It’s a new day for historic Yarmouth eatery

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YARMOUTH — New owners are hoping to build on the high quality of product and service that’s kept both locals and tourists alike coming back to Day’s Crabmeat & Lobster for nearly 80 years.

The sale of Day’s, located at 1269 Route 1, closed on June 15, when Sandy and Dennis Owens sold the business for $935,000 to Randall Curit and Jennifer Rief.

“It’s sad and happy at the same time, Sandy Owens said June 26. “We wish the best for the new owners. I hope all goes well and they keep up the tradition and reputation of Day’s.”

In a June 25 interview, the new owners said the business will continue to operate under the Day’s name.

“We want to do everything Day’s has been doing, but enhance it,” Curit said.

Part of the enhancement was extending the hours from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily in the lobster pound and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the takeout kitchen.

“(The extended hours) will help some commuters who get out of work at 5 p.m. and want to stop in for a lobster roll or some takeout,” she said.

Curit on Wednesday said it’s been a busy few weeks.

“People are so stoked about the new hours,” he said.

Formerly open from Memorial Day to the first week in October, Rief said she and Curit also plan to extend the season and are looking into staying open year-round.

While at the shop the other day, Rief said she met a customer who said they’ve been stopping at Day’s for the past 30 years on their commute to Boothbay.

“They love the lobster dinners,” Rief said. “The menu has been reasonably priced with good quality so it keeps people coming back.”

To pair with those lobster dinners, Day’s hopes to serve beer and wine. Rief said the town has granted Day’s a liquor license and they’re now waiting on state approval.

Rief said they also plan to upgrade the establishment in part by improving the workflow and energy efficiency.

Curit, who lives in Gray, will operate Day’s, while Rief, a New Hampshire native, will help run the business from behind the scenes. For 12 years, she’s worked for Craig’s All Natural, a Durham, New Hampshire-based seafood wholesaler, and hopes to use her expertise to expand Day’s brand recognition and its products into wholesale. Curit added that they hope to build a website to allow customers to order online.

The duo met through the seafood retail and wholesale business years ago.

“She’s going to be an amazing partner to work with,” Curit said of Rief.

When a mutual friend of theirs saw the property for sale and alerted them to the business opportunity, Curit and Rief knew they had to snatch the listing up.

“It’s a great location. It’s one of the oldest well-established businesses for crabmeat and lobster,” Rief said.

Day’s has been on and off the market for the past decade or so. Gilbert “Specs” Eaton, of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Northeast Real Estate in Freeport, took on the listing a year ago.

“I’ve been here for 42 seasons and my husband for about 30,” Sandy Owens said. “It was just time for a change. Life’s too short.”

Eaton said other buyers had expressed interest in the property, but at the time of the sale, Curit and Rief had no competition.

“(Interest had) cooled off a bit,” Eaton said. A combination of factors, he added, including the $950,000 asking price, contributed to the difficulty of the sale.

“It took the right person to come around … It was a matter of finding the right person to take the shot,” Eaton said.

When it began in the mid-1920s, Day’s served sold crabmeat and crab rolls to customers from its original location in Freeport’s Porter’s Landing. The business moved to Cousins Marsh when owners John and Charles Hilton sold it to Robert Neil Day Sr. in 1943.

After nine years, Day sold the market to his son, Robert Day Jr., who operated it for 35 summers. Owens began working at Day’s when she was 16, then took it over in 1988.

She and Dennis will continue to live in the home on the property, which was included in the purchase, until they find another home in Maine, Owens said.

“We haven’t figured out what we’ll do with (the home) yet,” Rief said. “There are so many possibilities.”

The Owenses plan to take the summer off to enjoy their home state before deciding what the next step will be career-wise.

“I haven’t had a summer off since I was 16,” Owens said. “We really want to enjoy Maine in the summer.”

For now, Rief said her and Curit’s priority is the business – having “hit the ground running” at the beginning of peak season – and making a smooth ownership transition for their 15 part-time employees.

“The employees that decided to stay on have been incredibly supportive and helpful,” Rief said. “We’re very excited to continue working with them.”

Owens said she’ll miss the business, and the people involved, but feels optimistic about her future and the future of Day’s.

“We’ll miss our employees and the customers we’ve had for generations. They’re like family,” Owens said. “(But) we’re ready for the next adventure.”

Jocelyn Van Saun can be reached at 781-3661, ext. 183 or jvansaun@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter @JocelynVanSaun.

After nearly a decade of going on and off the market, the sale of Day’s Crabmeat & Lobster, at 1296 Route 1, closed on June 15.

Co-owner Randall Curit stands in the market early Wednesday morning waiting for business, which he says has been booming since he and his business partner bought Day’s two weeks ago.

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