Yarmouth wine room owners hope to seize the night

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YARMOUTH — A pair of self-proclaimed “carpe divas” have opened Carpe Diem, a wine room and flight bar, at the former location of The Royal Bean.

Barb Brown and Robyn Barnes bought the 18 Yarmouth Crossing Drive building last fall after years of knowing they wanted to own and run their own business. After The Royal Bean closed, Brown and Barnes decided it would be the perfect place to start their venture.

“It’s in walking distance for almost anyone in Yarmouth,” Barnes said. “And it’s surrounded by all these other towns.”

Barnes, of North Yarmouth, and Brown, of Freeport, have been friends for 12 years. They got the idea to open their own flight bar after going to one in Virginia last June.

“The two of us have wanted to do something together for a long time,” Barnes said.

Flights of drinks, which are three smaller glasses of different wines, provide “the opportunity for a variety for a price that’s reasonable,” Barnes said. Carpe Diem also serves wine by the glass and bottle, and beer by the bottle or on tap, or as flights.

The former coffee shop has been transformed with new paint, decor, and furniture. The room, which seats 70, is beige and tan with accents of deep red, creating a calm, serene atmosphere.

“We were going for simple elegance, but unpretentiousness,” Barnes said. “We wanted it to be a place where you could go to exhale.”

Barnes and Brown said they’re hoping people will come to Carpe Diem to relax and unwind after a long day. They said people can stay for hours if they want, and they will never rush their patrons. Carpe Diem opens at 4:30 p.m. each day and closes anytime between 9 and 11 p.m.; Barnes and Brown said the hours have yet to be finalized.

While Carpe Diem doesn’t serve meals, there is food on the menu. To compliment the wine, there are cheese plates, meat plates, and olives, nuts, and dips.

“We don’t cook; there’s no cooking,” Barnes said. “It’s all picking.”

Barnes said Carpe Diem is “somewhere you can sit and not necessarily dine, but just enjoy what you’re eating.”

Barnes and Brown said while creating the menu, they chose items that were upscale and hard to find.

“We’ve tried to create a menu that’s simple, but has things that aren’t always available in other restaurants,” Brown said.

Despite this, Barnes and Brown said they don’t feel like they’re competing against other restaurants in town. They said Carpe Diem is a place to go before or after going out to eat.

“We’re not really competing with anyone,” Brown said. “We’re complimenting them.”

Carpe Diem’s grand opening on Dec. 31 attracted almost 125 people, Barnes and Brown said, and business has been steady.

“So far everyone that’s come in has been pleased,” Brown said. “People say this is exactly what Yarmouth needs.”

Barnes and Brown said they hope their flight bar will also draw people who usually go to Portland for a night out. They said Carpe Diem has the atmosphere people crave in a night out in Portland, without the hassle of navigating the city and looking for parking.

“We’re just trying to give Yarmouth what it wants,” Barnes said.

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-361 ext. 125 or kgardner@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

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Carpe Diem owners Barb Brown, left, and Robyn Barnes said they hope their wine room and flight bar will draw people not only from Yarmouth, but from throughout greater Portland.

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I'm a reporter for The Forecaster covering Freeport, Yarmouth, Chebeague Island, and Cape Elizabeth. I'm from a small town in NH no one's ever heard of. When not reporting, I can be found eating pasta and reading books, often at the same time.