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The Cap'n is coming back to South Portland: Newick's gets OK for mall-area restaurant

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The Cap'n is coming back to South Portland: Newick's gets OK for mall-area restaurant

SOUTH PORTLAND — More than two years after closing its doors – to the dismay of many longtime, loyal customers – Cap'n Newick's restaurant is planning a return to the city.

The family-style seafood restaurant received a license from the city this week to open in the Maine Mall area, at 200 Gorham Road, where TGI Friday's was previously located. The new restaurant will be called Newick's South Portland Lobster House.

For 31 years, Newick's served up fried clams, scallops, chowder and other seafood at a barn-like building on Broadway, near the city's Central Fire Station. It was a favorite stop for tour buses, tourists and area residents with an appetite for steamers, lobster and colorful atmosphere. Many of its employees had worked there from when the restaurant opened in 1976.

Lobster traps, buoys, fishing nets and other ocean-related paraphernalia covered the walls inside and outside the restaurant. There was also a gift shop and seafood market where visitors could pick up anything from a Maine lobster magnet and maple syrup to a live lobster.

When it closed in May 2007, the restaurant's owners issued a statement from their Dover, N.H., headquarters explaining that the South Portland location had not been profitable for a while and that the company, Newick's Hospitality Group, was restructuring to survive. The Broadway restaurant was bulldozed to make way for a shopping plaza.

There are now two Newick's restaurants, in Dover and Concord, N.H.

At a City Council meeting Wednesday, city officials expressed delight that the seafood restaurant is returning. City Manager Jim Gailey said there has been a "hole in our community" since Newick's left.

"(Newick's) is one of my mother's favorite places," Councilor Tom Blake said. "You will be seeing both of us."

A sketch of the new restaurant submitted to the city shows seating for 265 people, with a combination of tables, booths and a 20-stool bar. There is no gift shop indicated.

No one could be reached Thursday in Dover to discuss Newick's' plans. A message on the company Web site says that it is "coming soon back to S. Portland, Maine."

The Web site, newicks.com, also says the company is accepting employment applications for the South Portland restaurant.

According to the Planning Department, Newick's applied for an occupancy permit Thursday morning and has an appointment Jan. 27 for that inspection. An opening is planned soon after the permit is received.

Newick's is a family-run business that began in New Hampshire in 1948. The new South Portland restaurant will be a short distance from Weathervane, part of a another family-run seafood restaurant chain based in Kittery.

Randy Billings contributed to this report. Kate Bucklin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or kbucklin@theforecaster.net.