FAIRFIELD — The owners of a wine and beer shop that has built a following on the first floor of the former Gerald Hotel on Main Street are expanding their business with a new restaurant that will focus on locally grown Maine food.

Meridians Kitchen & Bar, which opened Wednesday, is owned by David Gulak and Josh Sullivan, who five years ago were part of a trio that started Meridians retail store.

Sullivan, in an interview this week, said opening a restaurant was always a dream of his business partners, and it didn’t take much convincing for him to get excited about it too.

“We’ve really helped build a culture around artisan wine, beer and foods; so when this opportunity arose, it was almost too good to be true to be able to do it right across the street,” said Sullivan, 32.

Meridians the restaurant is located at 166 Main St. and features a locally sourced menu with for-the-table cheese and meat plates and appetizers such as duck tostada, pork ribs and ployes with honey butter.

Although the menu will change frequently, lighter meals currently include a noodle bowl with soba noodles and roast pork and a burger with buttermilk blue cheese and rhubarb ketchup.

Entrees include steak frites, fried chicken and wok-fried vegetables in a spicy coconut curry broth.

A sample menu on the restaurant’s website lists appetizers ranging from $5 to $12; light fare, $12 to $15; and entrees from $24 to $35.

Originally, Sullivan said, he and Gulak envisioned a smaller project such as a wine bar with charcuterie plates or finger foods, but when they ended up meeting chef Justin Bard through mutual friends, the project grew into a full-scale 70-seat restaurant.

David Gulak, left, and Josh Sullivan, center, co-owners of Meridians Kitchen & Bar in Fairfield, pose for a portrait Thursday in the bar. The newly opened restaurant specializes in locally sourced Maine food. Morning Sentinel photo by Michael G. Seamans

Meridians is located in the former Dancing Elephant II, an Indian restaurant that closed in 2017, and before that was home to the Kennebec Cafe, a popular diner that specialized in made-to-order doughnuts.

Fairfield Town Manager Michelle Flewelling said although people might not realize it, the opening of Meridians leaves only one empty storefront in that block of the town’s Main Street.

Fairfield also recently awarded the restaurant a $1,265 grant through its Facade and Marketing Assistance program, which aims to enhance the economic vitality and character of the town’s commercial districts.

“Meridians Kitchen & Bar opening in Fairfield is not only exciting from the perspective of adding to the region’s increasingly diverse culinary options within mid-Maine’s growing foodie scene, but also represents an important investment for Fairfield’s downtown district,” said Garvan Donegan, director of planning and economic development for the Central Maine Growth Council, in an email.

He said the restaurant will have an important effect on the downtown economy because it will help attract residents, visitors and employees.

It also coincides with growth occurring off the Interstate 95 corridor that already is helping boost traffic counts on Fairfield’s Main Street.

The kitchen will add about 20 jobs downtown, while the retail store employs one person full time and another person part time.

“We already built one niche business, which was a crazy idea, from the ground up with nothing to start on,” Sullivan said. “We are really anticipating we can deliver a serious enough package and deliver an experience people will come out of their way for.”

Bard, 32, previously worked for two years as the executive chef at Mason’s Brewing Co. in Brewer. Before that, he worked at the Riverside Farm Market in Oakland and for two and a half years was the head chef at Blaze in Bangor.

A staff member at Meridians Kitchen & Bar in Fairfield puts up the specials Thursday. The new restaurant specializes in locally sourced Maine food. The restaurant occupies the former Dancing Elephant II space and is owned by those who own the Meridians retail shop, which has been selling beer, wine and groceries on Main Street in Fairfield since 2014. Morning Sentinel photo by Michael G. Seamans

“What’s going on in Maine’s culinary scene right now is there (are restaurants that) are becoming destinations,” he said. “There are places like The Lost Kitchen that are out of the way; but, you know, foodies travel for good food.”

So far, business at Meridians retail store has been good, Sullivan said. The shop specializes in biodynamic, organic and natural wines, many of which also will be offered at the kitchen. They also sell a variety of Maine beers and groceries from local family farms.

Inside the restaurant the names of the Maine farms the restaurant works with are listed on a chalk board for visitors to read. Hardwood floors and chandeliers give it a rustic but elegant feel.

Like the food menu, drink offerings at the restaurant will change seasonally or even more frequently and include cocktails featuring house-made infusions.

“It’s fun to come into a place and every time you come in, there’s different stuff to choose from,” Sullivan said. “There’s too much good beer in the world, especially in Maine, to stick to committing to 10.”

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