Krista Kern Desjarlais looks out from Outlet Beach at Sabbathday Lake in New Gloucester, where she owns a restaurant and manages the property. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

A trip to Old Orchard Beach for a box of crinkle-cut fries is a rite of summer in southern Maine, but persistent rain over the past month has meant many have yet to make that pilgrimage.

“Usually, we’d be halfway down the street with customers,” said Allan Buotte, as he looked at the handful of people who had just lined up Monday on the fog-covered sidewalk in front of Pier French Fries and Bill’s Pizza, both of which he owns with his wife, Tiffany. Comparing business with previous Junes, he said, “I can’t even imagine it’s half.”

The 23 days of rain this month – and even the suggestion of it in the forecast – have delayed the onslaught of summer crowds at state parks and seafood shacks. The 5.68 inches in Portland as of Friday morning made it the rainiest June since 2019 and put it well above the month’s average of 3.77 inches, according to the National Weather Service.

For many weather-dependent businesses, from rooftop bars to water taxis, it represents a significant loss in an already short window to make money. Out of the $8.6 billion that visitors spent in the state last year, $5.1 billion was in May through August, according to the Maine Office of Tourism. Although highway traffic has been on par with normal and some people aren’t letting the weather stop them from enjoying outdoor activities, visitors and others are likely spending more time and money inside, going bowling or touring museums – places that have been busier than expected at this time of year.

Krista Kern Desjarlais has operated Bresca & The Honeybee – a beach picnic, boat rental and ice cream spot on the shore of Sabbathday Lake in New Gloucester – for 11 seasons and says she has never seen a June like this one.

“To put it mildly, we have no business,” she said. “We’ve had four days of revenue in the last four weeks.”


She said business in June usually accounts for a third of Bresca & The Honeybee’s sales.

“After this week, we will lose 35% of our revenue,” Kern Desjarlais said. “Never coming back.”

She has made weather-motivated adjustments, opening the ice cream store in the rain and selling more baked goods, but she can only do so much when her revenue is “completely driven by weather.” She finds herself stuck hoping for the sun to come out.

“ ‘Hope’ is not a good business word,” Kern Desjarlais said. “You want to be proactive.”

“To put it mildly, we have no business,” Kern Desjarlais said. “We’ve had four days of revenue in the last four weeks.” Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Eben Fogg, part owner of Fogg’s Water Taxi, said the weather has affected every aspect of the business, which offers public cruises and private charters, along with transportation to and from the islands on Casco Bay.

“We’re at least 75% – maybe more – down from last June’s sales,” he said. “Nobody wants to go on a boat in the rain.”


Suzanne Ellis, part owner of Johnny Shucks Maine Lobster, can’t compare business with previous years. The new Old Orchard Beach restaurant just opened on Memorial Day. But she’s already seeing the difference the weather makes.

“Yesterday, the sun was out. We had record sales,” Ellis said Monday, but on days that it has rained, “It’s been painful.”

Although many businesses report a significant loss in sales, the weather doesn’t appear to be discouraging people too much from traveling in and around the state. Traffic on the Maine Turnpike was down from last year on only one weekend in June – the first. And last weekend, when it rained on and off, it was down just 1% from 2019, a banner year for the Maine Turnpike Authority, spokesperson Erin Courtney said. Then again, she said, with better weather, this year might have hit a new record.

“If it was completely sunny, we’d probably be seeing a lot more traffic than we’re seeing,” Courtney said.

While the weather might have deterred some day-trippers, most tourists book their trips before any forecast could predict what the conditions will be, and visitors are still likely to come.

“Our research shows 74% of travelers to Maine start planning their trip a month or more in advance, with the typical visitor planning their trip 60 days in advance,” said Jennifer Geiger, communications manager for the Maine Office of Tourism.


That helps mitigate the overall effect on the economy. Overnight visitors accounted for $8.5 billion of the $8.6 billion total that tourists spent in 2022, according to the tourism office.

Sandy and Mark Wargo board a Portland trolley tour on Commercial Street in Portland on Thursday. The couple, visiting from Pittsburgh, said the rain hasn’t deterred their vacation plans too much. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Sandy and Mark Wargo, who were visiting from Pittsburgh last week, booked their vacation two months ago and still made good on their goals of getting a lobster roll and visiting a lighthouse.

“We just went out in the rain,” Sandy Wargo said.

Schooner Mini Golf in Saco has seen similarly determined customers, perhaps choosing putt-putt over a day at the beach.

“People were out here in the pouring rain,” owner Allison Skoczenski said. “We’re lucky to have customers who love it no matter what.”

At Hadlock Field, home of the Portland Sea Dogs, only one game had been rained out this season as of last week, but Geoff Iacuessa, president and general manager of the minor league team, said the weather has affected attendance.


“You can see it when the forecast for the week comes out – ticket sales slow down compared to where they might be in previous years,” he said.

However, he said, that’s been offset by the exciting major league prospects and promotions that have drawn bigger crowds on other days.

“We’ve been fortunate because we’re up 15% (in sales) compared to last year at this time,” Iacuessa said.

Bayside Bowl in Portland has also had a mixed start to its summer. While bad weather has brought more people into the bowling alley, which has opened early on days when rain’s in the forecast, it keeps the alley from opening its more lucrative rooftop bar, owner Charlie Mitchell said.

A small section of outdoor seating at Portland Lobster Co. on Commercial Street in Portland on Thursday. The restaurant has a different covered outdoor seating area that they said has been helpful during last month’s rainy days. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

At Portland Lobster Co., a waterfront restaurant with 30 tables outside and only three indoors, business has been slow in the rain, but things are getting back to normal, according to manager and bartender Maggie Norris.

“We’ve been doing better in the past week,” she said. “It looks like tourist season is upon us.”

The National Weather Service said the rainy pattern is expected to continue into the first week of July.

For Lisa Houston, who has been coming to Peaks Island for 11 years, that might mean changing her definition of a beach day.

“Usually, I’m on the beach all the time,” she said. “I haven’t even set foot on the beach yet this summer. … Soon I’ll just go in the rain.”

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