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Updated: February 2, 2022

Yarmouth dining mainstay sold to Portland restaurant owner who sees eateries 'aligned'

building and lawn furniture Courtesy / Gather via Facebook Locally sourced ingredients and a community vibe were part of the attraction for the buyer of Gather restaurant in Yarmouth.

Everything seemed to line up when the owner of a Portland restaurant acquired Gather, a homey eatery in Yarmouth.

“Gather is very focused on local Maine ingredients and very focused on their community, which is very much like Sur Lie,” said Krista Cole, who owns and manages Sur Lie, at 11 Free St. in Portland. The small-plate restaurant is based on American cuisine using locally sourced ingredients.

The Gather business sold for its list price of $225,000. The broker handling the sale was Kirk Butterfield of Keller Williams.

Gather, which leases space in a former Masonic Hall at 189 Main St. in Yarmouth, was founded in 2012 by Matthew Chappell, whose parents are Tom and Kate Chappell, founders of Tom’s of Maine. 

sign and paint
Courtesy / Krista Cole
New signage is part of a freshening up at the Yarmouth restaurant Gather, under new ownership.

A dining mainstay, the restaurant is known for its rustic interior, “American eats” and wood-fired pizza using ingredients from local farms and purveyors. Gather's Sunday brunches featured live music by the Gather Rounders — inside before the pandemic and, more recently, on the lawn in warmer months. 

Looking for the 'best fit' 

Butterfield said the business officially hit the market June 21. Within a couple of months, several interested parties had come forward. After some subsequent press and social media exposure, the level of interest continued to increase, with about a dozen parties signing confidentiality agreements to get further information about the business. 

“That was a healthy number,” said Butterfield. “Out of that dozen, we had three offers that we worked through at different points at time.”

Cole emerged as the best fit, he said.

“Their ethos as a restaurant is really similar to Gather, relative to how they source their food, how they create their menu, how they interact with their guests,” he said. “It was really super-pleasant to work on a transaction like that because they were very symbiotic in terms of how they operate their businesses.”

The deal involved negotiating a new lease agreement between Cole and the owner of the restaurant's space.

“To see deals like this come together is really good for everybody,” Butterfield added.

Born and raised in East Millinocket, Cole started her career as a nurse. She traveled in that role for two years, then landed in Denver, for another four. 

smiling person
File photo / Tim Greenway
Krista Cole

In Denver, she started graduate school and studied business. She received a master’s degree in management and organization with a certificate in entrepreneurial studies. 

Moving back to Maine, she and a partner opened Sur Lie in 2014. 

The idea of a tapas-style restaurant grabbed her attention when she was living in Denver.

“Tapas and wine bars were a huge trend,” she said. “And I loved the social aspect of tapas and family-style dining. I just fell in love with going into a restaurant and trying five or six different dishes and the conversation that’s created around that sharing experience. At the time, there wasn’t another tapas restaurant in Portland.”

Since then, she’s become the sole proprietor of Sur Lie. She also sits on the boards of Portland Downtown and the Portland Development Corp. For the city of Portland. 

storefront with posts
Courtesy / Sur Lie
Krista Cole and a former partner started a Portland tapas restaurant called Sur Lie in 2014.

She’s long been acquainted with Chappell.

“The restaurant industry is pretty small in Maine — we all kind of know each other,” she noted.

When she saw that Gather was for sale, she decided to go for it. 

“Our values were aligned,” she said.

Cole financed the purchase with a combination of owner financing and some bank financing through Bangor Savings Bank.

Chappell has helped with the transition, including working with Cole her first week as owner, she said. Gather will retain its name and menu style. There was some freshening up, including a logo redesign and interior décor.

The grand opening under new ownership took place Tuesday. Chefs from both restaurants collaborated on a menu to launch the announcement. 

There are other similarities between the two establishments.

Sur Lie is just under 3,000 square feet. Its seating capacity is typically 75-seat capacity. It employs 12 people. In 2020, it began an online ordering program offering prepared dishes as well as meal kits and farmer’s baskets, with produce, meats, beverages, bread and desserts in partnership with local vendors.

Gather is just under 3,000 square feet and employs 14 people. It began a takeout program in 2020. It also offers outdoor seating with a heated patio, picnic tables, fire pits and chairs on the lawn. Gather’s employees have stayed on with the ownership transition, said Cole.

“That was one of the considerations — knowing there was a full team that believed in the Gather brand,” she said. “When I started to let folks know that I purchased it, everyone has been saying, ‘I love Gather!’ It’s definitely got its place in the community. It’s cool to see the locals come in and know the staff by name and the staff knows them.”

Cole has long been interested in a sister restaurant for Sur Lie. 

“The timing was not anything that I was looking for right now, given the state of the pandemic,” she continued. “But it fell into place so perfectly and the values aligned so perfectly. It just seemed like the perfect opportunity and I didn’t want to pass it up.”

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