Smuggler’s Cove gets new lease on life

Posted:  Thursday, July 13, 2017 - 8:15am

Smuggler’s Cove Inn and the 1820 House Restaurant in East Boothbay has been given something of a rebirth. Formerly called Sunset Beach, its new owners Marge and Alan Firpo have brought back the original name.

The couple, from Royal Palm Beach and Daytona, Florida, bought the property and business last November.

The Firpos aren’t new to the restaurant business. They owned a restaurant and bar years ago in Florida, before moving on to new careers. Marge became a registered nurse, and Alan became a school teacher-administrator, and later opened an insurance business.

Two years ago, they sold their house in Royal Palm Beach and came to Maine to visit their friend Tom Philbrick, who had recently bought the Boothbay Lobster Wharf. While they were here, their Daytona house sold, too.

Marge suggested they buy a place in Maine. “I said, we’re here all the time, why don’t we just get a place.” They bought a large cabin near Rangeley, and helped Philbrick out at the lobster wharf last summer.

He told them he knew of an inn-restaurant up for sale on Linekin Bay. “We looked at it, and started negotiations with the owner,” Marge said.

The couple, along with their daughter, Alison, and her boyfriend, Billy Monteiro, spent the winter in the 1820 House while they cleaned, scraped, painted and updated the five buildings on the property. “We invested in a golf cart,” Marge said. “It’s a three-acre property, and I was constantly running back and forth looking for nails and hammers.”

In May, the Firpos opened the doors to their 52 newly restored rooms. One of the buildings, the Pier Building, with rooms overlooking the bay, is the most coveted. “It’s mostly over the water at high tide,” Marge said. “If you go out on the balcony it feels like you’re on a cruise ship.”

The restaurant has a new chef. Daniel Lynch, from New Jersey, has been cooking for over 30 years, and has brought a new menu to the business. He comes with a wealth of knowledge and fresh ideas after running several kitchens in restaurants in the Caribbean, and in Provincetown and Atlantic City.

Lynch was on the verge of retiring and just doing some consulting, when Marge found him on a job search site called “I was minding my own business, as usual, and they found me,” Lynch joked. “We Skyped a few times and talked about how we could improve the business together.”

The new menu at the 1820 House features several diverse, lovingly prepared and attractively presented dinner choices, including many gluten-free foods. A breakfast buffet is served daily. It’s not your typical buffet, according to some of the new reviews on “The free breakfast is not your ordinary fare, more like a B&B but with choices! Chef Lynch is a gem with a personality as wonderful as his cooking.”

Marge said she and her husband consider themselves lucky to have found Lynch “at the right time.”

The dining room walls are mostly huge floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook a shimmering pool and Linekin Bay, with a front seat view of sunsets.

Along with the newly updated rooms and restaurant, there’s a beach, with kayaks, canoes and small sailboats available for guests to use, free of charge. Sailing instructor and guide Dan Fayen is usually there to offer lessons and assistance with the boats.

Business at the resort had been declining in recent years. It closed abruptly last August. Now the new owners are seeing a lot of the past guests return. “We have had a lot of them who loved this place return, and it’s been really nice seeing them,” Marge said. “People are thrilled that it’s coming back. Some people who have stayed this summer have said they’ll come back in the fall.”

One couple who stayed at the inn recently posted this on “Stayed here this past weekend & loved the quiet casual atmosphere. ...We enjoyed a lovely dinner at the onsite restaurant, the chef provided a simple & elegant menu that went way beyond expectations.”

The inn and restaurant are located at 727 Ocean Point Road. The restaurant opens at 5:30 p.m. for dinner Wednesday through Sunday, and breakfast is available every day. Call 207-633-2800.

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