WINTER HARBOR — The Gallery Restaurant and Cocktail Bar has taken up shop at 355 Main St. in Winter Harbor, serving guests fun food and craft cocktails since its opening in June.
The historic building was purchased in 2017 by Sarah and Jesse Christensen, who own The Pickled Wrinkle in Birch Harbor. The couple’s longtime friends, Troy and Maren Lorenz, are running the business with Troy’s sister-in-law, Steph Wing.
“We’re adventurous people. We love the ocean,” Troy told The American of his family’s move from Missoula, Mont., where Troy managed music venues, to Maine’s rocky coast earlier this year.
The chance to work together at the restaurant is a welcome one.
“This is an opportunity to work with my wife, see my kid every single day and it’s been a real blessing,” Troy shared.
Guests can enjoy homemade specialties and Taco Wednesday, which could include selections like spicy Chile pork tacos.
Troy squeezes fresh juices himself for the craft cocktails — coined with clever monikers — like the “Liar, Liar Pants on Fire,” which is made with house infused jalapeño tequila, ruby red grapefruit, lime juice, agave and soda water.
The menu also includes creative, nonalcoholic beverages, like cucumber chili limeade and blueberry lemonade.
“We love to eat good food and we love to drink good drinks,” Troy said. “That’s kind of what we’re doing here.”
The name of the restaurant and watering hole pays tribute to the building’s late predecessors, esteemed artists Syd Browne and Sandy James, who owned The Art Gallery for decades.
The building, which was vacant for several years before the Christensens bought it, also has connections to World War II, where it was used as a civil defense headquarters, Jesse Christensen explained. At one time, the building, first constructed in 1923, had a circular deck on its roof that was used for plane-spotting.
Local builders helped transform the building into the new venue, while maintaining its character, including its tin walls and ceilings.
Kevin Bunch crafted the bar and Ryan Daley added bench seating. Daley also built the liquor display behind the bar, using wood milled from his father.
The gallery’s original sign that once directed travelers from Route 1, along with photographs Browne took as inspiration for his paintings, decorate the walls inside, connecting the building’s past with its present.
Like most businesses this year, the Lorenzes are experiencing the area’s hiring crunch, and may eventually expand to the property’s outside patio if they can hire more help. Until then, the business remains a three-person, indoor operation.
The reception from the community has been warm and business has boomed.
“The people here have been amazing,” Troy said.
“The community’s really neat,” he added, noting the area’s vibrant art scene, an especially welcome asset for Maren, who handmakes women’s clogs, and Steph, a fiber artist.
“It’s been a really great start,” Troy said. “We’ll definitely be back next year.”
Plans are to operate the business seasonally, from May through October.
The Gallery Restaurant and Cocktail Bar is open Wednesday through Sunday, from noon to 8 p.m.