Big Babe’s Tavern in Knightville. Kate Irish Collins/The Forecaster

The South Portland building that’s home to Big Babe’s Tavern is for sale, about six months after the music venue and restaurant opened, following a years-long construction process. Owner Ginger Cote said that she is not selling the business, which she hopes to reopen elsewhere after the pandemic.

“I want a rock ‘n’ roll venue that we can pack people in, and I don’t see that happening anytime soon,” Cote said.

Listed through Excellence Realty for $3.1 million, the two-story building at Ocean and C streets includes a 75-seat restaurant, bar and entertainment venue and six furnished hotel rooms. Having multiple types of businesses in the building, each of which “can’t be run on half-capacity,” has compounded the difficulty of staying afloat, Cote said.

The building replaced the Griffin Club, a legendary Knightville neighborhood tavern that was opened by boxing promoter Eddie Griffin in 1973 and drew national sports celebrities in its heyday.

Cote purchased the property in 2017 and said that the construction of the new building, plus the land acquisition, cost $3.1 million. Cote has said previously that the city approval process, a delay in obtaining a small business loan as a result of a federal government shutdown and poor weather for construction all contributed to the length of time it took to get up and running.

Big Babe’s, which opened on Jan. 28, was shut down less than two months later by the coronavirus pandemic. It reopened to customers on Friday, but closed the next day, a Facebook post citing “the rising national cases, confirmed cases in some of our favorite local restaurants, and in the interest of public health.”

Big Babe’s Tavern received a Paycheck Protection Program loan which enabled Cote to pay her four managers for eight weeks. That funding ran out on June 4.

Cote said that prior to the pandemic, the level of business was brisk and was not part of the decision to put the building on the market. Cote hopes to open Big Babe’s in a different location once the pandemic is over or a vaccine is available. She also would consider keeping the business where it is, depending on when the building is sold and who purchases it.


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