FAIRFIELD — Nearly three years after the Indian restaurant came to town, the Dancing Elephant II on Main Street has closed.

A sign on the front door stated that the restaurant was closed to business with the public by the Maine Revenue Service for noncompliance with tax requirements. It’s not clear when the sign was posted, and the most recent social media activity for the restaurant was on Facebook on Sept. 15.

The note states the noncompliance issue has to do with sales and use taxes.

David Heidrich, director of communications in the Office of the Commissioner of the Department of Administrative and Financial Services, said the taxpayer’s sales tax certificate was revoked for failure to pay sales tax that was collected. He said Maine Revenue Service will continue to make efforts to recover the sales tax “that was not remitted to the state.”

“The Dancing Elephant could reopen if they were to repay the owed tax in full and obtain a valid sales tax certificate,” Heidrich said Friday afternoon. “Additionally, I’d note that state law requires Maine Revenue Services to provide at least 15 days’ notice to a business that is at risk of having its sales tax certificate revoked. Due to taxpayer confidentiality laws, I’m prohibited from disclosing any further information.”

The Dancing Elephant opened at 166 Main St. in the fall of 2014 and is listed for sale. Iqbal Hossain, the restaurant’s owner, could not be reached for comment. Phone calls to the restaurant could not be completed.


According to a Facebook post from Sept. 15, the restaurant had reduced its hours of operations from six days a week to just Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.

The restaurant applied for renewal of its liquor license, which was approved at a Town Council meeting on Sept. 13. Town Manager Michelle Flewelling said the restaurant’s current license expires in November.

The restaurant had moved from its original location in Westbrook to Fairfield. Hossain had leased a Portland location, but it was damaged by fire in 2012. The restaurant has received mostly positive Yelp reviews, averaging four out of five stars on the community review website.

In Fairfield the Dancing Elephant II replaced the Kennebec Cafe, a doughnut shop that had operated at the spot for 12 years before moving to Dexter and changing the company name to Cooper’s Trail.

Hossain had bought the building with the intent to renovate the three storefronts and two apartments on the second floor in the building. He had hoped to rent the renovated storefronts to other businesses.

When the Dancing Elephant II came to Fairfield, it was billed as the only Indian restaurant in the area, the closest being 60 miles away in Bangor. The Jewel of India on Main Street in Waterville opened the same fall as Dancing Elephant II.


The Dancing Elephant II was viewed as a step forward to revitalizing the Fairfield downtown. However, revitalization has remained largely flat, with many storefront vacancies remaining on Main Street. The lot of the former Joseph’s Clothing & Sporting Goods store at the corner of Main and Lawrence streets also has remained vacant, though it has been sold to Hermon-based Ellis Commercial Management.

Other efforts to reinvigorate the downtown have succeeded. The long-vacant Gerald Hotel on Main Street now provides 28 housing units for seniors, which capped off a $6.5 million renovation project. Meridians, a craft beer and wine store, opened on the first floor of that building in 2014.

During the renovation phase, the working theory was that investments in the project would help the local economy prosper. Project employees would eat at the local restaurants during construction, and more businesses would follow into the downtown area, filling up the vacant storefronts and empty lots.

Garvan Donegan, economic development specialist for the Central Maine Growth Council, said while the restaurant space is vacant, the building offers an opportunity for another food or retail business to operate in downtown Fairfield. He said the property could be purchased or leased, and both options are good opportunities for a potential new business to get a nice facility in the downtown area. The building already has commercial-grade kitchen equipment. He did not think it was a bad sign for business that the restaurant closed.

“Retail activity ebbs and flows,” Donegan said. “I don’t think it’s any indicator of a broader scene.”

Donegan said there has been interest in the site in the past few weeks. A local business looking to expand and a Portland-based restaurateur have looked at the Fairfield location.


“I don’t know exactly what will occur with that, but it would be a good fit for another food business, or general retail or potential office space,” he said.

Donegan said he didn’t believe a final decision had been made regarding the business, and that the owners are still in a “careful deliberation process” regarding plans for the restaurant. Theoretically, the Dancing Elephant II could open at the Main Street location again.

“They are still reviewing all their options,” Donegan said.

Donegan said he thinks the restaurant was well-liked and will be missed. He said it brought diversity to the region’s food options, and that the owners may want to focus on other locations in southern Maine.

Colin Ellis — 861-9253


Twitter: @colinoellis

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