Barring ‘miracle,’ popular Rockland restaurant set to close this month

Published: Jun. 17, 2022 at 5:44 PM EDT
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ROCKLAND, Maine (WABI) - After nearly three decades, a culinary staple in Rockland will be closing its doors later this month.

That is, the owner says, unless a miracle happens.

“How can something this special, this incredible, this landmark, this influencer of food in Maine, how can this not work? There’s trouble,” said Kerry Alterio, owner and chef at Cafe Miranda.

Alterio co-founded Cafe Miranda 29 years ago. Earlier this week, a Facebook post announced the end of his run effective June 25th, saying the café can’t find enough employees to stay open more than three days a week.

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Posted by Cafe Miranda Rockland on Tuesday, June 14, 2022

“I pulled this off for 29 years, with tragedy, with fires, with addiction. You name it, it’s happened. And with all that cunning, all that skill, all that experience, and all of the support from the community, I can’t find two people to keep it open,” Alterio said.

The news isn’t sitting well for regulars, like Jacob Post of Owls Head, who are flocking in to get a last taste.

“Tears. It’s hard,” Post said about his reaction when he heard the news. “It’s been my favorite place for years and they’re just great people.”

Alterio says Cafe Miranda is on the market, but he’s also leaving the door open for a last-minute miracle.

He’s raised prices to increase pay for his staff, and is implementing an optional seating charge. He wants to hear from customers any other ideas they may have.

“There is going to be hell and hallelujah at the end of this season with my colleagues and other businesses that need labor to generate enough product to pay their bills,” Alterio said. “There’ll be buckets of keys on bankers’ desks in the fall. We have to come to this realization of – put your money where your mouth is.”

When he does hand over the keys, Alterio says he wants to stay involved - working with lawmakers and other organizations to find long-term solutions for an industry he cares so much about.

“Those of us that work in hospitality know there’s easier ways to make a living than this, way easier ways to make a living generally. But, there’s something you get which is more than a paycheck,” he said.

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