Five Fifty-Five, one of Portland’s best known restaurants – and one of the first to bring Portland’s food scene national recognition – will close in mid-April, the owners announced Tuesday.

After 17 years, Michelle and Steve Corry, owners of Five Fifty-Five and Petite Jacqueline restaurants, are closing Five Fifty- Five. Photo courtesy of Michelle Corry

Steve and Michelle Corry, who in January were named 2020 Restaurateurs of the Year by HospitalityMaine, said in a statement that the decision to close the Congress Street restaurant “in its current location” was “extremely difficult and very emotional, but ultimately we want to focus on our family and future projects.”

The Corrys added that they are waiting several weeks to close so that they can help their 30 employees find new jobs.

The couple’s other restaurant, Petite Jacqueline at 46 Market St. in Portland, will remain open, they said, and several of their signature dishes – including their popular lobster mac-and-cheese – will be added to its menu. Steve Corry was one of the first, if not the first, chef in Portland to put lobster mac-and-cheese on his menu.

Asked what they meant by closing the restaurant “in its current location,” Michelle Corry said in an e-mail interview that it’s possible they could resurrect Five Fifty-Five in a different spot some day. “We want to keep our options open,” she said.

In a recent story on the state of the restaurant industry, Corry told the Maine Sunday Telegram that spiraling food costs, an increase in the minimum wage and a shortage of workers were all contributing to a tough, increasingly competitive environment.

“You would be shocked by how many restaurants are barely getting by,” she said. “There are a lot that are breaking even, or just getting by.”

But on Tuesday, she said that competition in Portland’s crowded restaurant scene played “absolutely no role whatsoever” in the couple’s decision to close Five Fifty-Five. They had been thinking about closing for some time, she said, “and kept going back and forth.”

“As a matter of fact, we had a fantastic 2019 and our numbers are up for 2020,” she said. “That is part of the problem. As we get busier, I have to be (at the restaurant) more.”

Letting the staff do more was an option, but she described both herself and her husband as “very Type A,” and “we don’t like the idea of not being there 100 percent.”

Corry added, however, that the “anti-small business climate” in Portland has “taken a toll on us emotionally and fiscally.”

Steve Corry was named one of the country’s 10 “Best New Chefs” by Food & Wine magazine in 2007 for his work at Five Fifty-Five. Michelle Corry managed the restaurant and is a former chair of the Maine Restaurant Association. They opened Petite Jacqueline, named after Michelle Corry’s grandmother, in 2009.

“We are so appreciative of our supporters, including all of our guests, many of which are now friends, and the wonderful people who have worked with us over the last 17 years,” the couple said in their joint statement.


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