It’s a family affair at Josie’s Country Store, which opened this week on the Surry Road. Husband and wife team Josie and Brian Muir (far right), owner of the combination restaurant and convenience store, will be aided by Josie’s children and her mother Linda Esquivel (front). From left: Avegail, J.R. and Kristina will cook and help with the register; their brother David (not pictured) will also be working, as will Josie’s sister Beverly Esquivel. ELLSWORTH AMERICAN PHOTO BY KATE COUGH

Josie’s Country Store: A convenience store with atmosphere, deck dining



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.

ELLSWORTH AMERICAN PHOTO BY KATE COUGH

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.

ELLSWORTH AMERICAN PHOTO BY KATE COUGH

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.

Kate Cough

Kate Cough

Kate covers the city of Ellsworth, including the Ellsworth School Department and the city police beat, as well as the towns of Amherst, Aurora, Eastbrook, Great Pond, Mariaville, Osborn, Otis and Waltham. She lives in Southwest Harbor and welcomes story tips and ideas. She can be reached at [email protected]