Escaping Cumberland County’s Shutdown to Lincoln County’s Openness

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Diners Were Eating Outside at the Famous Red’s Eats on Route 1 in Wiscasset.

Ashley Mason, (L) with Liz Boynton (R) General Manager at Shaw’s Fish & Lobster Wharf Restaurant Today.  (Mason is a Part-time Nurse in an ICU Unit – Not Related to COVID-19 – at Maine Medical Center, Portland.  She Hopes to Move to Munjoy Hill Soon.)

A Hearty Feast of Steamed Clams at Shaw’s Fish & Lobster  Wharf Restaurant, New Harbor,  Was Worth the Drive From Portland.  Winds Were Strong so Indoor Seating was Definitely Preferable Today.

Maine Coast Book Shop, Main Street, Damariscotta Re-Opened Recently.

Normally, a trip to the Damariscotta region on a beautiful Saturday holiday weekend in the spring would have been out of the question – an admission of insanity because of  the dreaded approach to Wiscasset and its traffic snarls –  always the motivation to avoid the area on spring weekends.  But the expected decline in traffic because of the pandemic shutdown and the beautiful weather lured me to risk that drive to possible insanity.

Getting through Wiscasset was a breeze as it turned out.  A few cars were on the road, but no delays or even slower traffic due to heavy traffic were experienced by mhn.com.   Phew.

For as many years as I can remember, there have been discussions on how to minimize the heavy traffic delays on the main street of Wiscasset.  Currently, there are two stop lights on the main street – a compromise between those who wanted a more extreme measure of a by-pass around the main street? The conflicts became too difficult to follow for this Portland blogger.

The first stop on my road to openness was at Reny’s store on Maine Street in Damariscotta.  However, the store was allowed to let only five people in at a time.  Mhn.com was told that Reny’s in Portland will be opening on Monday in Portland so that’s an achievable wait.

The next stop was an inside visit to a real book store,  Maine Coast Book Shop.  It opened earlier this week, with a limited number allowed admission at a time.  One employee said that the store is seeing customers from all over – that includes out-of-staters as well.  Whether or not they are quarantining themselves, she could not say.  This popular book store is owned by Jeff Curtis, who also owns Sherman’s Books, Exchange Street in the Portland Old Port.  That store has not decided when it will reopen. That’s where I picked-up a copy of the new book, “My Vanishing Country a Memoir,” by Bakari Sellers.  Sellers is a political consultant for CNN cable news.

The last and ultimate goal to experience openness in Lincoln County was the favorite Shaw’s Fish & Lobster Wharf Restaurant,  New Harbor.  For many years, a gathering place for this blogger’s family on special occasions and just no occasion, it was a special place – full of nostalgia for years past.

Normally, this popular out-door in-door lobster pound opens on Mother’s Day; a place that in many years past, this blogger’s family would celebrate the occasion.  But this year because of the pandemic. it was not allowed to open normally.

Rather, Shaw’s did not open until yesterday Friday, May 23 according to Liz Boynton, general manager.  According to Governor Mills’ revised Order, businesses in 12 Maine counties were permitted to open on Monday, May 18 because of a lack of “community transmission” in those less sparsely populated counties.

Special precautions were taken in order to comply with the Governor’s Order and make dining there safe according to Boynton.  Some tables were removed from the dining areas to accommodate a smaller number of diners than possible and to respect social distancing, hand sanitizing stations are prevalent  and lots of plexi-glass has been installed for safety reasons. Boynton, 38, began working at Shaw’s as a teenager and worked her way up to become the general manager she said.  During the winter months, she relocates to Ft. Myers,  Florida where she has a similar post.

Over the years, Shaw’s has not changed much because patrons value it’s authentic  character.  But the menu has been greatly expanded in recent years and there is now outdoor entertainment too.  There is also a bar. Bands serve as frequent entertainment on the wharf overlooking the Bay.  Shaw’s is a wonderful get-a-way from the pandemic shutdown in a “traditional Maine Fishing Village” that is safe.  www.shaws-wharf.com  677-2200 for more information.

For more background information on the restaurant and retail openings for 12 counties, please see post herein dated May 8, 2019.