The retail space at 256 State St. in Augusta, previously occupied by Frosty’s Donuts, will become Red Barn Chicken. It is scheduled to open March 1. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

AUGUSTA — The Red Barn Restaurant, a popular eatery at 455 Riverside Drive in Augusta that has been closed since the end of last year, is opening a takeout-only location on State Street.

In a Facebook post Friday morning, owner Laura Benedict announced the new location is scheduled to open March 1 as a chicken restaurant.

“When I shut in November the biggest concern I had was ensuring the Red Barn team would be able to survive on other part-time/seasonal jobs until we reopened,” Benedict wrote in her post. “In some cases those seasonal jobs did not employ them for as long as we had hoped.

“By the grace of God we got an Eidel (sic) loan and could entertain the idea of leasing a space on State Street. This has always been a restaurant and is pretty much turn-key. This is an opportunity to bring back some (of) our team members whose finances are drying up. Their getting enough money to live on is my primary concern.

“We will be opening on March 1st for takeout and JUST chicken and fries because of the lack of parking spaces,” the post continues. “This will help them get by until the Riverside Drive location opens in April. Hours and days will be announced when I know more about what to expect. Stay tuned! Love,Laura.

What Benedict refers to as an Eidel loan is an Economic Injury Disaster Loan, a program of the U.S. Small Business Administration, to provide a source of funding for small businesses and nonprofit organizations that have lost revenue because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The money can be used to meet financial obligations and pay operating expenses that could have been paid had a disaster not happened.

Benedict closed the Red Barn on Nov. 22 out of “an abundance of caution to keep our customer and our team safe,” with plans to reopen in 2021.

At that time, the number of COVID-19 infections in the state was on the rise, with hundreds of new cases reported every day. The numbers remained high from Thanksgiving through the new year, but have been dropping, allowing some public health restrictions to be eased.

This is not the first time the Red Barn has considered a second location. In October 2011, the Red Barn briefly opened a drive-thru restaurant in a 10-by-30-foot building on Bay Street in Winslow. At the time, the owners said the restaurant was there for the long haul, but by May 2016, the building had been demolished to make way for a new building to house a Dunkin’ and another retail business.

The building at 256 State St. has been the home of Frosty’s Donuts. Owners Nels and Shelby Omdal announced at the end of 2020 the business would go on winter break. Aside from its Augusta location, the company has stores in Bath and Brunswick.

Initially, the break was expected to run from Dec. 21 through Jan. 8, but the company posted Jan. 7 on Facebook that Frosty’s would be closed for part of winter due to the usual slowdown and COVID-19 concerns. The Omdals advised customers check back for updates on when the stores would reopen.

At the end of March 2020, Frosty’s permanently closed stores in Gardiner and Freeport in a move designed to preserve the long-term health of the company, which sells doughnuts through its retail stores and wholesale accounts.

Calls to the Red Barn and Frosty’s were not returned.

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