HALLOWELL — If you plan to visit the Maine House under its current ownership, you’d better get there soon.

Owners Deanna Thibeau and her mother, Coby, in the process of transferring ownership of the craft cocktail bar on Water Street, were expecting to shut the doors for the final time either Thursday or Friday night.

“If we run out of booze tonight, it’ll be our last night,” Deanna Thibeau said Thursday. However, she expects she will be cleaning the bar with her mother Saturday during Hallowell’s holiday celebration and invited friends to come say hi.

“We’ll have the door unlocked while we’re cleaning, and if we have any leftover beer, well,” she said. “Stop in and say ‘hi’ or ‘bye’ or whatever.”

Leah Sampson, a bartender at Slates just a few doors down on Water Street, and local restaurateur Geoffrey Houghton, who owns the neighboring Liberal Cup, the Governor Hill Mansion banquet hall in Augusta and a brew pub in Saco, are putting the finishing touches on the purchase of the Maine House from the mother-and-daughter team that has run the bar the last 16 months.

“We’ll be writing the next chapter and continuing what they’ve done,” Sampson said. She had spent the past few years bartending three times a week at Slates while spending most of her time with her children, but she is ready for the challenge of owning and operating her own place.

“I’ll be there full time,” Sampson said. “I’m really excited.”

The owners had no intentions of selling the place they opened 16 months ago until a life change for Deanna led her mother to suggest she move to Florida with her boyfriend.

“I knew she was going to be miserable, and I didn’t want to work with her like that,” Coby Thibeau said. “I’ve learned something in 30-odd years.”

Without her daughter mixing drinks, the business could have stayed open, but Coby didn’t want to have to hire someone else.

“We started it together, so we wanted to finish it together,” Deanna Thibeau said.

The pair posted a message on Facebook on Nov. 30 indicating they were putting the bar up for sale, and they had immediate interest.

“What we were looking for in particular was somebody that was going to keep it the Maine House and keep the flavor of it as it is now,” Coby said. “That’s what the people in town really come in here for. We wanted someone to step in and continue with the craft cocktails.”

Sampson, a longtime friend of Deanna, found out about the sale the day before the Facebook message. She reached out to Houghton for advice, and after a number of conversations, Houghton offered to become a partner.

The new owners recently completed their LLC registration and are in the process of obtaining the necessary permits and licenses. Both would like to reopen the new Maine House as soon as possible.

The Maine House, located at 119 Water St., offers craft cocktails and Maine-brewed drafts.

Jason Pafundi — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @jasonpafundiKJ


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