Sunday, December 8, 2013
By Meredith Goad firstname.lastname@example.org
PORTLAND — Havana South, the Old Port restaurant that called its cuisine "American fine dining with a Latin flair," has closed permanently.
Michael Boland, who opened the restaurant with his wife, Deirdre Swords, in 2010, confirmed the closure Friday in an email to The Portland Press Herald that was also signed by chef Cassady Pappas. The restaurant's last day of business was New Year's Eve.
"We worked long and hard, but in the end it just wasn't possible to continue financially," the email read.
"We certainly made our fair share of mistakes," Boland wrote, "but one thing I do know is that we are proud of what we accomplished: Built a beautiful restaurant from scratch, rehabbed a delinquent building and made it an important part of the Old Port, provided good jobs with benefits including health to over 30 people, and served great food and beverage to thousands of guests."
When the restaurant opened in June 2010, Boland said rehabbing the large location on Wharf Street was a $500,000 project.
Boland and his crew spruced up the 140-year-old building with antique doors, mandarin red and charcoal gray paint, and a long bar made from wood that came from a 100-year-old monastery.
The day-to-day running of the restaurant added significant costs.
"While we did respectable revenue, the space was large and so were the corresponding costs, including utilities and rent," Boland said. "And yes, we did spend a lot on renovations and probably underfinanced the operation in general."
Competition from other restaurants that opened recently in the area, such as Zapoteca and Miyake, did not factor into the closure of Havana South, said Boland.
"However, the very large number of high-quality restaurants (in the Old Port) does make entry into the market difficult," he said.
Boland and his partners are the same team that's behind the popular Havana restaurant in Bar Harbor, which has been open since 1999.
The closure of Havana South will have no effect on the original Havana because "they are unrelated financially and structurally," Boland said.
The owners of Havana do not own the building on Wharf Street that housed Havana South, but Boland said he hopes another restaurant will go in there "and continue what we started."
Staff Writer Meredith Goad can be contacted at 791-6332 or at: