St. John Valley

Route 1 BBQ closes its doors, at least for now

MADAWASKA, Maine — After a short time in Madawaska, Route 1 BBQ announced on its Facebook page Tuesday that it is officially closed, but won’t quit trying to bring barbecue to the town of Madawaska. 


Route 1 BBQ owners Sue and Ray Cooke posted on the business’ Facebook page Tuesday that they were making the announcement with a “heavy heart.” 

“We would like to thank the community and all the people who came out to support us,” the post read. “We have made many great friends along the way and have many memories of the people we’ve met.”

Route 1 BBQ came to life in Madawaska in October after a ribbon-cutting ceremony inducted the restaurant as a member of the St. John Valley Chamber of Commerce. Chamber Director Sharon Boucher said the chamber would do anything they could to help out its members. 

The St. John Valley Chamber of Commerce board of directors, Route 1 BBQ staff, and guests helped celebrate the ribbon cutting ceremony in October. (Morgan Mitchell | SJVT)

“They are a great couple and have put a lot of hard work and money into establishing themselves as a viable business,” Boucher said. “We’ll be working with them and the town to do anything we can to see that they can re-establish their business elsewhere. I know Keith Cyr is looking into new locations for them and everyone is on board to see them succeed.” 

During the early stages of the business, the Madawaska Rec Department contacted Route 1 BBQ to be the site of a weekly cornhole, since the restaurant had enough space inside to accommodate the game. So cornhole was held Wednesday nights at the restaurant to provide more out of the house activities for community members during the winter months. 

Cornhole is a game in which two plywood boards with a hole cut out are propped up at an angle facing each other. Players toss a bag filled with corn or beans from one side to the other to get the bag in the hole of the opposite game board. 

Economic Development Director Keith Cyr said he’s been in contact with the owners and is working with them to help them find a new place in Madawaska.

“Obviously we want to keep them around, and I will do everything I can to help them out,” Cyr said. “They are great people and they are aware that I’m here to help.” 

While they declined to comment on the reasoning behind being asked to vacate the building, Route 1 BBQ plans to look for a permanent location in the Valley. 

“Our journey does not end here. We are looking for a new space within the St. John Valley to reopen,” the post read. “We have grown to love this community and wish to stay a part of it.”

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