Duffy's makes long-term commitment to Old Orchard Beach

August 2, 2016 in News

Author: Laurie Schireiber
Publication: Mainebiz

OLD ORCHARD BEACH — Duffy's Tavern and Grill of Kennebunk paid $1.7 million for a site it had been leasing in Old Orchard Beach.

The deal gives Duffy's a second location and visibility on a road that is populated by numerous campgrounds and is also the road most visitors use as they exit Interstate 295 to go into Old Orchard Beach. Duffy's offers American comfort food and pub fare.

Located at 168 Saco Ave., the 5.2-acre property also includes a 1,904-square-foot, two-unit apartment building and a 2,552-square-foot, single-family home. The transaction, which closed July 20, was brokered by Mark Sandler of Cardente Real Estate, who represented the sellers, brothers Michael and Gregory Mezoian.

David "Duffy" Cluff, representing himself, paid $1.7 million for the property.

The Duffy's in Old Orchard Beach had operated under a lease arrangement since June 15, 2015. Cluff signed a purchase and sale agreement with the Mezoians in May 2015, then worked on nailing down a financing package.

"We did a lease with the owner so we could get it up and running while we were waiting for the financing package, working with our local bank and the Small Business Administration," Cluff said, speaking by phone.

He invested $200,000 in a complete modernization of the dining room, including adding a new bar.

"The restaurant was dated," he said. "It needed to be brought up-to-date with a little TLC."

Prior to Duffy's taking over a year ago, it was the Captain's Galley Restaurant.

The Old Orchard Beach site was attractive, he said, because of its high-traffic location and the fact that the second location — a restaurant and connected banquet center totaling 11,749 square feet — is larger than the original Duffy's and better suited to larger events. The function space in Duffy's Kennebunk seats 50; Duffy's in Old Orchard Beach seats up to 200.

"We're doing weddings, bridal showers, anniversary parties — and that's what I was looking for," he said.

He plans to rent out the two-unit apartment building and house.

Cluff came into the restaurant business as a second career. He was with the Kennebunk Fire Department for 25 years, retiring as assistant fire chief. He enjoys cooking, so in 2008, he and a partner, Shawn Spencer, started Duffy's in the Lafayette Center on Main Street in Kennebunk.

"Then I decided to open a second restaurant. And that's enough restaurants," he laughed.

In actuality, there's not much in the way of retirement in this second career. He cooks five or six nights per week, and both restaurants are year-round. Plus there's been the work of getting the second restaurant going.

"I often think back to my fire department days and think, 'Well, I thought I was busy then, but I'm really busy now,'" he said.

The OOB property was originally a motor lodge with cottages, said Sandler. The Mezoian brothers' grandfather bought in 1954, and the family built the cabins and motor lodge. The brothers started a small restaurant, the Captain's Galley, in 1987, and kept enlarging it. In 1995, they dismantled the cabins and filled in the pool.

Sandler, the broker, knew the Mezoian brothers from when he owned and operated a food distribution company, Biddeford-based Sandler Brothers. Three years ago, he got out of the business and went into commercial real estate. In January 2015, when the Mezoians decided to close the restaurant in order to focus on residential development, they turned to Sandler to market the property.




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