Lisa Liberatore is rolling her burrito business in downtown Gardiner up to a second location in downtown Augusta.

The new, second location of Lisa’s Legit Burritos, which has operated on Water Street in Gardiner since 2011, could open by the end of the month. That’s if the extensive renovations Liberatore and her husband, Ian Pillsbury, are making at their new 185 Water St., Augusta, location can be completed fast enough.

The renovations are meant to make their new location look and feel old again. The building in which the business will be was built in 1862, according to city assessing records.

“It was pretty much your typical 1980s storefront turned office space,” building owner Toebee Parkhurst said of the spot, most recently home to a seasonal tax-preparation business. “It had a dropped ceiling, closed-in small windows, commercial carpet, you know, boring. What they’re doing in there now, which has worked in other places, is restore the space back to its historic glory days. They brought the tin ceiling back, there’s beautiful glass there you never noticed before, they’re opening up big windows to bring major daylight in there. It’s not just going to be a restaurant. It’s going to be an experience. What sets us apart, downtown, is the character of those buildings.”

Liberatore said she loves old buildings and having her business downtown. She said the restaurant’s downtown Gardiner location, which she said has been successful and will remain open after the new location opens, has been a very welcoming place for her business and she has found the same atmosphere so far in Augusta, too.

“The people we’ve met so far in downtown Augusta are so friendly and welcoming, they seem to care for each other here,” the Gardiner resident, whose 10-month-old son, Dorian, is a regular presence at the Gardiner eatery, said. “That’s how it is in Gardiner. You can go across the street and borrow things from other businesses if you run out. People help each other out. I’m excited to be a part of that.”

The business will employ five or six people in Augusta and Liberatore hopes to open by the end of August.

The business will join five other dining establishments in the city’s under-revitalization downtown, though none of the others specialize in Mexican fare.

“Food drives the rebirth of a downtown,” said Larry Fleury, president of Augusta Downtown Alliance, a nonprofit organization working to revitalize the downtown. “We’ll have six places to eat and drink downtown now. And it’s different than the others. They really specialize. When you’re hungry for Mexican, that’s what you want.”

Parkhurst also owns the building that houses the Downtown Diner across Water Street in the former Hershey Shoe store. Those owners left the old stained-glass store sign up as a homage to what went before.

“The same thing happened with the Downtown Diner, it brought in somebody who already has a successful business, knows what they’re doing, and has an established customer base,” said Parkhurst, who has eaten at the Gardiner Lisa’s Legit Burritos. “It brings them up to the next level. It’s a huge win for downtown Augusta because we replace a place with a limited amount of foot traffic only certain times of the year with a business that’s going to be open every day for lunch and dinner. And it’s good. They know what they’re doing.”

Keith Edwards — 621-5647
[email protected]

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