Fort Kent tavern goes out of business amid COVID-19 regulations

FORT KENT, Maine — Just a year and a half after opening for business to much fanfare in Fort Kent, Crossings will close its doors for good amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The business was a welcome addition to northern Maine nightlife when it moved into the iconic Bee-Jays Tavern building on Fort Kent’s Main Street in July 2019.

Bee Jays closed during the summer of 2018 after serving the area for nearly half a century.

Dr. John Hotchkiss, a former radiologist at Northern Maine Medical Center, purchased and remodeled the building to open Crossings.

Crossings kitchen manager Claire Nichols said the business was able to survive the pandemic until COVID-19 regulations mandated by Gov. Janet Mills included a 9 p.m. curfew for bars and restaurants.

“The 9 o’clock curfew really did us in; 30 percent of our revenue came in after 9 o’clock,” Nichols said. “Because of the unknown of how long it will go on, we just simply can’t continue.”

Nichols, who also has a full-time job teaching special education at SAD 27, said she cried when she learned of the decision to close Crossings, but is more concerned for the other employees who depend on their Crossings’ income to survive.

Crossings employs eight people in all, including three full-time employees and five who work part- time.

“We are saddened to close our doors and will miss our friends and family who became a part of our daily lives,” Nichols said. “We hope that while the business is for sale someone will buy it and continue the legacy that once was BeeJay’s.”

“We know when things open back up it will be pretty profitable, because people will be itching to go back out, but with all of the regulations right now there’s nothing we could do,” Nichols added.

Crossings will remain open until 9 p.m. on New Year’s Eve.

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