PORTLAND – The windows have been covered in paper for weeks. A few signs tacked outside say, simply, “Don’t peek.”

But it may just be the worst-kept secret in the Old Port.

The rumors that have been buzzing around town about what’s going into the space at 425 Fore St., next to Five Guys, are true: Gelato Fiasco is opening a new store there in early December.

“We’ve been looking to come to Portland for years,” said Joshua Davis, who owns the Brunswick-based gelato business with Bruno Tropeano. “It’s just been our willpower that’s caused us to resist temptation to open a second store. Mostly for personal reasons, Bruno and I, as the two owners, didn’t feel that we were ready to take on another store.”

The addition of Gelato Fiasco will turn that part of Fore Street into a gold mine for folks with a sweet tooth. A new frozen yogurt place, GoBerry, just opened at the corner of Fore Street and Exchange. Just across the street from the Gelato Fiasco space is the Old Port Candy Co. and East End Cupcakes.

And then, of course, there’s Gorgeous Gelato.

The mom-and-pop gelato store, located at 434 Fore St., is just across the street and three doors down from the new Gelato Fiasco. And Donato Giovine and Mariagrazia Zanardi, who moved to Portland from Italy last year to start the business here, are not happy.

Giovine does not like the secrecy with which the situation has been handled. He said his customers have told him that opening another gelato shop right across the street is very disrespectful.

“It’s not a very clever move in business strategy,” he said. “If I were them, I’d go to Boston. The only thing I think is, they want to kill us as a business.”

Davis denies that. He says he and Tropeano have looked at 80 different locations in the Portland area during the past two years, “and have just not found the place we thought would make it work.”

When the Fore Street spot became available, Davis said, they both thought it was perfect for their business. It has “great foot traffic,” he said, as well as outdoor seating.

They nailed down the details in September and signed a 10-year lease.

“We respect Gorgeous Gelato,” Davis said. “They are doing it right there. For us, this is about Gelato Fiasco and about our own growth and what we’re offering.”

Gelato Fiasco has already been in Portland, in a sense, for four years. Gelato is delivered to the city twice a week and sold at Whole Foods, local restaurants and Bard Coffee.

Despite his concerns, Giovine said he doesn’t expect the competition will actually put him out of business, although both gelato shops might see some significant profits melt away. (Giovine has plans to open a second store too, but the location is, ironically, a secret.)

“I already know we have something more than them, because we are Italians selling an Italian product,” Giovine said. “The DNA of gelato, it’s Italy.”

Gelato wars aside, the new Gelato Fiasco will feature the same kind of large, curved gelato case that’s in the Brunswick store, and it will be filled with 28 flavors. The Portland store will employ at least 10 people, according to Davis, and be open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily, 362 days a year.

“We don’t close on snow storms or holidays,” Davis said. “We close on Christmas, Christmas Eve and Thanksgiving, and other than that, we’re here. People can rely on us to be their place to hang out.”

The Brunswick store is known for a wintertime policy that gives its customers 1 percent off for every degree the temperature outside falls below 32 degrees. The gimmick has actually led to bringing in extra staff on especially cold nights.

“We love it, because those are our hardcore customers, our biggest fans,” Davis said. “They get rewarded with a discount, and it packs the place on nights when we would otherwise be standing around looking at each other.”

Davis said he and Tropeano plan to hold “several parties” at the new Portland store leading up to its grand opening in early December. Check 425forestreet.com for updates.

“It’s a renaissance for frozen desserts in Portland,” he said. “A city of 62,000 people has two gelato shops, a frozen yogurt place and a half-dozen ice cream places all making great-quality products from scratch? That’s pretty exciting.”

Staff Writer Meredith Goad can be contacted at 791-6332 or at: [email protected]

Twitter: meredithgoad