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March 4, 2020

Bob's Clam Hut may change hands in Kittery, but closes in Portland

Photo / William Hall Bob's Clam Hut closed its Portland location, at Cumberland and Washington avenues, on Sunday.

Bob’s Clam Hut, which began serving fried seafood and lobster rolls in Kittery 64 years ago and opened a Portland branch in 2018, may soon have a new owner. But on Sunday, the younger hut permanently closed its doors.

On Wednesday a sign in the restaurant, at 111 Cumberland Ave., read: “Bob’s has an ownership change in the works that we are very excited about. However, the new owners are only purchasing Bob’s Kittery location so we wouldn’t be able to run Portland as a Bob’s once the sale is complete. It didn’t make sense to keep going.”

Attempts to reach the Bob’s owner, Michael Landgarten, for further information were not immediately successful.

Since launching two years ago, the Portland branch appeared to do little business during the winter off-season, and recently had shortened its hours to three days a week. But Bob’s had given no indication of any financial challenges.

“Bob’s has been gaining popularity here and doing better and better,” the sign read.

A post on the restaurant’s Facebook page said, “Business has been gaining steam and we are very appreciative to our the locals who have been coming regularly and sorry to disappoint them.”

Gift cards issued in Portland will be accepted at the Kittery restaurant, according to the post.

The hut on U.S. Route 1 in Kittery has long been popular with tourists. The simple menu, which includes a variety of fresh clam and lobster dishes as well as ice cream, has drawn praise from USA Today and Yankee magazine. 

But unlike Kittery, Bob’s Portland location, at a traffic-congested corner on Munjoy Hill, was far from a major beach. The restaurant was also relatively distant from other seafood spots along the city’s waterfront and in the Old Port district.

The previous occupant of the property — also a seafood stand, named 3 Buoys — closed in 2017 after five years of operation. 

Despite Portland’s popularity as a dining destination, the city has seen several restaurants close in recent months. They included Brian Boru Public House and Silly's, which had done business for over 30 years a few yards away from Bob's before closing last September. Another restaurant in the neighborhood, Terlingua, is moving into the Silly's space and plans to open this spring.

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