. to closing Wednesday through Friday. Currently Maine has mandated a 9 p.m. closing time for restaurants.

For more information about the Whale's Tooth Pub & Restaurant, call 789-5200 or email info@whalestoothpub.com.

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Comments (1)
Posted by: ANANUR FORMA |

Congratulations and welcome, have always loved the food there, and the view. happy for you to find the ideal place.



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