Johnny’s Bistro & Bar in Falmouth has been sold to a Sugarloaf-area restaurateur who plans to open an Italian restaurant in the space.

Beth McKenney, who owns the Italian restaurant Hugs as well as Black Diamond Burrito in the Carrabassett Valley, said she plans to open a new Hugs in the space formerly occupied by Johnny’s at 204 U.S. Route 1.

McKenney said she hopes to have the new place open by Nov. 1 and plans to serve dinner only to start.

“I was very pleased to be given the opportunity to sell,” said Johnny Robinson, who had operated Johnny’s for the past seven years. “It was bittersweet, of course, because I love what I do.”

Robinson had renovated the restaurant in recent years, but the new look didn’t help bring diners through the doors.

“I truly had one of the greatest kitchens in the greater Portland area, but still it made no significant impact on the numbers,” he said. “People thought it was more expensive and fancier than it actually was.”

Robinson added that running Johnny’s Bistro on his own was a little overwhelming at times.

Still, he’d like to try again someday.

“I love this business,” he said. “I love it. But I really need to do it with a partner next time, you know? I need a good, invested chef partner next time because it’s just too much work.”

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