158 Pickett Street Cafe, photographed in 2014. Staff photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette

The owners of 158 Pickett Street Café in South Portland announced Tuesday that they have permanently closed the popular bagel shop, which celebrated its 20th anniversary this year.

The café, at 158 Benjamin W Pickett St., is owned by Josh Potocki and Katie Schier-Potocki, who also own The Bread + Butter Catering Co., also in South Portland.

“Much of this is a result of the combined effect that COVID-19 has had on our industry, the labor shortage, increased cost of goods, and our need to refocus our efforts on our other endeavors,” read a message posted to their website and social media.

Over the past two decades, the café just down the road from Southern Maine Community College had become as much of a fixture in its neighborhood as the marinas and lighthouses that dot the coastline there. The café, founded by Josh Potocki and Allison Reid (now of Scratch Bakery) was known for its bagels, breakfast sandwiches and cheesy home fries. In 2009, the New York Times singled out Potocki’s “simple but brilliant chili-garlic cream cheese and handmade bagels.”

In 2019, the cafe made Portland Press Herald restaurant critic Andrew Ross’ list of “The Best 75 Places to Eat and Drink in Greater Portland.”

Although it was primarily a spot to grab breakfast, the café collaborated with many local chefs over the years, often on themed dinners.

The café was proud of its “funky vibe” and called itself “the pirate ship,” staffed by the “pirates” in the kitchen.

Now, thanks to the coronavirus and all it has wrought, that ship is sailing.

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