The owners of Tiqa, a Mediterranean restaurant on Commercial Street, say they have been selected to operate the Castle in Deering Oaks.

The eatery will offer breakfasts, lunches and dinners, said Deen Haleem, owner of Tiqa with his wife, Carol Mitchell. The location in the park will be called Tiqa Cafe, Haleem said Friday night.

The lease with the city is expected to be completed next week, he said, and the offer from the restaurant was for what Haleem called a standard commercial rate of about $15 a square foot a month for the Castle, which is about 500 square feet. Haleem said that rate is still subject to negotiation.

Reached by email late Friday night, city spokeswoman Jessica Grondin said she couldn’t confirm an agreement.

The Castle is small, with no kitchen, and Haleem said most of the food will be prepared at Tiqa and trucked to the Castle. He said the cafe will operate year-round and an outside grill may be set up in the summer to make items such as kabobs. The building will be outfitted with storage for hot and cold items brought over from the restaurant, he said.

Haleem hopes to seat 20 to 30 people inside, where there’s a fireplace, and 50 or more outside.


He said breakfast items would consist of bagels and pastries, with coffee by Coffee by Design. Lunches would be sandwiches and salads, and dinners would probably include an item from the restaurant menu along with salads and sandwiches.

“We’d like people to be able to sit around and enjoy the beautiful Maine summers and get a glass of wine or a beer and a sandwich,” Haleem said. City officials have said they’re open to allowing beer and wine sales at the site.

A typical lunch would run from $10 to $15, he said, and the cafe will likely be open from 7 a.m. to dusk.

The brick and stone Castle was built in 1895 as a warming hut for skaters on the adjacent pond and as a shelter for park-goers during summer storms. City officials have said any substantial changes to the building will have to undergo review for historic preservation.

Depending on the pace of the renovation work and city permits and licenses, Haleem said he hopes to be open by mid-spring.

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