By Carol McCracken (Post # 2,103)
The co-owners of the Old Port House of Jerky had high expectations for their new business at 13 Exchange Street in Portland’s Old Port. The two had planned on opening the business on May 15th. But that date came and went with no opening happening. Things have not gone as they expected, much to their frustration. Matt DiBenedetto, 53, and Jeff Gagne, 46, both of New Hampshire, have been slowed down dramatically in their effort to recover their start-up costs of about $30,000. That figure includes inventory and renovations to a former coffee shop, Mornings in Paris, famously priced out of the location by its landlord. The two business partners have anticipated large profits in the Old Port based in part on the financial success of the North Conway House of Jerky that DiBenedetto owns near the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Until recently, Gagne was in the constuction business.
On April 23, 2014, DiBenedetto, a former chef, applied for a business license with the City of Portland. To date, that application has not been approved by the City according to the clerk’s office The Department of Agriculture, Augusta, needs to inspect the product because it is a pre-packaged food. That has not been done. According to a city official yesterday, the Fire Department needs to inspect the premises, but there are “fire safety issues” at the property. In a previous post on the subject, the co-owners told mhn.com that their landlord, Joe Soley, was not in compliance with a city fire code ordinance in the store and the apartments above the store. DiBenedetto told mhn.com that the city of Portland was considering shutting down the entire building (the whole block) in which Jerky store is located. However, a spokesperson for the Portland Fire Department emailed mhn.com that it is not considering shutting down a “whole block” on Exchange Street.
Despite the lack of an approved business license, the Old Port House of Jerky has been selling its jerky and $ 8.00 pickles since at least late last week. A city official for Portland said that the attorney for the “House” is currently in negotiations with a city attorney over the situation. John P. McVeigh, of PrettiFlaherty, the House’s attorney did not respond to a request from mhn.com for a comment on the situation.
An unconfirmed rumor is that the city is allowing the House of Jerky to remain open until the matter is resolved between all parties, including landlord Joe Soley. MHN.com is trying to confirm that rumor with the city of Portland, but it has not responded to several requests for information.
Please see previous post # 1,996 herein on the subject.