Brookside Inn opens Houlton takeout

3 years ago

HOULTON, Maine — “Home cooked food, the way food should be,” is the mantra of Brookside Inn owner Damian Watson.

And now, Houlton area people with a sweet tooth or hankering for a home-cooked meal have that option in the Shiretown instead of traveling to the Brookside Inn in Smyrna.

Watson officially opened a satellite branch in Houlton at 7 Broadway on Friday, Jan. 29, with a soft opening. Watson and his wife Faith took over the family business from his parents Carl and Carmel Watson in 2017 after spending many years in Texas.

The idea of expanding to Houlton started in the summer of 2020 when Brookside Inn began selling breads, pies and cookies in downtown Houlton from a small, self-service kiosk in Market Square. An additional stand was placed in Littleton, near the Southern Aroostook Agricultural Museum on U.S. Route 1, as well as in front of the restaurant on U.S. Route 2.

“When we got shut down because of COVID, I was looking for different ways to get our products out,” he said. “Just because the restaurant was closed (to sit-down dining), didn’t mean that people didn’t want to buy things.”

For a month, the stand worked very well utilizing a cash box on the honor system, much like a farmer would use to sell potatoes or other vegetables from the side of the road. The sales were so good that Watson said he had to add a second baker to keep up with the demand.

“Near the end of it, there were a couple of things that happened that forced us to shut it down,” Watson said. 

Fresh-baked breads, muffins, pies and other sweet treats, as well as some meal options from Brookside Inn in Smyrna are now available in Houlton. (Joseph Cyr | Houlton Pioneer Times)

The initial success of the stands, however, further cemented the notion for Watson that a satellite branch of the Brookside Inn could work in the Houlton area. 

“A lot of people really liked having the stand there,” Watson said. He jokingly added that some people were not pleased with the location because it was on the path they walked and negated the health benefits of their walk since they couldn’t resist the cookies.

The kiosks came down around the same time that his restaurant was ramping back up for operation, but because of their success Watson knew a more permanent, storefront location could work well.

“For months I had people calling and asking if I was going to come back to Houlton,” he said. “People really enjoyed being able to buy a fresh loaf of bread. So I started looking for an available location.”

The Brookside Inn Houlton location will feature all of the goodies found in Smyrna, including four types of breads (white, oat, oatmeal raisin and cinnamon swirl), pies, muffins, doughnuts and banana breads, as well as beverages.

Watson said they were also featuring a number of lunch options for people, including popular favorites like fish chowder, chicken pot pie, lasagna, baked beans and a variety of sandwiches. Cakes and pies are also available.

Watson said those who want to have whole pies or larger orders of breads can call the Smyrna restaurant and order them to be picked up in Houlton.

The shop will be open Monday through Saturday, from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information, visit Brookside at 2277 U.S. Route 2, call 757-8456 or check them out on Facebook.