Steve Corry, the chef-owner of two Portland restaurants, says he can’t understand why Arrows Restaurant in Ogunquit is still on the market after seven months.
The Berwick Road property’s gardens are beautiful. Before owners Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier closed it late last year, the restaurant had been drawing diners from all over the region and the country for some 25 years.
But, Corry said, he realizes the restaurant’s national reputation might scare off potential buyers afraid they can’t meet diners’ expectations. Gaier and Frasier, after all, have won a prestigious James Beard Award, often likened to an Oscar for chefs.
“I wonder if the James Beard Award hurt them a little bit, if it intimidates” potential buyers, said Corry, who runs Five Fifty-Five and Petite Jacqueline with his wife, Michelle. “Maybe people think they have to be a James Beard chef to take over.”
Arrows went on the market for $1.2 million last October. The price dropped to $995,000 in early April.
The restaurant’s location outside of Ogunquit village and away from foot traffic could also be a reason for buyers hesitating, some real estate brokers speculated.
The broker handling the sale, Daren Hebold of LUX Realty Group in Portland, said that since the price has dropped, he’s heard from potential buyers who are interested in the property as a restaurant and event center.
There are few event centers in the area, Hebold said, and the property is zoned to allow construction of up to seven lodging rooms, if a future owner wanted to add a small inn.
Frasier and Gaier want to find a buyer with a sense of “stewardship” for the property, he said, but they will “consider all reasonable offers from qualified buyers.”
The restaurant is currently closed but is being maintained daily, Hebold said.
Arrows has been a destination for weddings and events for years, and on the LUX website it is advertised as Arrows Restaurant and Events Facility.
The 65-seat restaurant was a pioneer in the farm-to-table movement in Maine and has three dining rooms. The grounds include 3.7 acres with a greenhouse and vegetable gardens.
Frasier and Gaier said last October they wanted to sell Arrows to focus on their MC restaurant brand, which includes MC Perkins Cove restaurant in Ogunquit and the newer M.C. Spiedo in Boston.
The two celebrated Arrows’ 25th anniversary in September and then shut the restaurant’s doors for the season a week later. At the time, Frasier said he and Gaier still loved running Arrows, but decided it was a good time to stop, so they could “go out with a bang.”
While running Arrows, Frasier and Gaier won a James Beard Award in 2010 for Best Chef in the Northeast.
The chefs referred questions about Arrows and the sale to Hebold.
Corry, the Portland restaurant owner, thinks the idea of making Arrows mostly a wedding and event center makes sense.
He also thinks it would be attractive for some well-known chef looking to make a mark on the state.
“Maine is so hot right now as a restaurant spot, and (Arrows) is not that far removed from Boston,” said Corry. “I would think that for some big-name chef from Boston or New York, it would be a perfect Maine outpost.”