Owner Doug Darby stands inside the former Wonderbar restaurant on Washington Street in Biddeford which he is renovating into two new restaurants – The Dunn Bar, which he and wife Ceil Caldwell will operate and Sublime Taco, operated by Steven Siders. Tammy Wells Photo

BIDDEFORD — A longtime Washington Street landmark, closed for the better part of a year, has new owners, and will have a new look — and two new restaurants inside.

The Dunn Bar and Sublime Taco will have separate dining rooms at 12 Washington St., the longtime location of The Wonderbar. Doug Darby and Ceil Caldwell, who own LaundrYuP on Hill Street, recently purchased the building from Vincent Keely. The couple plans to operate The Dunn Bar, while Steven Siders will open Sublime Taco at the location.

Kitty-corner across Washington Street, a previously vacant storefront sports a new business, Nibblesford, offering cheese and bread, wine, and beer and lots of local Maine products, from mustard to olive oil, popcorn to chips, and more. Owned by brothers Ian and Travis Kern, the shop opened during the latter part of August.

Just up the street, a couple with roots in the music industry is readying a space for a record store, for specialty vinyl, CDs, and cassettes, in a former satellite drive up bank building. Remy Lindemann and Samantha “Sam” Bullock say they are planning on opening Color Sound Oblivion sometime in October.

As well, Suger recently moved to Washington Street, offering her clothing line — and now food.

Remy Lindemann and Samantha “Sam” Bullock hope to open their specialty vinyl, CD and cassette store at 60 Washington St. sometime in October. Tammy Wells Photo

There is talk — but no firm plans yet — about development at the vacant former Hoglund’s Countryside Butchers location at 50 Washington St.


It has been said Biddeford is going through a renaissance, as evidenced by the buzz of activity in the mill district and on Main Street. Now, that buzz is making its way to other downtown locales.

Darby, inside the former Wonderbar a week ago — a construction site at present — chatted about plans for the building. Each of the two dining rooms he said, will seat 50 to 60 people, while the two restaurants will share a kitchen.

Darby and Caldwell own about 40 apartment units in Biddeford and plan, over time, to create several two and three bedroom units in the two upper floors at 12 Washington St.

And while LaundrYuP laundromat and cafe on Hill Street was inspired by businesses Caldwell and Darby saw in Italy, The Dunn Bar will be an Irish restaurant and pub, said Darby, serving corned beef and cabbage, fish and chips, bangers and mash, and other dishes inspired by the Emerald Isle.

Brothers Travis and Ian Kern recently opened their shop Nibblesford, which offers cheeses from all over Maine and a whole lot more, on Washington Street in Biddeford. Tammy Wells Photo

He said he has all of the guestbooks from the early days, and that The Dunn Bar will “embrace the history of the Wonderbar,” a landmark on Washington Street since 1935 when the Droggitis brothers began selling beer and sandwiches in what had been their parents’ shoe repair shop. The restaurant became known as a spot where political figures came to see and be seen — and look for votes. Sold in 1982, it was sold again to Keely in the 1990s and developed an Irish theme.

The Dunn Bar is named for Darby, who said he learned that his family name had been Dunn before it was changed when his ancestors emigrated to the United States.


Sublime Taco, a California-inspired street taco and Mexican restaurant, served its last meals at its Main Street location on Sept. 25 and will move to its new location on Washington Street when the building is ready.

At Nibblesford, Travis Kern, a Saco resident who had been a Portland chef until recently, said when he and his brother Ian looked around Biddeford, they knew it was where they wanted to locate their business.

He said he felt the same energy and creativity in Biddeford as he had in the Boston neighborhood of Jamaica Plain, when he lived in the area while attending college.

Among the cheeses available at Nibblesford, a new shop on Washington Street in Biddeford, is Earthfall, made by Fuzzy Udder Creamery of Whitefield. Tammy Wells Photo

“I saw the same energy in Biddeford, people working and fighting for it, a sense of community,” said Travis Kern.

His brother Ian, a former New York City archivist, who also ran a book shop in Manhattan, said he and Travis had contemplated opening a business like Nibblesford for a long time.

“One day we said ‘should we,’ and did our homework,” and decided to go ahead, said Ian Kern. The result is a store with clean lines, local art work on the walls and an array of items from which to choose. There is cheese from all over Maine and some New England locations, mustard from Eastport, Maine potato chips, bread from Boulangerie, just down the road in Kennebunk, and beer and wine choices to tickle your fancy.


Lindemann and Bullock, owners of Color Sound Oblivion,  were walking their three beagles down Washington Street on a recent day and stopped to talk about their new record store. Musicians, the couple had also had a longtime show “Dead by Dawn” on WMPG for several years. Lindemann is also in a metal band, on hiatus due to the pandemic.

Their shop at 60 Washington St. is small — but big enough for their niche market, they said.

While the ground floor of 12 Washington Street in Biddeford, currently under renovation, will sport two restaurants, owners Doug Darby and Ceil Caldwell plan to turn the two upper floors into apartment units, over time. Tammy Wells Photo

“It’s very exciting, and a neat little community,” said Lindemann.

Mayor Alan Casavant is enthusiastic about activity on the street.

“Washington Street is booming,” he said in a recent newsletter.

Travis Kern said he has noticed that people here want to help each other.

“I haven’t felt that sense of community in a long time,” he said.

Back at 12 Washington St., Darby said he expects the section of the building where Sublime Taco will be located will be renovated by the first of the year.

The Dunn Bar, the Irish restaurant and bar, he suggested, could open in the spring, perhaps around mid- March.

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