The clock on the Pepperclub lease is winding down, and it looks as if the restaurant will be closing by the end of the month.

The Pepperclub, which has been on Middle Street in the Old Port for 25 years, was the victim of rising rents, higher food costs and stiff competition from new restaurants in Portland’s growing food scene.

It also was the location for the Good Egg Cafe, a breakfast restaurant within a restaurant.

Pepperclub’s owners, Melissa Sawyer and Mary Paine, tried to find a new location, but a potential space in Kennebunk fell through and the partners had no luck searching for an affordable space in the Portland area. The restaurant has to be out of its Middle Street space by Oct. 1.

Paine said Tuesday that she is still a partner in the Pepperclub, but she has not been involved in the day-to-day workings of the business since June 1, when she and her husband started new jobs as caretakers of a 37-acre private island off the coast of Castine, four hours from Portland.

She said the job opportunity “just came from out of the blue” and she felt she could not turn it down.

Paine said she now wishes they had closed the restaurant at that point, but at the time she did not want to announce publicly that she was leaving because “I wanted the Pepperclub to be able to find its way,” and announcing she was leaving “wouldn’t have helped that situation.”

Sawyer could not be reached for comment.

No one answered the phone at the restaurant during the usual start of dinner service hours.


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