Chef Justin Walker and restaurant manager Danielle Johnson Walker have purchased the Cape Neddick Inn Restaurant and will be leaving Earth at Hidden Pond in Kennebunkport at the end of the 2017 season.

Justin Walker said their new restaurant will continue running as usual through the summer, while he and his wife finish their final season at Earth.

“Our plan is to keep all the staff” at Cape Neddick, which is in York, he said. “We will close eventually for renovations, and we will have more detailed information about that when we get closer to that time.”

Tim Harrington, a founding partner of the Kennebunkport Resort Collection, which owns Earth, said in a statement that he and the other partners are “incredibly proud of all that Earth at Hidden Pond has accomplished with the Walkers, and are excited about what’s on the horizon for our restaurant. We’re thrilled about Justin and Danielle’s new project.”

Harrington said the company’s executive team has been in discussions with potential replacements for the Walkers and will have an announcement soon about who will take over the kitchen at Earth.

Before landing at Earth, the couple worked at the legendary Arrows Restaurant in Ogunquit. For the Walkers, who are married and have a young son, the choice to strike out on their own was “a lifestyle decision,” Justin Walker said. They want more of a work-life balance.

“We wanted to leave Earth for a number of reasons, but the No. 1 reason was to be closer to our home, to utilize our farm more,” he said. “We’re really excited about the possibility of incorporating more of our farm into what we do on a day-to-day basis in the restaurant. We’ll have more control over hours, more control over overall operations.”

The couple live on a farm just four miles from the Cape Neddick Inn, and their son will be able to take the school bus right to the restaurant’s front door.

The restaurant (which is not actually an inn) will serve dinner year round and brunch on Sundays. Walker will meet with the current chef, Matthew Souder, next week, but said he doesn’t foresee any immediate, major changes in the menu – although the couple will, eventually, put their own stamp on the place.

“We’re not going to just make Earth there,” he said. “It’s going to be something a little different than what we do here.”

Walker said the food would be local and seasonal, with lots of shareable plates, both large and small. He said he wants to serve a variety of good, “wholesome” food at “reasonable prices.”

The Walkers closed on the deal Monday. The Cape Neddick Inn’s previous owner, David Heavner, bought the place in 2007 and did a complete renovation, adding a fieldstone fireplace to the formal dining room. He also landscaped the entire two-acre lot.

Meredith Goad can be contacted at 791-6332 or at:

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