ELLSWORTH — Area residents looking for everything from a quick snack, lunch and emergency supplies to a glass of wine on a quiet patio will find them at Josie’s Country Store, which opened this week on the Surry Road.
Brian Muir and his wife, Josie, purchased the building last fall and set about undertaking extensive renovations. The couple, who did much of the work themselves, removed two staircases on the first floor, creating an expansive space that is part convenience store, part restaurant.
An open-concept kitchen with a wide bar and television offers a space for hungry visitors to gather for breakfast, lunch or dinner. There will be table service on the wrap-around deck, where diners can settle into comfortable patio chairs and warm hands over tables with built-in fire pits when the weather turns. There are also two apartments upstairs, both of which have been rented.
Josie, who learned to cook as a girl growing up in the Philippines and refined her chops managing kitchens for the Military Sealift Command, will run the restaurant portion of the store.
“I can multitask,” Josie said. “If I’m shorthanded I can do a couple of things.”
The menu will feature several Filipino dishes, such as fried egg rolls, along with offerings ranging from pancakes and sausage (breakfast) to pulled pork sandwiches (lunch) and seared salmon with pineapple salsa (dinner). Sweet treats such as three-layer chocolate cake and tiramisu will also be on offer, and takeout will be available as well.
The store and restaurant will be a family affair, with two of Josie’s adult children as well as her mother and sister taking on various roles.
“My goal is that my customers become just like my family,” said Josie, who said the couple are looking forward to feeling more settled after years of traveling for work.
“Before our life was dictated by the government,” Josie said. “This is our normal life now. I don’t have to work for anybody.” The two bought a home in Surry in 2008, and have since spent time there and around the country, including in Nevada, where they own another home.
Muir grew up in Ellsworth and graduated from Maine Maritime Academy in 2002. He teaches part time at the school, traveling to Castine several days per week during the school year.
Although there was talk of installing gas pumps on the property, the plans were put on hold after concern was raised by several neighbors. The area would need to be rezoned for such a use, a change that would require approval by the Planning Board as well as City Council.
A grand opening is scheduled for Saturday, July 7.