Shannon Schmelzer loves history, so it should come as no surprise that her new business, The Tinnery, is housed in an 1878 building right next to the historic footbridge that Luther Maddocks helped to build.
The Tinnery is the brainchild of Schmelzer, who has also been running Shannon’s Unshelled in Boothbay Harbor for the past 8 years. Although her original dream for her little lobster shack has grown, Schmelzer’s dedication to quality and supporting the local fishing community remains unchanged. Her goal, then and now, was to deliver the best experience possible. The Tinnery builds on Schmelzer’s original vision to use the freshest local ingredients, prepared from scratch in a beautiful setting overlooking Boothbay Harbor’s historic Footbridge, and provide customers with an undeniable Maine experience.
Steeped in local history, The Tinnery sits on the site of Boothbay Harbor’s old canning district. Lobster, mackerel, and clam canning started in the Boothbay region at Lobster Cove in 1878 at a lobster factory once located at Barrett Park. Local mover-and-shaker Luther Maddocks and many others jumped at the sardine opportunity. Eventually there were six canneries in the area, their names changing at a bewildering rate as the owners went in and out of business.
Four company steamers, as well as independent fishermen, supplied the fish. The Maddocks Packing Co. was described as the biggest establishment of its kind in Maine.
It was the original use of the building that inspired Schmelzer’s next project.
“I was inspired by the conservas canned seafood bars of Europe, where people gather in a casual environment and get a beer and a bite,” Schmelzer said. “We love the idea of ‘seafare to share’ and our menu features dishes that friends and families can enjoy together. Although we will have limited seating initially to stay within state of Maine’s COVID-19 guidelines, we hope as more people get vaccinated and things open up, that will change and we will be able to have live music as well.”
Schmelzer is also passionate about the process of canning and preserving. Mainers have been preserving and canning the fruits of their labor for many generations.
“We source all of our preserves locally, either from Morse’s Sauerkraut, who continue to honor the traditional recipe and fermentation methods begun by the family over 100 years ago, or from other local artisanal kitchens,” Schmelzer said. “Whether it is canning, salting, drying or pickling, we hope to highlight these traditional methods and showcase has it can preserve and in many cases, enhance the flavor!”
The Tinnery is open 4:30-10 p.m., Wednesday-Saturday. For more information or to make a reservation, go to tinnerymaine.com