Coulombe reveals plans for Oceanside

‘A rising tide lifts all boats, and I think it will help everybody in town’
Posted:  Thursday, April 6, 2017 - 9:15am
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There's been a lot of speculation around Boothbay Harbor over the winter about what will become of the former Rocktide Inn & Restaurant. In January, the almost 50-year-old resort at 35-37 Atlantic Avenue was purchased by Boothbay Harbor Country Club owner Paul Coulombe for $3.75 million.

In a late March telephone interview, Coulombe, who has spent the better part of the winter in Florida, said he was looking forward to getting back to the harbor and moving ahead with his newest venture, now called The Boothbay Harbor Oceanside Golf Resort. The resort will also feature his new restaurant, Coastal Prime.

In work overseen by Knickerbocker Property Management Group, the entire inside of the restaurant, and the 90 rooms that made up the inn, have been torn out. “We’ve gutted everything down to the timbers, everywhere,” Coulombe said. Everything in the rooms, right down to the walls, will be new. All of the furniture, beds and bedding in the rooms was given away to anyone who wanted it, at a redistribution event on Feb. 18.

Coastal Prime, which will be open to the public, will feature a daily menu focusing primarily on locally sourced fresh seafood, along with the regular menu, according to Coulombe. “The daily menu will show you exactly what fresh fish came in on that particular day, be it haddock, halibut or swordfish, or other seafoods. We're going to serve as many types of different seafood as we're able to obtain on a fresh daily basis prepared in a lot of different ways – grilled, blackened, sauteed etc.”

Prime beef steaks and Caesar salads, made fresh at the table, like the ones served at Paul's Steakhouse, one of the two restaurants at the country club, will be offered, too. “The steaks are our claim to fame,” Coulombe said. “And the staff has been trained to make the best Caesar salad you’ve ever had.”

The new restaurant will also serve Italian food, and fresh sushi and sashimi. And Chef George Schimert will be incorporating the sous vide method of cooking at both locations.

The dining deck in front of the new restaurant has been expanded, by eliminating a section of the indoor dining room. Several new pilings have been put in place for safety reasons, and the pressure-treated deck boards have been replaced with new cedar ones. The deck will seat 100, and will feature two large fire pits and 15 vertical heaters. “As we all know we can have some cool days and nights in Maine during the summer,” Coulombe said. “The heaters will extend the season, and tourists and locals alike like to sit outside and enjoy the view. That's what Maine’s all about.”

In total, there will room for 250 diners, inside and out, including the new bar area, which will feature glass Nana walls along the front, like the ones at the country club, that completely disappear when opened onto the deck. “You'll feel like you're outdoors, even when you're inside the bar area,” Coulombe said.

Plans are in the works for new docks at Oceanside, as Coulombe calls his resort. “The most important thing about the addition of new dockage will be to service local people who just want a place to tie up for a couple hours,” he said. “There aren't a lot of places in the harbor that can accommodate that. I'm not going to be taking any seasonal slip rentals so the new dockage will available for locals and summer people who just want to bring their boat into the harbor and get lunch or dinner.”

Coulombe said there will be no dress code for two-thirds of diners – on the deck and in the bar area – but there will be one in the inside dining room, albeit a minimal one. “We just want to say no jeans and T-shirts, but certainly not a coat and tie, unless you want to. Rocktide was really the old Grand Dame of the ’60s and ’70s, and it was quite a place at that time. Men had to wear a coat and tie in the formal dining room.”

Guests at Oceanside will have access to the golf resort, with a 15-seat Mercedes van transporting guests back and forth every 30 minutes.

Plans are also underway for the Boothbay Harbor Country Club. The Phase 2 plans include a fitness pavilion with an 1,800-square-foot fitness room, two tennis courts with viewing areas, two pickleball courts, a heated salt water pool, and a 12-person hot tub.

A new spa offering massage, facials, pedicures, manicures and hairstyling services is also in the works. The anticipated completion date is May 2018.

In November 2016, Coulombe spearheaded a vote to build a new roundabout in Boothbay Center, on Route 27. “I know the Route 27 improvements were controversial, but that is an integral part of having safe, continuous traffic and pedestrian flow,” he said. “It’s going to be critical in the entire development of the region. If you choke off the road system, then you're choking off the peninsula.”

Coulombe is spending between $4 and $5 million in renovations for the resort. He said his main drive for creating the resort is to bring new economic activity to the region. “I’m not building this for myself. It's really about helping the town. We're hoping to create additional business for everybody in the town. A rising tide lifts all boats, and I think it will help everybody in town, whether you're a restaurateur, a retailer or a hotel.”

There will be a kickoff opening party for members of the Boothbay Harbor Country Club on May 26, and a grand opening party at Oceanside that will be open to the public on May 27. “We’re hoping all the construction will be done by then,” Coulombe said with a laugh. “We’ve bitten off a big chunk, but everybody’s telling me we’ll be ready.

“We’re trying to make a few more people take that right hand turn from Route One onto 27. The next couple years are going to be exciting times for the Boothbay region.”