AnsweredHot!Helen's Restaurant in Machias, Maine--destroyed by fire

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JB-ME
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2014/07/11 13:21:42 (permalink)

Helen's Restaurant in Machias, Maine--destroyed by fire

There have been several news reports about a fire that destroyed Helen's Restaurant in Machias, which is in Downeast Maine--next stop Canada--and not far from the easternmost point in the USA.Very sad news for all to hear of the loss--a business in a small town and local jobs, as well as the good food that drew people to the restaurant for decades.

Bangor Daily News: http://bangordailynews.co...ens-destroyed-in-fire/
Article written by the daughter of the owners:
http://lifeasawardenwife.bangordailynews.com/2014/07/11/home/helens-restaurant-in-flames-tragic-loss-for-downeast-maine/
I think this will be of interest to many. BB's photos are part of the Bilmes and Boyle review: http://www.roadfood.com/Restaurant/Overview/2143/helens-restaurant

 
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buffetbuster
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Re: Helen's Restaurant in Machias, Maine--destroyed by fire 2014/07/11 13:24:04 (permalink)
Oh no!  I was just there a little more than a month ago.  This is a terrific restaurant and epitomizes what Roadfood is all about.  What a loss!
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JB-ME
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Re: Helen's Restaurant in Machias, Maine--destroyed by fire 2014/07/11 14:10:10 (permalink)
Sorry to bring the bad news.
The article by the owners' daughter had the good news that her parents are planning to rebuild. The problem is summer is short and this should be their busiest season. Tough to not have that income and to put other people out of work, too. Hopefully, they carried good insurance.
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Wintahaba
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Re: Helen's Restaurant in Machias, Maine--destroyed by fire 2014/07/11 15:08:08 (permalink)
Very sad, I wish them the best. Helen's has been an institution in Down East, Maine and is a very important part of the area's fabric. Best of luck.
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JB-ME
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Re: Helen's Restaurant in Machias, Maine--destroyed by fire 2014/07/11 20:31:57 (permalink)
Wintahaba--any connection with Winter Harbor on the Maine coast?
BB--is there a Maine trip report coming up at some point? In Maine there is a saying--you can't get there from here. Machias is one of those places that you really have to try hard to get to. It doesn't just happen that you end up there!
Update with owners interviewed: http://bangordailynews.co...ers-pledge-to-rebuild/
 
 
post edited by JB-ME - 2014/07/12 09:09:02
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Wintahaba
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Re: Helen's Restaurant in Machias, Maine--destroyed by fire 2014/07/12 11:01:18 (permalink)
JB, Yes, my hometown.
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Re: Helen's Restaurant in Machias, Maine--destroyed by fire 2014/07/12 14:55:33 (permalink)
Wintahaba
JB, Yes, my hometown.


What a beautiful place to call home! I remember the first time I visited the Schoodic Peninsula. Beautiful and the only part of Acadia NP on the Maine mainland. My mother was also from Hancock County, but from Stonington on Deer Isle. Another beautiful area.
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Re: Helen's Restaurant in Machias, Maine--destroyed by fire 2014/07/14 14:53:02 (permalink)
JB-ME
BB--is there a Maine trip report coming up at some point? In Maine there is a saying--you can't get there from here. Machias is one of those places that you really have to try hard to get to. It doesn't just happen that you end up there!
Update with owners interviewed: http://bangordailynews.co...ers-pledge-to-rebuild/
 
Sorry, no trip report for the Maine trip.  I did enjoy some fantastic food and gorgeous scenery, but it is hard to find the time to do trip reports anymore.  My destination for that day was Quoddy Head State Park, the easternmost point in the country and I ate had breakfast at Helen's on the way there, plus lunch on the way back.


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JB-ME
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Re: Helen's Restaurant in Machias, Maine--destroyed by fire 2014/07/14 21:35:43 (permalink)
 Are you trying to collect all the compass points in the US--easternmost, western, etc? I've been there a few times and most times it has been foggy. It would be sunny overhead, but I couldn't see Grand Manan Island right nearby. There was a reason to build that beautiful lighthouse! Glad you got in two visits to Helen's that trip! 
post edited by JB-ME - 2014/07/15 06:22:49
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Re: Helen's Restaurant in Machias, Maine--destroyed by fire 2014/07/14 21:52:50 (permalink)
JB-ME-
Nothing like that, it just seemed like a cool place to visit.  And it was!

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Tony Bad
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Re: Helen's Restaurant in Machias, Maine--destroyed by fire 2014/07/14 22:36:35 (permalink)
Very sad to read about this. I will be up that way in a few weeks and will really miss my stop at Helen's. 
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Re: Helen's Restaurant in Machias, Maine--destroyed by fire 2014/07/15 00:22:22 (permalink)
Tony--don't know where/when you will be in Maine, but I have a favorite lobster shack that has not been RF-reviewed, but it is a great place--Waterman's Beach Lobster, which is near Rockland in the Midcoast area. They have limited hours and season--from Father's Day weekend to September 21st this year and are open from Wednesday through Sunday.
http://www.watermansbeachlobster.com/
They are right on the water. They have steamed lobsters, clams, etc., but they also have homemade sides and desserts and pies. Their lobster and crab rolls are both served on hamburger buns and can be toasted, if you want. I can vouch for both rolls--many times over. And the lobster. And a dessert or two. Click on the contact link at their website for directions/maps.
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Re: Helen's Restaurant in Machias, Maine--destroyed by fire 2014/07/15 05:49:10 (permalink)
Tony Bad
Very sad to read about this. I will be up that way in a few weeks and will really miss my stop at Helen's. 

If you're in the area of Stonington, you can take a 45 minute ride on the Mail boat from there over to Isle au Haut, an island that's home to part of the Acadia National Forest and "The Maine Lobster Lady" Lobster Shack.
She's from there but runs her concession trailer out here in AZ in the Fall thru Spring.
www.mainelobsterlady.com
http://isleauhaut.com/aboutisleauhaut.html
Her food is OUTSTANDING!
 
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JB-ME
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Re: Helen's Restaurant in Machias, Maine--destroyed by fire 2014/07/15 08:51:26 (permalink)
I turned on the radio this morning and caught a few minutes of an interview with David Barker, one of the owners of Helen's. He said that the state fire marshal has not determined the cause of the fire--and may never be able to do so. It is still under investigation, though. He was saying how humbling it was to hear from people locally and in Maine, as well as people from out of state to wish them well and show support. He also said something about the Machias blueberry festival: http://www.machiasblueberry.com/index.php
That's where I turned on the radio. He sounded upbeat about rebuilding.
Foodbme--I know you've mentioned "The Maine Lobster Lady" before. She sounds good. Have you had her food in Maine or only in AZ? Isle au Haut is gorgeous. While in high school, Mom enjoyed a summer there working at an inn. Then a few years ago my nephew and his wife went over, spent the night at a B&B and hiked Acadia. They loved it. I've visited Stonington many times, since it is my mother's home town. Never made it over to Isle au Haut. Have taken the state ferry to Vinalhaven quite a number of times. That was my father's home town. Beautiful ferry ride!
post edited by JB-ME - 2014/07/15 09:02:54
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wanderingjew
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Re: Helen's Restaurant in Machias, Maine--destroyed by fire 2014/07/15 09:04:53 (permalink)
JB-ME
 
I too am saddenned by the loss of Helen's. I went there once in 1998 and really enjoyed their blueberry pie and I believe I had a seafood pasta dish at the time.
 
We will be in Maine next month for a weekend. How does Watermen's Beach Lobster compare with Five Island Lobster?
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Foodbme
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Re: Helen's Restaurant in Machias, Maine--destroyed by fire 2014/07/15 13:26:02 (permalink)
JB-ME
I turned on the radio this morning and caught a few minutes of an interview with David Barker, one of the owners of Helen's. He said that the state fire marshal has not determined the cause of the fire--and may never be able to do so. It is still under investigation, though. He was saying how humbling it was to hear from people locally and in Maine, as well as people from out of state to wish them well and show support. He also said something about the Machias blueberry festival: http://www.machiasblueberry.com/index.php
That's where I turned on the radio. He sounded upbeat about rebuilding.
Foodbme--I know you've mentioned "The Maine Lobster Lady" before. She sounds good. Have you had her food in Maine or only in AZ? Isle au Haut is gorgeous. While in high school, Mom enjoyed a summer there working at an inn. Then a few years ago my nephew and his wife went over, spent the night at a B&B and hiked Acadia. They loved it. I've visited Stonington many times, since it is my mother's home town. Never made it over to Isle au Haut. Have taken the state ferry to Vinalhaven quite a number of times. That was my father's home town. Beautiful ferry ride!

I've not been to Isle au Haut.
The Lobster Lady found me here on Roadfood over 3 years ago when she was contemplating doing business out here. She owned a home here and thought Lobster Rolls would do well out here. And they have. She has a loyal following on Facebook & Tweeter.
The first year they hauled the trailer out here and back. Then they built a lobster shack on the island and left the trailer out here.
I helped her get started out here. Did some leg work for her; sourcing supplies, locations for her trailer, cold storage, business introductions, etc.
Small World! Prior to her Lobster business, she operated the B&B on the island! 
Her business & life partner is a Lobsterman.
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JB-ME
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Re: Helen's Restaurant in Machias, Maine--destroyed by fire 2014/07/15 21:56:49 (permalink)
wanderingjew
We will be in Maine next month for a weekend. How does Watermen's Beach Lobstercompare with Five Island Lobster?

I can't do a comparison, since I haven't been to Five Island Lobster. I remember you writing about it a few years ago, and it sounded good. I can only vouch for Watermen's Beach Lobster and many different items on their menu. It has been mentioned in a number of different publications over the years and won a James Beard award. This is a recently published article. It lists both places.
http://www.travelandleisu...obster-shacks-in-maine
I lived in Rockland for a few years many years ago, and later had relatives in nursing homes in the general area, so I was often there and would pick up lobster and crab rolls to take to the nursing home. I would also go there when family and friends were in 'from away'. Like many who live here, I more often would go to a seafood market and buy scallops, haddock, fresh Maine crabmeat or lobsters. Prepare them myself. Cheaper and it is prepared the way I like it! Jess' on South Main Street in Rockland is one such market. Think small, friendly market. http://jessmarket.com/ They also sell the rolls, mayo, chips, fresh corn in season, and other things to go with your seafood. Jess' ships, too.
And then there is the Maine Lobster Festival, if you like eating lobster dinners with lots of other folks.
http://www.mainelobsterfestival.com/
post edited by JB-ME - 2014/08/31 01:58:13
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JB-ME
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Re: Helen's Restaurant in Machias, Maine--destroyed by fire 2014/07/15 22:37:58 (permalink)
Foodbme
I've not been to Isle au Haut.
The Lobster Lady found me here on Roadfood over 3 years ago when she was contemplating doing business out here. She owned a home here and thought Lobster Rolls would do well out here. And they have. She has a loyal following on Facebook & Tweeter.
The first year they hauled the trailer out here and back. Then they built a lobster shack on the island and left the trailer out here.
I helped her get started out here. Did some leg work for her; sourcing supplies, locations for her trailer, cold storage, business introductions, etc.
Small World! Prior to her Lobster business, she operated the B&B on the island! 
Her business & life partner is a Lobsterman.

'Tis a small world indeed. My nephew and his wife went over to the island BK (before 3 kids--the oldest is almost 8). It isn't true now, but then there were no places to eat, so the B&B provided all meals, including packing lunches for those who came to hike.
You say you helped her get started. Have you had experience in the restaurant/food service area? Sounds like you had some fun helping her get started.
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Foodbme
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Re: Helen's Restaurant in Machias, Maine--destroyed by fire 2014/07/16 01:25:21 (permalink)
JB-ME
Foodbme
I've not been to Isle au Haut.
The Lobster Lady found me here on Roadfood over 3 years ago when she was contemplating doing business out here. She owned a home here and thought Lobster Rolls would do well out here. And they have. She has a loyal following on Facebook & Tweeter.
The first year they hauled the trailer out here and back. Then they built a lobster shack on the island and left the trailer out here.
I helped her get started out here. Did some leg work for her; sourcing supplies, locations for her trailer, cold storage, business introductions, etc.
Small World! Prior to her Lobster business, she operated the B&B on the island! 
Her business & life partner is a Lobsterman.

'Tis a small world indeed. My nephew and his wife went over to the island BK (before 3 kids--the oldest is almost 8). It isn't true now, but then there were no places to eat, so the B&B provided all meals, including packing lunches for those who came to hike.
You say you helped her get started. Have you had experience in the restaurant/food service area? Sounds like you had some fun helping her get started.


My experience in the restaurant business is on the operational/marketing side, not the back of the house side.
I'm a amateur chef at home and love to cook a lot of stuff and haven't poisoned anyone yet!
 
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wanderingjew
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Re: Helen's Restaurant in Machias, Maine--destroyed by fire 2014/07/16 22:00:34 (permalink)
JB-ME
 
Waterman's sounds like a place I'd like to check out in the future. Unfortunately , since it is 80 miles from Portland we won't have time to visit on this trip
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JB-ME
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Re: Helen's Restaurant in Machias, Maine--destroyed by fire 2014/07/16 22:22:38 (permalink)
buffetbuster
JB-ME-
Nothing like that, it just seemed like a cool place to visit.  And it was!


Glad you had a nice visit. Without making it a trip report, what restaurants did you visit--other than Helen's? Fly into Bangor?
 
Foodbme
My experience in the restaurant business is on the operational/marketing side, not the back of the house side.
I'm a amateur chef at home and love to cook a lot of stuff and haven't poisoned anyone yet!

Glad to know you haven't poisoned anyone. Do you have a chef's specialty?
I wouldn't call myself a chef, but a competent cook, yes, and an accomplished baker. I used to do a lot more baking than I currently do, and would bake six loaves of bread at a time and freeze most of it. Now I am more likely to use my 20+ year old bread machine and just make one loaf with a recipe I formulated. Its the easy way out and not quite the same texture as hand-kneaded and oven-baked bread. I tried to replace my old bread machine a few years ago with a modern one that did everything, but the results were not as good as my old one. Plus you didn't need to haul out the manual every time you used it! I gave the new one away to a good home.
wanderingjew
Waterman's sounds like a place I'd like to check out in the future. Unfortunately , since it is 80 miles from Portland we won't have time to visit on this trip

Maybe another summer, assuming you won't be back to Maine this year. Portland certainly is a vibrant city with lots of restaurants to choose from of all kinds and ethnicities. Much like Portland, OR. I was there some years ago to attend a wedding and enjoyed Thai food and Mongolian and...seafood on the day the family took a trip to the coast. Enjoy your trip!
 
post edited by JB-ME - 2014/07/16 23:03:51
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buffetbuster
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Re: Helen's Restaurant in Machias, Maine--destroyed by fire 2014/07/18 14:09:31 (permalink)
JB-ME-
Since Southwest is my airline of choice, I flew in and out of Manchester, NH.  It will take too long to list all the restaurants visited, but a few of my favorites were:
 
Obviously Helen's Restaurant in Machias
Eagle's Nest in Brewer
Becky's in Portland
Mabel's Lobster Claw in Kennebunkport
Young's Lobster Pound in Belfast
Red's Eats in Wiscasset
and Monica's Chocolates in Lubec.
 
This was one of the best trips Roadfood-wise I have ever taken.
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JB-ME
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Re: Helen's Restaurant in Machias, Maine--destroyed by fire 2014/07/19 21:37:14 (permalink)
FYI--were you aware that for a year or so now Southwest has been flying into the Portland Jetport? That would have saved about 2 hours of driving off each end of your trip. Or did the flight times not work for you?
Nice list of restaurants. No stop for pie at Moody's Diner in Waldoboro? They are famous for pie and other things.
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buffetbuster
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Re: Helen's Restaurant in Machias, Maine--destroyed by fire 2014/07/19 21:57:56 (permalink)
JB-ME-
I did look at flying into Portland, but Manchester was several hundred dollars cheaper, with more flight options.  And here is my blueberry pie from Moody's.

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Re: Helen's Restaurant in Machias, Maine--destroyed by fire 2014/07/19 22:48:41 (permalink)
Yum, hope you got a scoop of vanilla ice cream to use up all that blueberry syrup!!
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Re: Helen's Restaurant in Machias, Maine--destroyed by fire 2014/07/19 23:00:29 (permalink) ☼ Best Answerby JB-ME 2014/07/19 23:25:03
Sorry, no, I am a pie purist.  No ice cream on my pies!  I actually had an even better slice of blueberry pie at Mabel's Lobster Claw, which was my favorite restaurant of the trip.
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JB-ME
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Re: Helen's Restaurant in Machias, Maine--destroyed by fire 2014/07/19 23:35:31 (permalink)
What made the slice of blueberry pie at Mabel's Lobster Claw better? What was your meal there? I've visited Kennebunkport, but not that restaurant.
Frankly, a blueberry pie that I bake would have more thickener (flour, tapioca, or cornstarch) than Moody's pie and wouldn't be runny or just barely so.
My father liked Moody's custard pie. He also liked mine. He liked it so much he ordered a big tin of whole nutmegs for me to use.
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Re: Helen's Restaurant in Machias, Maine--destroyed by fire 2014/07/19 23:54:39 (permalink)
The pie at Moody's tasted old, like it had been sitting around for several days.  At Mabel's, not only did the blueberries taste fresher, the flaky, sugary sweet cobbler-like crust was truly outstanding!

Along with excellent clam chowder and lobster roll, it made for a memorable meal.
 
Maybe next time at Moody's the custard pie will be the way to go.
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Re: Helen's Restaurant in Machias, Maine--destroyed by fire 2014/07/20 00:07:58 (permalink)
That really is a beautiful piece of pie!!!
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Re: Helen's Restaurant in Machias, Maine--destroyed by fire 2014/07/20 09:23:47 (permalink)
Thanks lleechef!  In a weekend full of great desserts, that may have been my favorite.
 
To get this thread back on track (which I am responsible for getting it off track).....
 
JB-ME-
Could you please keep us updated on the rebuilding of Helen's
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