How one Maine town made sure it had a place to eat out this summer



Food-world connections and eager investors helped get the beloved family restaurant Dennett's Wharf up and running in Castine.

The quiet, dignified streets of the Down East town of Castine are lined with more than 300 flourishing elms that, thanks in part to the coastal towns continuing care and maintenance, survived the nations Dutch elm blight of the early 20th century.

They shade the lawns of grand and gloriously preserved Federal and Georgian homes and inns set on land that rolls gently down to Castine Harbor, where shingled and weathered boat houses stand alongside Dennetts Wharf.

First built as a sail loft to manufacture big canvases and at one time home to nine-pin bowling lanes, Dennetts Wharf has been a restaurant and lounge for at least two generations now. Among the handful of spots in town to get a cocktail and a bite to eat, for residents, its most like an extension of home.

But last winter, changing circumstances including retirement, illness, COVID and new ownership meant that none of those places, including Dennetts Wharf, planned to open this summer season. A forlorn feeling set in among the towns 1,300 year-round residents  after two-plus pandemic years, people were aching to get out.

Suddenly there was nowhere in town for people to get together anymore, said Cassie Vogell, a Castine native whose great-grandfather built the Castine Inn on Main Street in 1898.

Beyond sentiment and social needs, the prospect of a summer without most of Casti....

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