WATERVILLE — Eight years ago, Kevin Joseph and his business partner E.J. Fabian bought the former Jade Island restaurant on West River Road with aspirations to start a steakhouse specializing in high quality meats.

Joseph, whose family started Joseph’s Market on Front Street and ran the store for 90 years, said owning and operating the store got him thinking about running his own restaurant.

“It just seemed natural,” said Joseph, 61, of Oakland. “We were known for having great quality meat, and it seemed like a natural thing to have a steakhouse in Waterville, one that would cut its own steak on premises and grind its own hamburger on the premises.”

In June 2011, Joseph and Fabian, who also owns Fabian Oil Inc. and Fabian Transportation Inc., opened Joseph’s Fireside Steakhouse at 99 West River Road overlooking the Pine Ridge Municipal Golf Course.

But after almost eight years, Joseph said the time has come to sell the restaurant, which he had foreseen as a short-term venture and something to cross off his bucket list.

It’s currently listed for sale for $995,000 for the business and building with Malone Commercial Brokers of Portland.

“Business has been great,” Joseph said. “Our goal from the beginning was to keep this for five years. That’s all either of us wanted to do, and then we would move on to different ventures. The next thing you know, it’s been almost seven years.”

The restaurant, which seats between 140 to 150 people, was put up for sale over the summer, but Joseph said he and his business partner intentionally tried to keep it quiet at first.

“After a few months, we decided let’s come out and tell people, so we decided to make it known,” Joseph said. “We sat down with our employees and told them what was happening and why we were doing it. We wanted to make sure they understood we’re not just going to sell to anyone. We want to sell to someone with the same morals and values E.J. and I have instilled in this place.”

For 30 years, Joseph and his wife, Diane, ran Joseph’s Market on Front Street, a small grocery store specializing in fine meats. The pair sold the market in 2015.

It was started by Joseph’s grandfather, John Joseph, who immigrated to Waterville from Lebanon in the early 1900s and started the store in 1925. John Joseph worked in the Wyandotte Worsted woolen mill at Head of Falls off Front Street while his son, John Jr., Kevin’s uncle, ran the store.

After John Joseph Jr. died at the age of 33, his father and brothers, Peter and Roy, Kevin’s father, took over the store. Kevin Joseph started working there when he was 14 or 15 years old.

Kevin Joseph stands in the dinning room of his restaurant Joseph’s Steakhouse on West River Road in Waterville on Friday. Jospeh and co-owner E.J. Fabian have put the restaurant up for sale for $995,000.00. Morning Sentinel photo by Michael G. Seamans

In 1985, when his uncle wanted to retire, he bought his share and ran the store with his father.

He said he and his wife haven’t had much vacation time together aside from the week they were married in 1985 and another week in 2000, when they went on a cruise.

They have two children, Katie and Kyle, and two young grandchildren that Joseph said he hopes to spend more time with after the restaurant is sold.

Joseph also plans to keep busy with a tractor business, K&K Tractor Services, that he started and named after his children, and with an apartment building he recently bought at 21 Elm St. and is in the process of renovating.

“It’s something to keep me busy and out of trouble,” he said.

On a recent rainy afternoon at Joseph’s Fireside, tables of customers were enjoying steaks and hamburgers from inside the cozy, cabin-like restaurant.

“We’ve been here several times, and we love the atmosphere,” said Cindy Woodard, of Oakland, who was at the restaurant to celebrate her son Josh’s 24th birthday. “The food is always excellent.”

Nearby, Bonny and Bryan Finnemore, of Waterville, said they enjoy coming to Joseph’s because it’s a locally owned small business and the food is good.

They said they’ll keep coming back to Joseph’s if the restaurant is sold “as long as it doesn’t change.”

“The family has been here a long time,” said Bryan Finnemore, 50. “They’re known in the community. So that part is sad. But hopefully whoever buys it will keep up the quality.”

That’s also a goal for Joseph, who said he hopes to sell to someone who will stay involved in the community.

The restaurant works with High Hopes Clubhouse, which connects adults with mental illness with opportunities to work in the community as part of rehabilitation, and keeping up a tradition of community service is important, Joseph said.

“I want to make sure (the next owner) is going to carry it on the same way,” he said. “I don’t want people turning it into something that belongs in New York City or Boston. We live in Waterville, Maine, which is different even than Portland. What works in Portland won’t work here. We’re trying to be respectful of the community and the people in it by carrying top quality meats and keeping the prices low.”

 

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368
[email protected] 
Twitter: @rachel_ohm

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