Henry and Marty Restaurant and Catering, located at 61 Maine St., is permanently closed. Courtesy of Henry and Marty Restaurant and Catering

BRUNSWICK — Aaron Park and Paul Hollingsworth tried to find a way to keep their restaurant alive throughout the trials of the coronavirus pandemic, but as the bills piled up and the doors to Henry and Marty Restaurant and Catering stayed closed, it became clear, Park said, that they were watching a “long, slow death.”

After 13 years of serving an eclectic mix of “whatever I could get my hands on and have fun with,” Park said he and Hollingsworth decided last week to say goodbye. 

“It’s disappointing,” he said, but “what’s going on in the world has been incredibly challenging.” 

When businesses initially shut down in March, they tried to do takeout, but the food and the Henry and Marty dining experience didn’t translate well to boxes, he said, and eventually they decided to take a break and regroup. Then, when restrictions eased, they thought they might be able to do something, but with limited outdoor seating opportunities and not enough volume in the 60-seat dining room, it just didn’t make sense to keep going. 

“It was so back and forth,” Park said. “We always hoped we’d be able to work something out … it was strange and sad to make that announcement. It’s surreal.” 

While it’s sad to say goodbye to the restaurant, the greatest disappointment is not being able to say goodbye to the customers and the “active, vibrant community,” he said. “We’re going to miss that.” 

Henry and Marty joins Wyler’s, Maine Street Sweets, Benchwarmers Sports Pub, Pedro O’Hara’s and Timeless Cottage as recent downtown closures, many of which were caused or hastened by the coronavirus pandemic. 

Despite the times, there are not too many vacant storefronts along Maine Street. The Wyler’s building now houses a Maine Democratic Party office, Benchwarmers was purchased and rebranded as Bench, the former Maine Street Sweets has been filled by Residential Mortgage Services and what was previously Timeless Cottage will soon be the home of Ritual Bakehouse and Patisserie. 

“There’s lots of interest out there, but some hesitation too,” said Deb King, executive director of the Brunswick Downtown Association.

There are a lot of unknowns moving into the future, she said — how far the ramifications will go, when a vaccine will be available, if or when things might return to “normal.” 

There’s a “wait and see baby steps approach that people are taking,” King said. 

In the meantime, the Brunswick Downtown Association is encouraging restaurants to invest in heaters for outdoor dining and asking the community to shop locally this holiday season. 

Park is advocating for the same. 

“It’s going to be a long winter,” he said. “Support local small businesses, it’s critical. Local folks are struggling to survive. Do your best to get out there and get dollars to local businesses.” 

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