HALLOWELL — Bolley’s Famous Franks, a local institution for nearly 50 years, will reopen, but not until August.

Owner Kim Pooler told the Kennebec Journal that the decision to remain closed, even though restaurants around them opened as soon as they could, was spurred by concerns for customer health and financial security of the business.

On May 17, the Kennebec Journal reported that restaurants were scrambling to open the following day after restrictions from Gov. Janet Mills loosened to allow dine-in service — still with restrictions — in select counties. Many local restaurants jumped at the chance to recover some revenue, but some told the Kennebec Journal later that month that patronage varied.

While the rush to open has slowed, Bolley’s Famous Franks has remained closed. The original Bolley’s Famous Franks opened on Bangor Street in Augusta, but then moved to Water Street in Hallowell in 1972.

Because the Poolers own their business, Pooler said, there’s no need to press reopening to cover expenses. She said a worry would be a decrease in business, especially without a rush of lunch customers from the nearby State House, and not being able to cover labor and food purchasing expenses.

“As long as we’re not losing money, we’re OK,” she said. “If we open those doors and Bolley’s  goes into debt, that’s going to be a disaster.”

Bolley’s Famous Franks owners Kimberly and Donald Pooler at their Hallowell restaurant on Saturday. The couple said that they found the 1974 sign behind them, with prices such as 15¢ for a donut, when cleaning out a storage area in the Water Street building. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

“Lobster is cheaper than hamburger right now, hot dogs are expensive,” she said. “If we don’t second wave (of coronavirus), (prices) will kind of go back to normal.”

Further, Pooler said a large proportion of the business’ regulars are elderly, making the need for social distancing higher. But, the dine-in portion of the restaurant is so small only a few tables would be available.

“The dining room is very small so it’s hard to social distance inside,” she said. “We could (offer) takeout and outside eating.”

Pooler said most customers she sees while running errands locally are understanding of the decision to remain closed.

Bolley’s Famous Franks, as seen Friday on Water Street in Hallowell. The restaurant has held off on reopening after the state loosened coronavirus pandemic rules. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

“All of our customers are saying ‘I don’t blame you,'” she said. “Obviously, we have people that say they miss the hot dogs and the doughnuts but most of them are supportive of the decision we’ve made.

Just over the Hallowell-Augusta city line, Frosty’s Donuts, at 256 State St., remains closed. A sign on the door reads: “We are so sorry but to ensure the safety of our staff ALL Frosty’s locations are closed till it is safe to reopen.”

A phone call to Frosty’s Donuts management was not returned by Saturday afternoon.

In April, Frosty’s locations in Gardiner and Freeport closed permanently. Owners Nels and Shelby Omdal said at the time that closing the shops early would be preferable to taking on business expenses with the shops being closed.

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