Crissy’s under new ownership

‘What if ... I didn't give it a try’
Posted:  Saturday, February 11, 2017 - 8:15am
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Story Location:
212 Main Street
Damariscotta  Maine  04543
United States

Crissy's Breakfast & Coffee Bar in Damariscotta has been serving coffee and coffee drink specialties, delectable pastries and breakfasts and lunches for the better part of seven years.

Founder Crissy de Onis bought the building that houses the business in 2002. Crissy's started serving breakfast and lunch in 2010. Since then, the restaurant has gone through a few changes in ownership: de Onis sold the building and the business to Colleen Kelly of Damariscotta in 2016, who reopened the restaurant in January, only to close it again in late July.       

In October, Heidi Smith bought the business and took over the lease of the space. Smith grew up in Rockland and has been in the restaurant business for 30 years.

After moving to western Maine, where she worked at Shawnee Peak and Charlie's on the Causeway, Smith came back to the coast, specifically Damariscotta, where she has waited on tables and/or tended bar at Backstreet Landing, Schooner Landing and Damariscotta River Grill. She also waited on tables at Crissy's for five years before taking over.

If you've ever been to Schooner Landing's Free Oyster Fridays, you'll remember Smith as the very busy bartender at the dockside bar. Though she’s spent a lot of time working in restaurants, Smith has never cooked for or managed one. But when the opportunity to own Crissy’s presented itself, she jumped in head first. “I had never really thought of having my own restaurant,” she said. “But ... I knew I would always think 'what if’ if I didn't give it a try.”

She said taking on the role of owner is a whole new experience. “There are times I feel useless. But I'm used to working hard, and continuously.”

And she’s glad she took over Crissy's during the slow season, giving her the time to learn all the tricks of the trade before people start flocking to the coast of Maine this coming summer.

“Luckily we have three great cooks and an amazing staff.”

Head cook Ian Mortimer, from Bremen, has worked the kitchens at two well-known Portland restaurants: Duck Phat and Hot Suppa. And cook Alec Olsen was in the kitchen when Smith took over.

All the breads and pastries, mouthwateringly displayed in glass cases, are made at another Damariscotta business, Barn Door Baking Co. They’re all made fresh, from scratch, daily, and they don't have time to get stale before making it into the restaurant – the bakery is located in the same building as Crissy’s.

Along with some typical breakfast items, Crissy’s menu includes dishes with a Mexican flair. Several Mexican choices are also offered for lunch.

If the top notch food isn't enough to draw you to Crissy's, just sitting at one of the artsy tables with a cup of cappuccino is a pleasure unto itself. The tables are decoupaged with interesting, colorful cutouts from magazines and newspapers. And the bathroom walls are entirely covered with old New Yorker covers.

A regular at Crissy's, Steve Ferguson of Round Pond, comes a couple times a week, usually for breakfast and occasionally for lunch. “We were all very concerned when they closed for a while,” he said. “Heidi is doing a wonderful job.”

Smith said it’s really her employees who make Crissy's a great place. And the food. And the customers. “The reopening of Crissy’s was made possible with the help of our customers, who come in and support us every week, the employees who we couldn’t do without, and Crissy de Onis, a great friend who has supported me through it all.”

The restaurant seats 64, with outside tables on the porch in the warmer months.

Crissy’s is open Wednesday to Sunday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. It is located at 212 Main Street. Call 207-563-6400 for reservations for parties of six or more.