What began as a whisper and then fierce scuttlebutt is now a fact — Chester Pike’s Galley has reopened for the season and it’s in good hands.
The Downeast breakfast, lunch and dinner haunt for legions of Hancock County diners was sold earlier this year by owners Jane Fogg and Amy McGarr, who served as the popular Downeast restaurant’s chef and pastry chef.
The new owner, Holly Smith of Birch Harbor, is no stranger to the business having cooked for months alongside Fogg and McGarr in the kitchen. Wisely, she also didn’t change the eatery’s décor and the veteran wait staff stuck with her.
The only thing different is Smith’s face looking out from the kitchen grill into the dining area. Her daughters, Taylor and Ashley, also help out.
“A new smiling face,” McGarr said.
Chester Pike’s was started in 2004 by Fogg and McGarr in a spot where other restaurants had come and gone for years. Its name — taken from an old sardine carrier — is one that Fogg had always liked.
“It was either that or ‘Two Middle-aged Broads in Crisis,’” recalled McGarr with a laugh. “And we liked ‘Chester Pike’s’ better.”
The restaurant is unassuming from the outside, and inside there is a cozy feel. Patrons and loyal customers enjoy a friendly banter, while artwork from local artists lines the walls.
The warm, friendly feel inside often spills out into the parking lot on Friday nights, where customers chat with friends and new faces as they wait their turn for a table.
Some of the waitresses and other employees have regularly suited up for their jobs through high school and college.
Hovering in the background always was Jean Girmscheid, an apprentice chef for a time who counts herself as part of what has almost become a cult.
“She’s been our best helper and supporter,” McGarr said of Girmscheid.
Desserts continue to be a big draw. From oatmeal raisin cookies to fruit pies — blueberry, raspberry and others — someone with a sweet tooth is sure to be satisfied after a visit to Chester Pike’s.
“You may not eat all your supper,” said Girmscheid, “but you’ll strategize to take dessert home.”
One of the interesting things about the restaurant — which is especially known for its Friday night fish fry dinners — are the people who find themselves eating side-by-side at the counter.
“You never know who you are going to see,” Fogg said.
Chester Pike’s GalleyLocation: 2336 Route 1 in Sullivan (traveling from Ellsworth, the restaurant is on the left-hand side, just past the turn for Route 185)
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. On Friday, also open for dinner from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. Sunday, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Closed Monday.
Online: Find Chester Pike’s on Facebook.