CUMBERLAND — Jeff Dalbec has gone from pouring beer to pumping gas.
The longtime Cumberland resident took over Revolutionary Gas & Tire at 296 Main St. Sept. 1, a year after Cam Riddle re-opened the station and community hangout.
Riddle opened the former Shell Service Station – built in 1972 and owned by the C.N. Brown Co. – after attending automotive engineering school in Minnesota, and training in Texas. The business had been closed more than a year, since the retirement of longtime operator Wayne Thompson of North Yarmouth.
Riddle, a 2013 Falmouth High School graduate, fulfilled his dream of opening a 1950s-era gas station, which along with tire sales also catered to high-performance vehicles and classic cars.
Business has been great, and the community just as welcoming, Riddle said Aug. 30. But he is heading back to Texas to focus more on the high-performance work.
“I’ve been doing a lot of classic cars up here, but Texas is one of the capitals for racing,” Riddle explained. “So it’s just more of … where I want to be.”
Riddle called owning a business “a complicated deal,” adding that “I don’t think there’s a school or anything that could have taught me more about business and people in a year than what I just did here. So there’s definitely no regret on this at all.”
Asked if he had any advice for his successor, Riddle looked at Dalbec and said, “he’s got it down. You become friends with everybody in town, and that’s the key. Everybody in town knows him.”
Dalbec leaves behind 25 years as a bartender at the Brian Boru Public House in Portland. His father Bill will occasionally lend a hand, along with his brother John, who is a Cumberland police officer.
“I’m ready to move on for something different; I live right down the street,” Dalbec said. Glancing out the window to the parking lot, he added, “that’s my Cadillac over there. Cam fixed my Cadillac, and he said he was leaving, and I’m like, maybe that might be a good thing for me to get into.”
Dalbec admitted he doesn’t have Riddle’s mechanic skills, but is relying on his customer service experience to make the business a success. He plans to rent the automotive bays to a mechanic, and expects to provide service for all vehicles.
“I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “It’s a new beginning.”
Jeff Dalbec, left, took over Revolutionary Tire & Gas on Main Street in Cumberland Sept. 1 from Cam Riddle.