Japanese restaurant to open in former Ellsworth Denny’s

A new hibachi-style Japanese restaurant is expected to open in a former Denny’s in Ellsworth that closed two years ago .

A sign outside the shuttered High Street eatery reads: “Coming soon Crazy Sumo Japanese Hibachi Steakhouse.”

No one was inside the former Denny’s on Tuesday afternoon, though some furnishings inside had been moved — a possible sign that the space is being readied for renovation. The building has been shuttered since Denny’s closed down in May of 2020, in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dining furniture in a closed Denny’s restaurant in Ellsworth, Maine is visible through a window on April 12, 2022. The restaurant closed in May 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic was just beginning. However, a new Japanese restaurant will soon open in the space. Credit: Bill Trotter / BDN

The new restaurant is the latest sign of recovery for pandemic-related closings on the city’s main commercial strip. Convenient MD, which was being constructed on High Street when the COVID-19 pandemic struck Maine in the spring of 2020, remained closed and will not reopen until January 2021. Other commercial spaces along High Street remain closed and are not showing signs of life.

Lori Roberts was the code enforcement officer for the City. She said that the new restaurateurs arrived at City Hall Tuesday morning in order to pick up a building permits application to renovate the interior of the building. However, she had not received any information. She said that she didn’t have contact information for restaurant owners.

Rob McKenny, a local real estate agent, said he represented the new restaurant owners in helping to arrange a lease with the property owner, which is listed in the city’s property tax records as 75 High Street LLC of Galena, Maryland.

McKenney didn’t provide any further information about the new owners.

The building opened as a Denny’s restaurant in 1998, when it was built. It was one of two Denny’s restaurants in Maine that shut down around the same time in 2020. It still operates four restaurants in Maine.

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