Devon Gogan staffs the coffee bar at Holbrook’s General Store on Feb. 13. (J.W. Oliver photo)
The new owner of Holbrook’s General Store reopened the Cundy’s Harbor institution on Feb. 6.
The store offers coffee, fresh pastries and treats, and a variety of ready-to-eat meals. Devon Gogan, of Cundy’s Harbor, wants her homemade food to feel like “Grandma’s cooking,” she said.
Prices range from $7.99 to $9.99 for wraps and $10.99 to $20.99 for entrees. Soups start at $4.99. Portions are generous.
Gogan, a veteran chef and restaurant manager, will also take over the seasonal eatery next door, Holbrook’s Lobster Wharf and Grille.
She plans to open the restaurant on Mother’s Day weekend, when she will offer buy-one-get-one lobster rolls for anyone who brings their mother — or any mother. Customers can expect more holiday specials to come. “I’m big about holidays,” she said.
She wants to host events at the restaurant in the summer, like live music, artisan shows, and fundraisers for Harpswell Community School and the Holbrook Community Foundation.
Once the restaurant opens, she will offer fewer takeout options at the store. But the store will remain a popular stop for ice cream. The store also continues to stock drinks, snacks, and a few grocery essentials.
In addition to the restaurant and store, Gogan offers a large menu of homemade meals by special order. Customers must place orders three days in advance. She caters small events and may expand catering services in the future. She has even thought about a food truck.
The store’s first week was a success.
“I had a lot of new people come in, people I hadn’t met yet, saying, ‘We’re so excited!’ and ‘This is great!” and they were buying, so I’m pretty excited and I feel like it’s going really well,” Gogan said.
For now, the store is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday, with delivery available from 4-6 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday. The store and restaurant will both be open seven days a week during the summer.
Gogan grew up in Rumford, in Western Maine. Her family spent summers with relatives in Cundy’s Harbor. She stayed in Cundy’s Harbor for her freshman year in high school.
In addition to classes at Mt. Ararat, she attended the culinary program at Brunswick’s Region 10 Technical High School. The program operated a restaurant one day a week. “That’s when I really fell in love with cooking,” she said.
She moved on to restaurants outside school, where she was a natural in the kitchen. “I worked my way up,” she said, from dishwasher to prep cook to line cook to sous chef to executive chef.
As an adult, she traveled and lived back in Western Maine, always honing her culinary skills. She took jobs where she knew she could learn. When she had learned all she could, she looked for her next challenge.
She gravitated toward “mom-and-pop” restaurants that made homestyle food. “I don’t want to cook out of a box and a bag,” she said.
One of her favorite jobs was as kitchen manager for the Conway Scenic Railroad in New Hampshire, cooking for the dining cars.
“Food brings people together and makes people happy,” she said of why she enjoys working in restaurants. When people love her food, it makes her feel good.
During summers in Western Maine, Gogan would load up her kids and make the hour-and-a-half drive to Cundy’s Harbor multiple times a week.
“I wanted my kids to have the same kind of experience I did growing up,” she said.
On one of those trips, she noticed for-sale signs and started to think about the area as more than a daytrip destination.
“I just loved it so much that I figured it was a good spot to land,” she said.
She bought a home about three years ago. While starting a business providing end-of-life care, she worked for a time at Holbrook’s restaurant and store under then-owner Alison Hawkes.
When Hawkes ended her three-season run at the restaurant and closed the store, the Holbrook Community Foundation approached Gogan about taking over. The foundation owns the historic property and rents space to several businesses.
Gogan said yes.
“I like adventure,” she said, “and I thought, maybe instead of making everybody else all the money, it was time for me to have my own restaurant.”
“I love it already,” she said during an interview at the store on Feb. 13, a week after opening day.
For more information, find Holbrook’s Wharf & Store on Facebook.