ELLSWORTH — The Riverside Cafe, a local favorite in downtown Ellsworth, is under new ownership. Joe Allen, who has spent more than two decades in the restaurant business, purchased the restaurant on May 14.
Allen worked for many years at the Chart Room in Bar Harbor, but when that restaurant changed ownership, Allen decided that it was the right time to take the next step and become a restaurant owner himself.
“I worked there for 20-plus years, I managed it for 11 or 12 years,” Allen said about his experience at the Chart Room.
“They sold,” he continued, “and I’ve always wanted my own restaurant.”
Allen said he likes everything about the Riverside Cafe the way it is in terms of the atmosphere, appearance and menu. He said that there is not much that he feels needs to be changed at the restaurant, as it is already quite popular in the area and has a loyal customer base.
“I want to keep the same feel of the restaurant, I don’t want to change anything too much,” Allen said. “They got a pretty great thing going.”
This means customers can expect the menu to stay as it is, since Allen sees no reason to alter it given its popularity with customers.
“Everybody loves everything so far that I noticed, that’s why it’s hard to come in here and change anything really,” Allen said. “And there is such a loyal following.”
While Allen does not have plans to make changes to the meals on the menu, he strives to continually better the ingredients within those meals to ensure that a high standard of quality is met.
“The only changes that I’ve been trying to do with the menu is just try to get higher quality ingredients in here,” he said, “just for a better product.”
Hours of operation are one thing about the Riverside Cafe that Allen would like to adjust. Currently, the restaurant is open from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. for breakfast and lunch and is closed on Thursdays, but Allen would like to extend those hours.
“I would like to open up for Thursdays,” Allen said. “I would like to eventually get dinners, even if it’s just for the weekend.”
This could take a bit of time to accomplish, as it would require some more staff to work on Thursdays and evenings, but Allen would like to see it happen in the near future if possible.
“Always looking for more [staff] so that we can open up for Thursdays and dinners,” Allen said.
As for the existing staff, no changes have been made with the turnover of ownership, meaning the cooking and service remain the same as they were before Allen took over the restaurant.
“It’s a very smart, great business,” he said.