AUGUSTA — The longtime owners of Augusta Seafood have sold the North Belfast Avenue store, but a familiar face will stick around to help manage the business.

Jeff Benedict, the younger of the two brothers whose family had owned the seafood store for around 40 years, will remain as general manager even though the building and business are now owned by another family.

“We’re not going to lose the good old-fashioned, down-to-earth Maine hospitality,” Jeff Benedict said.

Janie Cheng, whose family business purchased the building, emphasized that the store will remain the same, besides a few additional offerings. Cheng said she plans to add beer and wine and some produce to the store. She also might start delivering seafood orders locally at some point.

“The quality and the service stays the same,” Cheng said.

She said she wants customers to know that “the mom-and-pop store is still down the road.”

Bob Benedict, who still stops by the store to help out, is adjusting to his retirement from full-time work. For decades, he had been getting to the store no later than 6 a.m. and staying until around 6 at night, he said.

“It’s going to be different. It really is. I have mixed emotions,” Bob Benedict said. “I’m not going to miss the hours. But the people, we had a very good rapport with our customers.”

He said he and Jeff knew almost all customers by name and that he would miss the customers the most. The brothers took over the store from their parents, Bill and Florence Benedict, who bought the business in the mid-1970s.

“It’s kind of like a giant weight getting lifted off your shoulders. Now it’s someone else’s responsibility,” Bob Benedict said.

The sale of the building was finalized Jan. 2, he said.

He said he’s confident the new owners will maintain the same quality and friendly service, and he thinks they have good ideas for the store.

Bob Benedict, who turned 62 in December, said he’s looking forward to no longer turning down invitations for hunting and fishing trips with his friends.

“Now there’s maybe more time for myself,” he said.

Members of Cheng’s family also own China King on Western Avenue, but they plan to close the restaurant shortly. Her family business that bought the Augusta Seafood building, AJ & K, Inc., is already transporting lobster to other parts of New England, Cheng said, so it made sense to operate the seafood store.

Cheng said she wants to increase the number of lobsters the store ships and possibly start serving coffee to encourage more people to stop by the store.

“Everything is going to be the same old store,” she said.

Paul Koenig — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @paul_koenig

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