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A cafe and pub in Wiscasset that has been a local fixture for four decades was scooped up by a like-minded business owner looking for more space for a growing operation.
Jodie and James Roquemore bought Sarah's Cafe & Twin Schooners Pub, at 43-45 Water St., from Sarah Heald and Sarah & Sons Real Estate Inc. for $925,000.
The list price was $1.02 million.
Nicholas Farrell and Bob Doak of Farrell & Doak at Keller Williams Realty were the seller's agents and Stan Goff of Re/Max Riverside was the buyer’s agent in the deal.
In 1980, with $200 in her pocket, Sarah Heald, the seller, launched a delivery business out of a rented house in Boothbay Harbor selling pastries.
“A year later she opened her first restaurant in an old boathouse, and then a few years later opened a restaurant in Wiscasset,” said Farrell. “She eventually bought an old hardware store and renovated it into the Sarah's Cafe that everyone has come to know. She is a remarkable woman.”
The property, a 10,249-square-foot mixed-use building in downtown Wiscasset along Route 1, consists of a three-story building with a restaurant, full pub, walk-out basement with commercial kitchen and storage, and three apartments. The building is on a lot of just over one-tenth of an acre, at the corner of Water Street and Main Street (U.S. Route 1). It was marketed as having great views of Wiscasset Harbor. Included in the sale was Heald’s restaurant business offering dine-in or take-out options, with inside seating and two decks overlooking the harbor.
Heald grew up in Georgetown.
As a young woman, Heald attended business school and got a degree as a medical secretary. She worked briefly at that.
In 1980, she decided to pursue her entrepreneurial ideas, starting with making candies such as Needhams, a chocolate-coated treat with coconut filling. She made the candies in a log cabin that she rented in Georgetown, ordered little boxes to put the candies in and sold them by mail order, eventually advertising in Down East magazine. She called the business Sarah’s and had a logo that depicted a gal in a polka-dotted dress and floppy hat and always barefoot “as I was back then,” she said.
She next started Sarah’s pizza deliveries in a rented home in West Boothbay Harbor. With $200 she bought a used electric pizza oven and ran an ad in the local newspaper. She made her recipe for pizza dough by hand.
“Pulled a couple of ribs from kneading and pizza sauce,” she said. “Phone was ringing, made pizza from scratch, sold Canada soda.”
She took orders by phone and delivered around town and to outlying areas.
“I was devoted to it, loved my clientele,” she said. “Ran deliveries even in the winter — until our car ran off the road. It was cash-only at that time.”
Next, she collected letters of references from customers and went to the bank to get a loan to open in an old boathouse in Boothbay Harbor in 1984.
“Business was brisk,” with seating for 40 customers and pizza deliveries, she said.
In 1987, she moved the business to Wiscasset, where she opened in a small building across from 43-45 Water St.
Several years later, she bought and renovated 43-45 Water St. — an old hardware store — and added pizza creations with names like Cabin Girl, Matey and Whaleboats.
Eventually, she expanded through the wall of an adjacent space that was a former laundromat.
With an outside deck and full bar, she also developed a successful catering business.
All of her dough, soups, breads, salad dressings and desserts, including the filling for eclairs, was made from scratch.
“There were no box mixes at Sarah’s,” Heald said.
She continued, “My employees were top-notch. I taught a number of young men how to bake and do it all. My whole crew — I love them — were with me for many, many years. Customers: great and well-loved. We contributed to many, many fundraisers over the years.”
Heald decided to sell in order to retire due to health issues.
“It’s been a long journey,” she said.
She added, “I always told my staff to believe, to dream, to put others first. Never give up!”
The buyers, Jodie and James Roquemore, moved to Wiscasset in 2020.
“We came from Georgia,” said Jodie. “We were looking for somewhere with four actual seasons. And also with less crime. We Googled ‘lowest crime rate in the United States' and Maine was in the top three that year.”
The couple did a web search for real estate, found property they liked and moved.
In 2021, they bought a small commercial building at 277 Bath Road in Wiscasset and opened Jodie’s Café and Bakery a year later.
“We knew we would need more room. Our kitchen was tiny — maybe 10 by 15-feet,” said Roquemore. “I had all my cooks standing on top of each other just about. So when Sarah’s came up for sale — it’s a great spot. It’s an iconic location.”
Renovations at the Water Street location — now called Jodie’s Café, Bakery & Restaurant — include new paint and carpets and changing the kitchen around some, as well as moving fryers and other equipment from the Bath Road location.
United Bank in Georgia financed the purchase and renovations.
The buyers are from the South, the general manager is from Maine and the kitchen manager is from California, so the menu will have a variety of influences, including fried seafood and shrimp and grits, said Roquemore. Other Southern influences could include fried okra and fried green tomatoes, depending on sourcing. Last year, Roquemore had peaches shipped from Georgia — the Peach State — and put Georgia peach cobbler on the menu.
The views of Wiscasset Harbor at the Water Street location are another plus, said Roquemore.
“It’s so beautiful,” she said. “To be able to step out there on that deck and smell the salt water is amazing.”