The Purple House, a nationally known cafe in North Yarmouth that makes wood-fired bagels and pizza, house-smoked fish, salads, sandwiches and home-made ice-cream, will remain on a seasonal schedule for the foreseeable future, according to chef/owner Krista Desjarlais.

Desjarlais announced in late June that the Purple House at 378 Walnut Hill Road would close for the summer and reopen in October because she had trouble finding workers for her summer business, Bresca & the Honeybee, an upscale snack shack at Sabbathday Lake. The cafe opened for business late last December.

“To get the cooks out here are almost impossible,” she said in a call from the snack shack. “The wages have increased – Portland is paying people $14, $16, $17 an hour for line cooks with basically no experience because they’re short on help. To get someone out here for a couple of months at $10 an hour – because that’s what I can pay – it just didn’t happen.”

Desjarlais also decided to limit her snack shack menu to home-made ice cream and desserts at Bresca & the Honeybee this summer. She said she was putting in 100 hours a week maintaining both businesses before she scaled back.

The Purple House will remain on an October-through-June schedule, closing July through September, Desjarlais said, adding that she is open to going back to a year-round schedule if the staffing situation changes “or if one day I no longer own the beach business.”

Earlier in August, the Purple House was named one of the 50 finalists for Bon Appetit’s annual list of “Best New Restaurants in America.”


This summer, Desjarlais is pouring all her creativity into the snack shack’s ice cream (and occasional pastries on weekends), churning out flavors such as Maine blueberry and an ice cream made with Allagash’s 16 Counties beer dotted with maple pecans. Desjarlais said she’s also making new flavors for kids this summer. “Hot Lava” is colored a dark slate gray with food-grade coconut ash, and has strawberry caramel, white chocolate chunks and dark chocolate buckwheat cake mixed in. Boo Berry – a strong vanilla base with fresh blueberries and marshmallow cream folded in – is a take on the cereal. Desjarlais then stirs in organic crushed flower petals from Thailand that “turn it a pitch-perfect blue naturally.”

“It ends up being completely silly,” she said, “but people love it.”

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

[email protected]

Twitter: MeredithGoad

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