ELLSWORTH — The downtown home of Flexit Café and Bakery will shift when the coffee house and café now found in the Maine Grind Building moves a few doors down later this year.
The relocation was prompted by building owners Desert Harvest needing more space for their business operations, Flexit owner Paul Markosian said. But, he added, he and Lorena Stearns, who is married to Markosian and owns Finn’s Irish Pub, had discussed moving the business for the past few years.
“We couldn’t find the perfect spot,” Markosian said, speaking after the lunch crowd passed through the present location on July 5. “But [we] kept it in the forefront of our minds.”
With Desert Harvest expanding and space suddenly available for Flexit nearby, what had been talk between the married restaurateurs kicked into action. Flexit will move into the J&B Atlantic Building, into the space formerly occupied by recently closed Northern Lights Dance Arts. The move will bring Flexit next door to Finn’s, with only a narrow alleyway between them.
But the owner of the second Maine Grind tenant, gift shop 207Mainer, said she is disappointed at having to close up shop. After all, owner Leslie Harlow just moved her business there last November, after she and her business partner sold the Maine Grind Building to Desert Harvest. “They came to town with such an apparent commitment to downtown,” Harlow said, noting she had an understanding with the new owners she would be able to keep her store in the Maine Grind for a few years. “They own the building. They can do what they want. I just think it’s too bad for downtown.”
For now, Harlow said she is just aiming to get through the summer and will decide then what 207Mainer’s next move will be.
For Desert Harvest, though, their health and wellness products business grew beyond owner Heather Florio’s expectations.
“When we first purchased the building at 192 Main Street in Ellsworth, we were more [than] doubling the size of our offices and facilities from [our] North Carolina offices, all while still being able to have tenants in the building,” she told The American.
But since moving in last fall, Desert Harvest has experienced a 50 percent growth for its aloe vera and CBD products. “Now we are bursting at the seams for space and realized, with sadness, that we were now going to need to utilize all 11,508 square feet of space.”
Because of this, 207Mainer’s and Flexit’s leases will not be renewed at the end of this year. However, Markosian hopes to move Flexit by Labor Day, if at all possible, he said.
He also plans to “dial down” the menu to one closer to a café than a restaurant.
“We had that dial turned pretty much to the right,” he said. Some newer items to be added are grain bowls and salads, while the soup, sandwiches and bakery items will remain. In addition, Markosian plans to bulk up the grab-and-go items available. What will no longer be available are items now cooked on an open-flame grill or flat-top.
“We’re always re-evaluating what we’re doing,” he said.
And, while Desert Harvest plans to find a secondary location in Canada once the border reopens, Florio said, “Our headquarters, however, will remain in Maine.”