Freeport’s historic Jameson Tavern, which closed suddenly this month, is for sale and could reopen under new ownership or with the current owner operating the restaurant.
Matthew Cardente, a broker with Cardente Real Estate in Portland, said the sale price for the 7,782-square-foot property at 115 Main St. has been reduced from $2 million to $1.85 million.
The sale would include a tenant, Brahms Mount – a textile company that produces blankets and throws – which entered into a long-term lease in October for the main dining room of the Jameson Tavern and second-floor office space. Those spaces were renovated to accommodate Brahms Mount.
Cardente said there are two potential sale options. One would involve a sale to a new restaurant owner, and the other would allow the current owner to lease the restaurant space – about 3,500 square feet – from an investor. Under either option, Brahms Mount would remain in its current location.
Built about 1779, the property next to L.L.Bean’s main store has been a favorite local gathering spot since 1801.
Jack Stiles, 73, of West Bath has owned and operated the Jameson Tavern for nearly 32 years. He bought the restaurant on May 2, 1981.
“There are 42 places to eat in Freeport right now, and we were one of the casualties,” Stiles said Tuesday, referring to the competition and the weak economy.
Stiles said 25 full- and part-time employees lost their jobs when he closed the Jameson Tavern, a decision he deeply regrets but had to make. Some of those employees, including two members of his wait staff, worked at the restaurant for more than 25 years.
Stiles blamed the closure on the economy and a business decision he made.
To downsize his restaurant business, he said, he decided to lease space to Brahms Mount earlier than he wanted to because the blanket company had to move into the space by October.
“By renting it to them when we did, we lost October through December. Those months have produced some of the best sales of the year for us in the past,” Stiles said. “The timing was bad.”
Stiles said he also failed to account for the space he lost in the lease agreement with Brahms Mount.
When he sought bank financing to pay for enclosing the Jameson Tavern’s outdoor patio, he could not get approval for a $100,000 loan.
An enclosed patio could increase the restaurant’s seating capacity from 70 to 110.
“We need to put an addition on the restaurant to make it work,” Stiles said.
Janet Dutson, executive director of Freeport USA, which is the local merchants association, bemoaned the restaurant’s closing.
“It is always a loss when a business that has that much name recognition with Freeport closes,” she said. “I’ve lived in Maine my entire life, and, like L.L. Bean, the Jameson Tavern is synonymous with Freeport.”
Dutson said Old Navy plans to open a new store in Freeport Village Station, a downtown shopping center, and a brewery is building a new facility on Route 1.
“Things are looking really good in Freeport,” Dutson said. “We’d all love it if another form of the Jameson Tavern took over that spot.”
Stiles said that if he can find an investor-owner who is willing to lease the restaurant space back to him, he would consider running the restaurant as the Jameson Tavern.
If that option is selected, Stiles said, he would lease the restaurant space from a new owner for 10 years.
“I would keep the name. I think it has value,” he said.
Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at: