A white fence has been erected in front of the space formerly occupied by buildings that housed The Last Unicorn restaurant in downtown Waterville. A fire destroyed the buildings April 23. Plans are underway to rebuild, with construction to include a commercial kitchen for a restaurant to be housed there. Silver Street Tavern is at left. Amy Calder/Morning Sentinel

WATERVILLE —  The owner of two buildings in downtown Waterville that housed The Last Unicorn restaurant and were destroyed last month by fire intends to rebuild, perhaps as soon as this fall.

“We retained an architect who is designing a steel and concrete building with a brick facade,” said Bruce Fowler, who manages properties for owner Sidney Geller. “I hope that by mid-June, we’ll have a set of plans that everyone will agree with, and if that’s the case, we’ll commence with the foundation. Being that it’s construction season, my guess is that construction wouldn’t start until the fall. The plan is to get it up as soon as possible.”

Fowler said the intention is to build a two-story structure on the footprint of 6 and 8 Silver St., with a one-story extension at the back of the building that would house a restaurant kitchen.

“Our goal is to put up a larger building,” Fowler said Thursday.

The fire April 23 began by spontaneous combustion in a basket containing greasy rags in a hallway at the restaurant, according to fire officials.

The Last Unicorn consisted of two buildings that years ago were separated by an alley and then joined together to expand the restaurant. The building at 8 Silver St. was about a foot away from the building that houses the Cancun Mexican Restaurant banquet room. The east side of the building, at 6 Silver, was about 3 feet from the Silver Street Tavern building in some places. Those adjacent restaurants did not sustain significant damage in the fire.


A call Thursday to The Last Unicorn owner, John Picurro, was not returned. Picurro said the day after the fire that if all went well with his insurer, he hoped to work with Geller to reopen the restaurant after the new building is completed.

Fowler said Picurro still has renewal options with his current lease, and if he wants to reopen the restaurant, he and Geller will work with him. Picurro was arrested last week on a misdemeanor charge of terrorizing. Police said he called in a threat to a Waterville hospital. Despite the arrest, Fowler said he and Geller will maintain a working relationship with him.

“It’s totally his decision and we’ll support whatever he wants to do,” Fowler said. “If John decides he doesn’t want to renew his lease, then we will open it up to the public. That football is firmly in John’s grip.”

Workers clear debris April 24 after a fire a day earlier destroyed two buildings on Silver Street in downtown Waterville that housed The Last Unicorn restaurant. Plans are underway to rebuild at the site. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel file

Geller and Fowler worked quickly to have the fire debris removed by Casella Waste Systems and the site graded. Fowler erected a 6-foot-tall white privacy fence with flower boxes along the sidewalk to obscure the empty lot and help beautify the area.

“The only thing left is there’s one portion of the east wall that is still remaining that has to be torn down by hand,” he said.

Fowler said once the weather improves, the brick wall of 6 Silver St. will be removed with hammer and chisel so as not to damage Silver Street Tavern next door.


“The rest of the building was freestanding and they were able to take it down with an excavator,” he said.

Fowler said he and Geller worked quickly to clean up the area and plan for rebuilding so that the site would not be an eyesore.

“Downtown Waterville has struggled for years to have a positive image and in order to be a good downtown citizen, you really need to have a positive image displayed on your property, so we’re not going to sit on our laurels,” Fowler said.

Mayor Jay Coelho said Thursday he and others had raised money to give each of The Last Unicorn’s 12 employees $1,000. One displaced employee was particularly grateful for the help, according to Coelho.

“He was thankful because he has four kids and he didn’t know what he was going to do,” he said.

The day after the fire, Chief Shawn Esler of the Waterville Fire-Rescue Department said three firefighters who suffered minor injuries during the blaze were doing well and expected to return to full duty the following week.

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