Larson’s Lunch Box in Damariscotta has reopened with new owners who plan to stay the course at the popular eatery.
Tim Beal and Tamara Dica, owners of the Damariscotta River Grill, purchased the business from Billy and Barb Ganem and reopened Larson’s on Thursday, May 20.
“We loved it, we wanted to keep it where it is. The community loves it,” Beal said during an interview at the Damariscotta River Grill on Monday, May 23.
All the favorite burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, and salads will be available, as well as the beloved lobster and crab rolls. Larson’s is using all the same food suppliers and the same recipes.
At the moment, however, there is a crab shortage, so crab rolls sell out fast, Beal said.
Prior to officially opening, Beal and Dica trained with the previous owners during a soft opening to learn the workflow and practice recipes for the menu items.
As Beal and Dica work out the kinks of operating Larson’s, the eatery is open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursday through Saturday. Currently, the two run the Larson’s for lunch and then go downtown to prepare the Damariscotta River Grill for dinner.
The business will remain seasonal, closing in October sometime after the Damariscotta Pumpkinfest and Regatta.
Eventually, the days and hours of operation may expand once employees are fully trained, possibly sometime in June, Beal said.
“We’ll understand the rhythms,” Beal said.
He said eventually the goal is to have one of them at Larson’s and one at the Damariscotta River Grill at all times.
The owners are using the same team of employees from the River Grill and have a handful of students traveling from abroad to work for the summer, something that has been hampered for the past two years by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Beal and Dica have owned the Damariscotta River Grill for nearly three years and are planning a similar transition for Larson’s Lunch Box, simply continuing to provide the same good food and service.
“This is another thing that is near and dear to people,” Beal said.
Beal said they are open to suggestions about the way things have traditionally been done at Larson’s or for favorite menu items because they don’t want to change anything.
“If someone says it used to be like that, we’ll look into that,” Beal said.
Larson’s Lunch Box was founded in 1962 by Arthur and Mary Larson. The business was then passed to their niece, Suzanne Carney, who operated it for years before leasing the building to someone else.
The Ganems ran the business for 16 years before putting it up for sale after last season.
When Dica heard from Bobby Whear, a real estate agent who bartends at the River Grill, that he was showing the place, she was immediately interested.
“Something just clicked,” Dica said.
After seeing the condition of the building and the equipment at Larson’s, Beal and Dica decided it was the right move to take over the lunch spot.
“They kept it impeccable,” Dica said.
For now, Larson’s is not taking phone orders.
“We’re excited to see people so happy that Larson’s Lunch Box is open. The feedback is awesome,” Dica said.
Larson’s Lunch Box is located at 430 Main St. in Damariscotta.