Gift certificates may be purchased by sending a check in any amount to
P.O. Box 837, Ogunqut, ME 03907-0837. We do accept credit cards over the phone but we limit credit card phone orders to $100.00 per certificate.
Ogunquit ME edited April 24, 2018 by Tim Tower
January in Ogunquit in 2018 was cold, one of the coldest Januarys I have seen. The first week of February was much the same. Mild weather came upon us for the next two weeks in February. We started to active storm systems during the last week in February. March was a stormy month with three noreasters of good strength and one that grazed us, moving offshore far enough to not bother. Still, the tide on the three were high enough to be close to the dining room floor, with one with such a high (moon) tide that it flooded the dining room floor.
April has been a cold month, one of the coldest Aprils I have ever seen. Most mornings were below freezing before dawn, one or two mornings in the lower to mid twenties. One morning in the teens. I don't know as we have ever had so much ice on the dock leading to the float by Barnacle Billy's ("Original"). Generally, when April comes, we expect to see no ice.
As a result, business hasn't been as good as expected. This mainly because no one wants to sit on the deck in cold lousy weather. And many didn't come to the opening because they were afraid to drive back in the snow - which is what we had on April 6, 2018! In fact, there were pictures of patrons on the deck with snow coming down all around them. It isn't a first. We have had snow on opening day before. But it is unusual.
Former First Lady, Barbara Bush, passed away on April 17. That certainly sent a shock wave through the southern coastal community of Maine. She was much loved in this area as a person, for her charity work, her speaking, for her work in the service of the public and because she was Barbara. For years I called her Mrs. Bush. Three or four years ago, twice, she told me; "Call me Barbara, please." Yes, I had to be told twice. It was an honor. And it has been an honor serving the Bush family for so many years. Her relationship with her husband, the forty-first President of the United States, was extraordinary, a representative of how a perfect relationship should be. Barbara was good at making sure the Secret Service defended their privacy while eating at the flag pole table on the deck at Barnacle Billy's. Usually, they had many guests when they dined with us. And it was important to her that everyone enjoyed themselves while there. After dessert, she allowed photos to be taken and people to approach them, which the people, of course did. It was always a wonderful event. And I felt to lucky to be a part of it.
Barbara and the President (which I always called him) started talking about age the last time former President Bush jumped out of a plane. Barbara would tell me that for four days they were the same age; "After that, I'm married to an older man." both their birthdays are in early June, within four days of being a year apart in age. They were fun together. And I'm wondering, as I'm sure everyone else is, how our former President is going to get along without Barbara. They had been a couple for seventy-two years.
So another page turns in the book of life. And another season is upon us. I'm hoping I get many chances to see former President Bush. But I am glad for all the times I was with him swapping fishing stories and talking about life. We shall see. But losing Barbara has certainly left a void. And, aside from feeling sorry for myself, I wonder what the outcome will be.
I apologize if I am coming across too maudlin. I'm actually very happy about getting the opportunity to know them as much as I did. They have been very nice to our family over the years, the whole Bush family. And, of course, it's time to get on with another season here in Perkins Cove. Happy new year, everyone!
edited November 8, 2016 by Tim Tower
Now that we have closed both restaurants, the cleaning of both progresses. My brother, Court, and Matt Pedersen are working on getting Barnacle Billy's (Original) cleaned up while Chuck MacDonald and Chad Schools are running clean-up at Barnacle Billy's, Etc. I'm making sure that everything is going according to plan and that everything is where it should be for winter storage after all the clean-up is finished. We have to prepare for winter storms. Some of that preparation means moving tables from "Original" to "Etc". Original is closer to the water so it is naturally more vulnerable to storm surge, heavy rain, heavy seas at astronomical high tides and northeast wind, our most unfavorable wind (along with easterly wind) during a storm. We hope we will be spared the major storms this winter like the last two. But you have to be prepared for the worst.
I posted opening dates on our home (index) page, the page you first see when you open this web site. For Barnacle Billy's (Original), we open at 11:00 AM EDT, Friday, April 7, 2017, and stay open through the weekend until Sunday night. Closing times will be 9:00 PM, both Friday & Saturday. Sunday we will be open until at least 8:00 PM. We will be closed the following week including April, 10, 11, 12 & 13. We will be opening again on Friday, April 14, 2017. From that day forward we will be open daily from 11:00 AM to at least 8:00 PM until the end of the season. Our season ends at "Original" on Sunday night, October 22, 2017. That weekend is "Ogunquitfest". And Sunday, our last day, will be the day of the, locally famous, high heel race!
For Barnacle Billy's, Etc., we open at 5:00 PM on Thursday, May 4, 2017. Typically, Original closes at 5:00 PM on that same day so that everything is focused on the opening at Etc. Etc. will remain open daily from that day forward. On Saturday & Sunday, Etc. will open at noon, closing at 9:00 PM. Every Saturday & Sunday will have a noon opening going forward. During the week, Etc. will open at 5:00 PM and close at 9:00 PM. Etc. will be open at noon on Saturday, May 27, 2017, and remain opening at noon every day until our closing day on Sunday, November 5, 2017 at 9:00 PM.
Special days to remember in Ogunquit are the fireworks on July 4, 2017, put on by our wonderful Chamber of Commerce on southern end of Ogunquit Beach. The fireworks are usually spectacular every year. Last year the Chamber had a reenactment of the Boston Tea Party on the Bunny Clark, the boat tied stern-to pointed south at Barnacle Billy's dock. The deck at Original overlooks the Bunny Clark. This can also be easily viewed from the boardwalk along the shore. That is set to go off on Saturday, April 22, 2017 at 6:30 PM EDT. Last year was the first year of the reenactment. It was so much fun we are looking forward to this again next season.
Please enjoy a wonderful off season, winter well (as Dad would have said) and stay happy and healthy until we see you next season!
edited October 24, 2016
Our 55th year at Barnacle Billy's (original) ended last night. We had no deck; it was a little too cool for most patrons. However, there were some brave souls who said it wasn't bad in the sun. Summers end way too quickly. And good people leave too soon. And the way time works for me, the 56th year will be here before you know it. But last night was fun. And we were short staffed. So I bussed many tables. That's how I started working at Barnacle Billy's at 10 years old. And that's how I seem to end every season. It almost seems appropriate.
Former President George H. W. Bush was only here two times last, 2016, season. I felt lucky (and honored) that he was here that often. The ocean wasn't as calm this summer as many previous summers. He always comes by boat. Although compromised health wise, he was still the wonderful man I have come to know and love. Barbara, our former First Lady, wasn't there either time. So we never did see Barbara. But we did see former President George W's daughter, Barbara. George W. was not here last summer and neither was Jeb, I'm sorry to say. But siblings Doro, Marvin and Neil were. I enjoyed their company all.
Barnacle Billy's, Etc. will be open until 9:00 PM on Sunday, October 30, 2016. Then she, my mistress, too will close until Thursday, May 4, 2017. I will not be there on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Wednesday I will be at a Recreational Advisory Panel (Federal fishery meeting) meeting in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The two other days I will be hosting offshore fishing trips for my angling patrons on the Bunny Clark. I will happily be at "Etc" for the last three days. I am not looking forward to the end of the season!
edited July14, 2016
Welcome. Sorry about not updating this site as much as I probably should. But it has been busier than normal. And I have been busier than ever. Not that I can really use that as an excuse. What did my father say; "If you want to get a job done, find a busy man to do it."? Enough.
Our business has been very good lately. Our first ten days after opening were spectacular. I thought to myself; "Here we go." But the cold set in after that. No one wanted to sit on the deck; it was too cold for the rest of April, May and the first two weeks of June. So we went behind. We started summer 13% behind last season. And that is really not an accurate statement. I'm talking gross sales (which doesn't allow for product price increases or the deficit in sales starting a week later than last year). And I am comparing sales to the best year we have ever had for gross sales: 2015. Since July arrived, we have warmed up to a little more than 4% behind. I'm happy with that. On the good weather days we have been doing better on matched days. On the less than perfect days we have been matching the same day. All we need is good weather. And, yes, our business here is weather driven. Certainly. We have proven this time and time again. Barring any "911's" - that was a year changer - or any catastrophic event, we should enjoy another great season. And I'm just looking forward to being here.
I'm not sure if I am happier than last year or I'm judging things as they should be but our patrons seem better than ever. They always seemed good. That was never an issue. Maybe they are just glad to see me. I've been dumping the road bike so often in training rides (in their minds), maybe they are just happy to know I'm still alive! I'm hoping it's just people optimistic about the future. Whatever. I'm glad for it.
In case you were wondering, the family is fine. My mother is doing well. The business of business is running smoothly.
My wife, Deb, has now prohibited me from feeding our dog, Gill (a Border Collie), a hot dog roll every morning. She says it's making the dog fat. He looks good to me. So now I have a bag of carrots. He is not nearly as enthused about carrots. Oh, he will eat them. But he does back flips for hot dog buns. Don't tell her but yesterday I let the dog know what it used to be like in the good old days. The dog and I come down every morning between 4:30 AM & 6 AM, depending on how much desk work I can get done at home first. Gill gets distracted but will hang with me as long as I pay attention to him. When he thinks for a second I'm not, he's off chasing down a dog on a leash or tramping through the garden. Ouch! But he will stay with me in the office while I punch out order sheets and do the day book.
I know this isn't much of an entry. But I hope you liked it. I'm always at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to drop me a note. Until next time. Who knows when that will be! Also, I write a daily entry on my fishing web site at the "fishing update" link on my home page at www.bunnyclark.com. And, yes, Bunny Clark is my mother's maiden name.
edited April 24, 2016
The following opening weekends/week have been very good, some of our best days when comparing the same days of the year in previous seasons. We are so weather driven here. The weather has been good, albeit, a little cooler than normal. But I really think the good weather has helped our business this April - so far.
Some of the highlights of the recent past included the reenactment of the Boston Tea Party at the Barnacle Billy's dock on my deep sea fishing the Bunny Clark on Saturday, April 16th. This was something dreamed up by our Chamber of Commerce. And, at first, my thoughts ranged from the hokey aspects to the moderately bizarre. But it was fun. It included throwing "bails" of tea off the Bunny Clark while an emcee, on a microphone/speaker explained the history including the state of Maine's part in all of this. The actors were dressed in period clothing that looked like the clothes were made right out of the past. All in front of a crowd of onlookers lining the boardwalk and on the deck of Barnacle Billy's. It was clever, fun, informative and it made people happy. Now my thoughts range to hoping they do it again next year.
I would rather not skip back to the weather but, with the many cloudless days we have had in April, we have had a better than normal turnout on the Barnacle Billy's deck overlooking Perkins Cove. I can't tell you how many wonderful comments I took from patrons who really enjoyed being there in the sun. You had to have a little more than the white Polo shirt I was wearing. But with a few more articles of clothing, it was really enjoyable. What with the good weather, the light winds, the sun, a rum punch and a delicious lobster roll, what more could you ask for? And don't say dancing girls. That wouldn't quite fit.
On Thursday, April 28th, Barnacle Billy's, Etc. opens for the season at 5:00 PM. Barnacle Billy's (original) restaurant always closes at 5:00 PM for the opening next door at "ETC". We have been gearing for the opening for the last month. Tomorrow we will go over pricing and menus. All the fresh produce will arrive the day before. It should be a fun opening. I'm very much looking forward to it. The opening always heralds in the complete Barnacle Billy's season.
I'm looking for a very good May/June to top off an already wonderful spring season!
edited April 7, 2016
After closing last year, my main focus was to get our winter projects list in order and to start moving on them. After the previous winter, I was expecting the same; a cold very snowy off-season. Our biggest project, a total repair of the support pieces (pilings, deck floor joists, 13 major "I" beams, etc) and foundation at Barnacle Billy's (original), didn't really get off the ground until the first of December. The "I" beams that had already been ordered were still being galvanized. The pilings hadn't been ordered yet. Everything was just getting off the ground.
For seven years I had been concerned with the state of the foundation at Barnacle Billy's. During all those years we had people (mostly Jack Ladderbush - our best carpenter) shoring up support pieces, sistering "I" beams and the like. I took a keen interest in the structural integrity of Barnacle Billy's (original) after our father died. So in early spring of 2015 I hired an engineering firm (Caldwell Engineering) to draw up plans for a total repair project. A bit later I contacted Atlantic Mechanical to see if they would take on the project this year when the engineering plans had been completed. I was very lucky that AMC had the time and agreed do the project. They are, of course, the best. By the end of the summer I had the plans, a price from AMC and a start and end date. The finish date was slated for March 1, 2016. I suspected it might go longer. So I figured a week more and adjusted our opening date to April 8th in accordance with a potential late finish.
As projects go, we added and subtracted things as it progressed. Improvements in materials and stronger reinforcements caused the price to go up somewhat in places. But we saved money in others. The most salient feature of the project, though, was the weather. No one ever expected that the winter would be so mild. The project flew along. The whole thing was completed before the beginning of February! And it was under budget. And it was a perfect job, better than I ever expected. Thank you Larry Paul (President of AMC)!
It was so early, in fact, I was able to get Tim Darling (a local contractor, Darling Industrial Group) to totally revamp our street drain system. The weather was so good that I was able to get the Town of Ogunquit in on the project as well. Together, with the continued good weather, that project was completed before the end of February! This included three new catch basins, three new style grates and all connected with 18" straight pipe. Three times the amount of water can be removed from the streets now. We used cold pack to seal the road up. But the Town of Ogunquit is planning to pave the whole area as soon as the paving plants open this later spring. The drainage system is the best we have ever had at Barnacle Billy's, an added feature I never thought I would see completed this year.
I take a vacation most of March. While I am gone, my brother, Court, takes over everything. We keep in touch via email. But most of the winter decisions, getting the crew together, planning the opening and getting it all done on time is his thing. Court has been doing it so long that I don't have to get involved much. Oh, I have questions. But they have always been easily answered.
And that brings us to today. We have other projects, most completed by one of my favorite people in the world, Jack Ladderbush. There are always quite a few of those. And if you want to know the details you can ask me when you get here. Suffice it to say, to mention it here would take too much time. And I couldn't give Jack enough credit here in my writing.
We are just about ready to go. All the pricing has been completed. The lobsters are in the tanks. The chickens are cooking on the rotisserie (we have to pre-cook the chickens for a couple hours before we cook them tomorrow). Mitch Perkins is making the salads and the chowder. He's the best. Eric Littlefield (Kitchen Manager) is making the lobster stew. Just as good as my father used to make it! Chuck MacDonald (the GM at BB's, Etc.) is double checking everything and instructing where there needs to be instruction. Etc & etc. I am happy about where we are at. The weather looks like it is going to be good for the weekend - without the cold of last weekend. And I would celebrate with a rum punch if it were legal to do so! By the way, Stu Dunn (our liquor manager) is ready with the rum punches! I'm looking forward to a wonderful season. My sister, Meg, will be on the floor. My sister, Cathy, will be working behind the scenes. But you will also see her opening night. What could be better? See you there!
edited November 11, 2015
The Barnacle Billy's season came and went. It goes by more quickly every year. Looking back, it was a very successful year, both in weather and business. The fall weather was particularly good with very little rain, much less wind and sunnier days than we expect to get that time of year.
Being a lobster based restaurant, I always look at lobsters differently than most. Looking back, lobster prices were higher than normal this season. This trend continued through the season. And this also included our lobster meat which we get picked fresh daily, every day. Lobster meat prices never did get as low as the year before. Soft shell (new shell) lobsters didn't show up until a couple of weeks later than I wanted. Lobstermen just weren't catching them as early as they normally do. This was due to the colder than normal temperatures of the water in which they live. Consequently, lobstering is excellent right now. Prices to lobstermen are much higher than it normally is this time of year. That's good for them. Ocean surface water temperatures are remaining just a little cooler than what has been normal for many years previously, but not my much. I don't know how surface water temperatures relate to the bottom where lobsters live.
Employment, always a concern when the high school and college kids go back to school, was not as much of a problem as we have seen in the past. We had some of the best staff that we have ever had here at Barnacle Billy's. My brother, Court, mirrored my feelings. Those who stayed on were more than happy to work overtime to get the job done. To a person, everyone seemed to have a smile on their face throughout the fall. Of course, our patrons are the best on earth. Olympia, Charlie, Robin, Laura Lee, "Former Cyclist" Richard, Barbara, Jon, Fran, on and on and on. I love them all. It's the top thing in my life that really makes me love this restaurant vocation. I have a bad habit of not trying to remember names although I recognize, it seems, everyone. Thank you all for forgiving me this transgression, your patronage and your good humor. It truly makes my life.
Although I do plan to add to this journal from time to time, I want to wish you all a happy, healthy and prosperous winter. "Winter Well", as our father would have said. I'm very much looking forward to a new season next year. See you there? Also, I do edit my deep sea fishing site every day or almost every day at www.bunnyclark.com.
edited July 9, 2015
It's been over a month since I last wrote. At that time lobster prices were dropping. And, indeed, prices on pound and a quarter and pound and a half lobsters did fall to more reasonable levels. But that was as far as it went. Lobster meat prices also dropped - but, then, went right back up! So, historically, we are paying more for lobster meat now than we ever have paid this time of year during other seasons. And the price of big lobsters is still very high. Why? From what I understand, there is a huge lobster export market that has been established with China. At the same time, the ocean water temperatures in New England are lower than they have been for decades. Lobsters don't crawl with these colder water temperatures. Thus, lobsters aren't being caught with the frequency we are used to at this time of year. So we aren't getting the lobsters we need and China's large demand for the bigger lobsters is keeping the big lobsters away from the domestic market. We are still getting some of the bigger lobsters but the domestic market is competing with the Chinese market. So we are paying bigger money for our lobsters. The water is starting to warm up fast. When it gets warm enough, it will trigger the molting sequence in the lobster population. By August there will be so many lobsters crawling that we won't have traps enough to catch them! Hopefully, a drop in price will follow. This is my take on the situation, of course.
During the month of June we enjoyed the company of former President George H. W. Bush and his former First Lady Barbara three times. Their son, Neil, and their daughter, Doro, has also been with them as well as Laura, young Barbara and other members of the family. The President is restricted to the wheel chair now. But this hasn't stopped him. He needs help but he also helps himself and, to me, is the same witty guy he always was. And so is Barbara. But you can't stop the aging process. And so it goes.
The Bush's started coming to Barnacle Billy's (original) restaurant after their birthday celebrations this year. Barbara's birthday was June 8 while the former President's was June 12. Barbara once told me; "For four days George and I are the same age. After that, I'm married to an older man!" I have always got a chuckle out of that statement. She is now 90 years young and "Number 41" is 91. And I'm happy to say that 41 still likes his steamers sand free and his burgers slightly warm and blood red! I hope to see both of them again as soon as I can!
And the summer is upon us. My brother, Court, is still doing a bang-up job at Barnacle Billy's (original) and my sister, Cathy, his twin, is still working in the office (along side me at times). They will be enjoying their 60th birthday on July 10th! It doesn't seem possible. Meg is still working the floor at Barnacle Billy's (original) Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Meg (all my siblings, really) has been very supportive of me. And I appreciate all that support from all corners. Since my father passed, it takes all four of us to make it happen here. It also takes our loving mother, Bunny (Yes, she is doing fine, thank you very much!). And I still feel that it takes all five of us to the keep the standards that were set alone by our father and mother years ago. As long as I am alive, Barnacle Billy's will remain the same, within the law. Come down and enjoy a lobster with us! You'll see that not much has changed (except the prices). And happy summer - it took long enough to get here!
edited June 3, 2015
We started to have complaints about the web cam on Sunday. I took at look at the camera (from the computer) which made me think it was a humidity problem. On Monday, it started to rain. Late that morning I pulled up the Company's email account to find various notes from others around the country asking about the web cam being down. Indeed, I could not pull the camera up in-house. So I walked out on the roof to physically look at the camera.
The camera is located in a waterproof aluminum rectangular container with a gasketed top. The top is spring loaded at the front with a hinge. On the back is a stainless steel latch that locks the top in place. So when you un-latch the back, the top flips up and stays up and out of the way.
When I approached the camera, the top was standing right up with the camera totally exposed to the rain. My first thought was; "Who was up here that would forget to close the top?" In fact, that wasn't the case. The rivets that held the stainless latch in place had rotted out. The latch had fallen on the shingles just below the camera. The waterproof box was full of rain water. The camera was dead.
I would never have thought that the salt air would have rotted the rivets out at the fitting. The box had seemed so weather proof and strong. But you know what they say, a system is only as good as it's weakest link. In this case it was the less noble metal in the rivets!
So today we had Digital Sky over to replace the camera, replace the waterproof box and bring the whole system back on line again. The job was finished and the image of Perkins Cove on line before noon. Miles, the proprietor of DS, was good at getting his techs down first thing after the rain had passed.
I want to thank all of you who emailed me about the web cam. I should have walked out on the roof when the first one came to my attention. Because I didn't it will cost us about $4,500.00. But I do appreciate the emails. Thanks again!
edited May 30, 2015
The 26th of May would have been our father's birthday. He would have been 88 years old. There has been so much going on that I would love to tell him about. These things make me think of "Billy" more often than not. There are also those things that keep cropping up around the restaurant that are a constant reminder of my (our) father. And, when we caught our first spring of the year mackerel on the Bunny Clark (this boat named after my mother) last week, I thought of my father again. He always loved the first couple of mackerel I caught if I could wrestle one or two away from my angling patrons. He used to seine mackerel, herring and pogies commercially from his seiner, Isabelle J., II, during the late 1940's, early 1950's. In fact, I was born the night he had his largest ever set of herring. He was working off the Iles of Shoals that night after my mother came out of labor. In those days, of course, they wouldn't let the husbands in to witness the birth. And my mother was made comfortable in the hospital for three days before they let her go home. Today, it's in and out as quick as possible. I'm even surprised that they let the woman lay down during the procedure now-a-days!
I think Dad would have liked the way things are going at Barnacle Billy's this season so far. Memorial Sunday was our biggest day of the year and quite possibly our best grossing day ever. This doesn't take into account the comparison with relative prices as we have had to increase some of our lobster product menu items. But many regular patrons that day mentioned to me that they had never seen it so busy. But then again most don't remember the days when we were the only show in town with lines out the door night after night. In those days, the 1960's, we closed at 11:00 PM. As a kid from the ages of 10 to 12 years old, I didn't get out of work here until 1:00 AM. The labor laws in Maine at the time were such that the sons and daughters of a proprietor could have their kids working at any age. And my parents did. I wasn't so keen on it at the time. But now I appreciate the way my father built up my work ethic. I've never been afraid of hard work ever since. I also inherited my father's early rising time of 3:00 AM. I can't tell you how much work I get done between 3 & 6:00 AM!
Last Wednesday, we dropped our 1.25 and 1.5 pound lobster prices a few dollars at both restaurants. This is in tune with dropping wholesale lobster prices. Unlike other years, lobster prices didn't drop across the board, with the larger select lobsters maintaining their high wholesale prices. Lobster meat prices are still fairly high as well for this time of year. And we use TCK (tail, claw & knuckle) even though we could get a much cheaper price on KC (knuckle & claw meat). It's always been that way; never frozen, always a day old at most and the full gamut of lobster meat products. Larger select lobster (1.75 to 4 pounders) prices should drop next week sometime.
The weather is getting to be like summer again. It seemed like it went from winter to summer in one day! All last week air temperatures were in the 80°s. My wife, Deb, has been complaining about not being able to wear shorts all spring. Well, last week the complaining stopped. Deb is the one responsible for doing the flower arrangements at both restaurants. For years I tried to get her to accept a pay check from the Corporation for this. She has always refused. I'm not sure why except that she was very close to my father when he was alive. He got her interested in doing it one day. She has never stopped. It would be nice if she would take a check because then I might be able to buy a new set of racing wheels for my bicycle! No? Oh well, what the heck!
John Patton's flower garden between the two restaurants looks wonderful with all the tulips and the very green grass. It almost smells tropical but looks like spring in Holland. If I were to ever forget how beautiful it looks I would be shortly reminded by all the people taking pictures of it with boats of Perkins Cove making up a lovely background. Thanks, John. It's very special!
In closing, I'm looking forward to a wonderful summer. After the winter we have had, this warmer weather seems much more special than normal. I certainly do appreciate it more. And I appreciate being here as well. Thanks, Dad. Happy Birthday! But somehow it seems I got all the gifts. I wish you were here to see them!
edited May 8, 2015
The month of April will be most noted for the high price of lobster meat and lobster products. At one point we were paying $58/pound for handpicked fresh local lobster meat. The price never did go below the mid $50s for the month. Normally, we labor through these prices that last about a week before prices fall. Not this year. The sea water temperature was so cold that lobsters didn't crawl much. Since the northeastern U. S. has established a huge Chinese export market, the demand both locally and overseas was very high with not nearly enough product to meet demands. Lobsters weren't trapping and everybody wanted them. So did we! But everyone had to pay for them. I did end up raising prices on things like lobster stew, lobster salad plates and lobster sautés. But our lobster prices stayed on the low end. And I really should have started looking at prices more seriously at an earlier time.
When May showed up prices were just starting to drop - some. As of this writing, prices have dropped but not nearly to the level we expect for this time of year. The water is still cold. Lobsters still aren't crawling like they should. And everything in the world of fish/shellfish stocks are behind in migration a week or two. But that's nature. And we will roll with it.
April's weather was also fairly cold. But winds were light for the most part. The weekends have been busy. The week days have not. However, for those who have time, the week days have been the most enjoyable times here at Barnacle Billy's. We had fires in both fire places every day in April. It's been very enjoyable at times on the deck and, at times, by the fire. I would call it a win win! But that's me.
The worst thing about April was the fire at the Blue Water Inn at Ogunquit Beach. Some say it was an electrical fire that started in a wall that burned down the entire Inn and damaged Huckleberry's restaurant next door. It started around 6:00 PM on Tuesday, April 28. We could see the smoke from Perkins Cove drifting with the northwest wind blowing out to sea. The wind was strong enough to fan the flames and allow it to spread further than if it had been calm. Huckleberry's might have been spared otherwise. All of us were saddened by this not only because of what it did to the family and employees just before opening. But also because the Blue Water Inn was a landmark here in Ogunquit. And for all the work and heartache they will have to endure during the process afterward. Also, most will be keeping a close eye on the rebuilding. All of us who own property on the water will be hoping that the rebuilding period will move forward flawlessly. There is never a good time to have a fire. But to have a fire in a seasonal business just before opening and after all the winter improvement money has been spent is just devastating. We wish everyone at the Blue Water Inn the best for the future.
edited April 4, 2015, The day after opening day
Yesterday was the best opening day we have ever had at Barnacle Billy's. Not only was it a financial success on every level, there were no complaints (that I heard of) and everything ran as smoothly as if there were half the patrons. I was happy, our staff was happy and the customers, to a person, were all very happy to be there.
My sister Meg started the day at 7:00 AM (or maybe earlier). She worked the floor until 4:00 PM. Many customers were grateful she was there. After working in the office during the morning, my sister, Cathy, became a patron with local friends. She was noticed by other regulars. My brother, Court, controled the nuts & the bolts behind the scenes. And I worked the dining room & deck making sure everyone was okay, welcoming people to the opening day, thanking them for being there and very happy to see everyone. Our cocktail staff did a wonderful job as did managers Matt & Chuck (the GM from Etc) and the whole staff.
The weather is such an important part of a successful day at Barnacle Billy's. There was very little wind, the air temperature reached 65°F at least. We saw the sun through a smurry sky all day. The deck was full almost all day which left plenty of room in the dining room. Even at night we had a warm breeze making it easier for patrons to linger outside the restaurant before moving on. It was just a wonderful day all around. Thank you all so much for making it so!
edited April 2, 2015, We're almost ready
The valet parking lot is devoid of snow, it has been swept and the fence around it, where it was hit by the town plows this winter, has been repaired and painted. We have most of our product in house including the crab that was picked yesterday. The lobster stew will be made today for tomorrows opening. The lobster meat for the stew was picked yesterday. Lobsters will be in later this morning. Steamers will also arrive this morning. We are on track to be completely ready by this afternoon.
I can't tell you how excited I am to have the season starting again. Part of it is that I can't wait to see everybody sitting in front of the fire. But I also am very much looking forward to seeing all our returning employees. Certainly a compliment to us as a business (having both). You know part of me would like to stay open all winter. But, if we did, I would lose the excitement I feel now. And, somehow, it wouldn't seem so special. Very much looking forward to having you here!
edited March 30, 2015, Spring preparations for opening
The winter was one of the coldest winters we have seen in many years. Overall it probably wasn't as cold as the ambient temperature of the winter of 2013/2014 because December was so much warmer than normal and the first week of January was much the same. But the rest of January & February had to be the coldest and snowiest period we have seen or, I should say, that I can remember. And because March followed suit in the cold department, the snow we did have stayed. And it's still here! Albeit, not as much; probably half of what we had a month ago, maybe less. There is still plenty of it.
We had trouble opening last year because of a colder than normal winter. But we learned a few tricks from last year. We now have the water on and running at Barnacle Billy's. That happened by 8:30 this morning. And we are right on schedule with everything else. The only thing we have to contend with that we have never seen before this year is the snow in the valet parking lot a week before opening. We will have to remove that at some point this week.
Also, lobsters are higher than they have been for a few years. This is because the catch is down. The catch is down because the water is colder than normal. And lobsters don't crawl when the water is cold. Indeed, the lobstermen in Perkins Cove have only been going one day a week. The traps need to set longer than normal to bring the catch rate up. Otherwise, they aren't making enough money to warrant hauling their traps. As of two days ago, the boat price for lobsters was over $8.00/pound. I haven't dared ask what our wholesale price will be. We need them anyway. And our vendor gives us the best price around. But I can tell you that it won't be below $10.00.
And steamer (soft shelled clam) prices are high as well. I have no good reason for this. Nor does our supplier. But, again, we have the best supplier in Maine. And if I can't get the best answer or price from Stan Bayley, I can't trust anyone.
Other than that, the winter was a series of capital expenditures, mostly centered around Barnacle Billy's, Etc., that will be opening a month from now. We are six years into a seven year replacement window project at Etc. This was the largest window replacement of the six years. Plus, we completely replaced the bar floor in the lounge. In so doing, we put in all new shelving, all new appliances and a new bar sink. All this will improve the bar operations and give Stu Dunn and Dave DeCoste more room to work back there.
We had a repair list that needed to be completed in both restaurants. We also had three items we had to bring up to fire code. All normal stuff. Every year we are issued new business licenses from the town of Ogunquit through a Selectman's meeting. And, like every year so far, we took care of the code improvements and were issued licenses, like normal.
So, I'm looking forward to the beginning of the season and to see all the familiar faces in the dinning room and deck at Barnacle Billy's. And it seemed like a particularly long winter. I also have to apologize for not keeping up a more consistent presence on this web site. But when I don't you are free to contact me via email at email@example.com with any questions. I will be happy to answer them.
edited October 20, 2014, The day after the closing of Barnacle Billy's (original)
We closed Barnacle Billy's (original) last night, the first Barnacle Billy's restaurant my father started over fifty-three years ago. My mother, Bunny, was there as well as many many familiar and loved faces and friends. The last week of the season I am frequently asked two questions: "Are you looking forward to closing on Sunday?" and "What are you going to do when you close?". They are fair questions. But I always get a chuckle out of both. First, no, I never look forward to closing. I love doing what I do here. I hate the season to end. But, at the same time, I know the summer is over. It would be a dismal stretch between weekends, the restaurant does not have winter heat, nor is the building insulated and the storms, etc., would make it a logistical nightmare in the ordering department. So I hate to close but I know we can't stay open.
Second, there is much to do after the season is over. So I work. I work on the Bunny Clark Deep Sea Fishing business, the boat named after my mother. I have a capital projects list that I work with in the winter for the upkeep & repairs part of the out-of-season Barnacle Billy's business (the retaining wall was the major one last season). I work with all the other managers (my brother, Court) on the employee base, the structure of, placement, rates, sections, etc. We go over orders as well. And then there is the day to day, letting workers into the buildings, working on improvements, painting, varnishing, polishing, cleaning and the all important desk work. Usually, everything is completely finished (except for my boat) by the end of February. At that time I take a break with my wife. My brother, Court, watches the restaurant - actually, he always watches the restaurants even when I'm in town. And he starts the process of opening "Original" while I'm still on vacation. My sisters, Meg and Cathy, also watch the restaurant, Meg helping where she can. Cathy does a lot of the office stuff (along with Sarah Yorke, our head bookkeeper).
There is one other question I am asked all during the season: "Where is Meg?". They are referring to my sister, Meg, who is just one of the nicest individuals you will ever meet - and she is my sister besides. How can I be so lucky? I don't know. I do know that Meg is one of the most well liked members of my family among our dining guests. Meg does not work on the weekends. And this disappoints most patrons who ask. But I tell them that if they want to see her, they have to be there on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday before 4:00 PM. Many make the time to be there at the restaurant on those days just to see her. She is so helpful to me (and to my brother, Court) that I can't express my feelings strong enough for you to get the point. Suffice it to say that when she surprised me yesterday morning (a Sunday) at 6:30 AM telling me that she was going to be there for the closing day, I almost cried. Well that's one "other" day that I didn't have to answer the "Meg question"!
Well, it's another season's end. I want to thank everyone (patrons and employees) for making this one of the two best years that we have ever been open. To my recollection (and I can't bounce this one off my father), as well as being one of the two most successful seasons we have ever had, it was also the smoothest run season I can remember. The total season is not over yet. We still have two happy weeks with Barnacle Billy's, Etc and with that wonderful Chuck MacDonald at the helm. I will be spending most of my time there. And I will enjoy the last few days there. But time does go by fast. At least, it goes by fast for me. Thank you all for allowing me to do this with my family. And thank you, family, for your support and help. I couldn't do this on my own. Winter well as my father would say and as Robin & Laura Lee would remind me!
edited May 26, 2014, Memorial Day, Billy Tower's Birthday
Today would have been our father's (Billy's) birthday. He would have been 87 years old today. And it was a day in weather that he would have said matched his feelings about the day; a warm day with mostly cloudy conditions, a bit of light rain here and there but a good day to be alive. He used to remind me that when asked what he wanted for his birthday, Frank Sinatra replied; "Another one!" Well, unfortunately, both highly respected individuals don't get that chance again. Which is all the more reason to appreciate what you have while on the north side of terra firma.
I think I'm the only one in the family who hasn't given his father's ashes a proper burial yet. We all got a portion. This because I just couldn't think of something truly appropriate. I know the others have been very thoughtful about it and did their part to do what they thought was the best. And I think they have. All were good choices. But I've never been satisfied with the right choice in anything I have ever done - at first. This is unless my first choice was the best choice after a lot of thought. So I'm still not sure about it at this time. I want it to be special. I want it to be a place that both he and I recognized together as special. And I don't want the nagging feeling that I could have done something special but didn't. I know you are thinking that I am reading too much into this. But I believe our father would take my side on this one. He always took the time to do the right thing for me. So I think that the least I can do is the same for him.
Today we have all our winter projects finished. I will highlight only one. The patio/garden at Barnacle Billy's, Etc. We finished replacing the new retaining wall, capped and painted it, closed off the garden with a split rail fence and had the most wonderful 316 stainless steel horizontal railing made overlooking Perkins Cove. The old wooden vertical railing was one that limited one's view of the Cove while sitting. The new one is much more friendly to the eye. It is a work of art made by one, Mike Dumas, from Dumas Welding. I mention this because it is one of the things I truly believe that our father would have been very proud of. And there are a lot of things I do that I truly wish I could share with him: a particularly good business day (like this year's Mother's Day), a weather event, our best haddock spring we have ever seen on the Bunny Clark or even how nice the tulips look in the garden. All of these things he would have appreciated hearing about. All of these things I would have had the greatest pleasure seeing his reaction to. Some have said that he is still here, like someone looking over your shoulder. At times I think this is true. But you have to be careful with these thoughts. After all if it is really true I sure as hell want to look busy!
edited April 8, 2014
Opening weekend followed opening day with better than expected business but coming in at third overall. It was a cool weekend but a sunny Sunday with moderate winds overall and mild temperatures into the 50°s. The thing that always makes me love the opening weekend is the customers. I don't always know everyone's name. But it seems I recognize everyone, at least. And that makes it feel like family. Our father, Billy, was always tuned in on that aspect as well. In fact, he was under the weather at last year's opening and couldn't come down to the Cove. So, to get him back in the mix, I was taking pictures of different groups, individuals and families (who I know he would have loved to have seen) and texting them to him at home. So it seemed like family weekend. And it went off without a hitch. No complaints. Thank you so much for being a part of it.
Yesterday was the first day after opening weekend. We expected it to be slow and, in fact, it was slower than expected. But the weather forecast was not good. And weather forecasting hurts us more than the weather itself. I have always felt that in this day and age the weather forecasters tend to compete with the media and hype things up more toward the dramatic. I would like to tell them that it's not about them. It's about us, the businesses around New England that rely on the truth. Weekend forecasts are the worst. It's as if the good guys take the weekend off leaving the minions to take over. They never seem to get it quite right. That is my rant for the day.
edited April 5, 2014
Opening day was better than anticipated. Except for being a bit cold, the weather was perfect. Sunny cloudless skies started the day with light wind and temperatures in the low 40°s. Business was steady during the day and right out straight after 6:00 PM. No records were broken in either food or drink. But we got close in both categories. The whole family (except Mom) was there including some of the nicest regular customers we see. I was delighted to see Meg working the floor. Court stayed and closed. Cathy worked the crowd. Also included were a few regular customers whom we never seen on opening day. So it was extra special for me. And, hopefully, the feeling was mutual throughout. Thanks so much for the great complement of just being there! Our father, Billy, would have really enjoyed this day.
edited April 3, 2014
So ends the coldest winter we have seen in Ogunquit for over twenty years. I'm sure we have had colder and snowier winters in the past. But we have had such warm winters during the previous years, this one seemed like an anomaly. It was a great year for skiers, albeit a bit too cold at times. For my part, I haven't put on the boards for the last three years. I used to love skiing but a lot has been going on.
Despite the weather, our capital projects were completed as planned. We still have work left to do at Barnacle Billy's, Etc. but we have a month left to complete those projects. And these unfinished items are going along as planned. I was most happy about all the work that Jack Ladderbush has completed. I had a list of sixteen or so projects (some detailed, some small) which I went over with him in the fall. I asked him if he wanted the list. No, was his reply. He remembered every one. The fact that he knows the buildings better than anyone and that he can remember all that is just amazing to me. And maybe he was just anticipating the same projects that we both knew needed to be completed. Whatever, Barnacle Billy's is glad Jack Ladderbush is around.
Atlantic Mechanical finished the new retaining wall (on the Cove side of patio at Barnacle Billy's, Etc.) a week earlier than the drop dead date of March 30. They did a wonderful job. Larry Paul, the president of the company, did everything exactly as he said he would, even better. And he was very easy to work with along with coming under budget. We are at the point now where Jack Ladderbush will put a finishing cap on the wall. John Patten will get the patio back in order. And we will probably be contracting Dumas Welding to install a stainless steel high polish rail on the finishing cap. I haven't received the quote from Dumas Welding as of yet. But he usually is well inside of the budget with all the past projects he has done for us and my deep sea fishing boat, the Bunny Clark. The work Dumas Welding does is flawless.
This last week has been busy. My brother, Court, has been right out straight getting Barnacle Billy's in shape for the opening at 11:00 AM on Friday. Everything has been late, including getting water into the building. But the water is on now, I just got the crab order in, all the managers are right out straight getting menus up, product in and the place spruced up a bit. We should be ready to go this afternoon. And I can't wait. As I told Steve & Karen Baldwin, this is the best time of year for me; the beginning of the year and knowing it will be a long time before we close for the season! I'll see you there!
edited January 29, 2014
After a small warming trend last weekend, we went back into the deep freeze. Just before the freeze up, Central Maine Power was down, with the help of Bridges Electric, and changed the weather head where the wires lead into Barnacle Billy's (original). In July of 2012 CMP had broken the weather head when their bucket truck caught the wires and pulled them off the building. I realized at the time (we lost our power on that July day) that the wires had been pulled off and were re-installed but I was not knowledgeable enough to realize that they had broken the weather head at the same time.
I have been getting everyone together for our CPR/AED/First Aid recertification. This is something we go through every two years. All the managers and a couple of our most important employees (Chris Dunn & Taryn Barstow) will be taking the all day course at B.B's, Etc on February 6th.
I have also been working on getting a company in here to replace our retaining wall and the rail on the garden patio at Barnacle Billy's, Etc. Over the years, the patio area has been undermined and the soil is ending up in Perkins Cove. This is making it a potentially dangerous place for our dining guests in the future. Yes, we could probably get away with it for a couple more years. But I'm concerned about the future economic climate at a time when we may not be able to budget a project like this.Yesterday, I worked all day on securing a company (which I had been in contact with a few weeks ago), going through referrals, checking up on past work, etc., etc. and then bringing our carpenter and lawns manager into the fold on this project. We may be able to get the job done before April 1, leaving the rest to the carpenters at the end of March or early April. We shall see.
I was informed yesterday that the new windows for the dining room, kitchen and lounge in Barnacle Billy's, Etc. have arrived. So we will be involved in changing those out in the following two weeks. I have had a capital projects list going for a few years now that includes changing a few windows out a season. One more season, next winter, we will have the last of the windows replaced - hopefully.
We have other projects going on but I may get to them in future Journal Updates.
In the meantime, I've enjoyed a lot more time in the office with my sister, Cathy, and Dawn Baston (our rock in the operations department). Sarah Yorke, our other book keeper has been out with a flu for the last week and a half.
Summer is coming and it is closer than it seems even though looking out the window I see an arctic wasteland. I am very much looking forward to those warm summer breezes, steamed clams and hot boiled lobster. How about you, Robin & Laura Lee?
edited January 17, 2014
The winter routine is upon us. We passed our liquor/fire inspection for both restaurants yesterday. Court and I went through the restaurants with the fire department representatives and Ogunquit's new Code Enforcement Officer, Scott, a real nice guy.
There have been relatively few snow storms this winter, three major ones and one smaller one, all of which where, after, we had to shovel snow. One struck on the highest tide of the winter. But the wind direction hauled out of the north much quicker than expected. This gave us a little splash over into the parking lot but kept the tide low enough so that it didn't compromise the dining area of Barnacle Billy's (original). For the last week we have had mild weather with high temperatures in the 40s almost every day.
Jack Ladderbush completed the new ceiling at Barnacle Billy's (original). When he was done, Mike from Bridges Electric rewired the lighting to code. You won't notice any difference I believe. The new ceiling will match the ceiling we put in new a couple of years ago on the other side of the dining room.
The varnish work was completed on the stairs at Barnacle Billy's, Etc. I had them strip the hand rails, re-stain them and put four coats of varnish to finish them. It came out better than it has looked in years.
Other than that we have been regrouping, figuring out employee status for the coming season, Cathy has been paying the bills and we are looking forward to completing the rest of the projects planned for the winter.
edited December 24, 2013
It has been a roller coaster ride for my family and I at Barnacle Billy's since the end of July. On August 22, 2013, a local fisherman and close family friend, Billy McIntire, was lost at sea after he took his boat out of Perkins Cove that night. Billy's body was never recovered even though the incident happened within a mile from shore. Needless to say, closure for family and friends was not attained in the manner with which all would have liked. Knowing Billy as I did, I'm sure he would have preferred leaving the earth in this way, although not at fifty-one years young.
Barnacle Billy's, Inc. ended the season in good shape, our second best season since our best one last year. The significant feature of both years was the lack of rain, warm temperatures and good sunny weather. We thrive on good weather in Ogunquit, a town known for it's seasonal business structure.
The fall/winter season has gone well so far. We have various winter projects going on that require our constant attention. We have had our "Manager's Meeting" where we go over our list of past employees and decide who might be coming back to work for us next summer. Letters to employees have already gone out thanks to my sister, Cathy, and Sarah DeCoste in the office. We are hoping that employees who were missed will contact us if we forgot them on this round. In the meantime, we have new windows to put in at Barnacle Billy's, Etc., painting and varnishing to complete, the garden patio at Etc has to be shorn up (leveled), chairs need to be fixed, shingles need to be replaced, lighting fixtures need to be replaced with new, the outer ceiling in the dining room at Barnacle Billy's (original) is being replaced (the lighting fixtures replaced there at the same time) and many other smaller projects before the season starts. It's always a push to get everything done before the season starts.
The season will begin on April 4, 2014 at Barnacle Billy's (original restuarant). This will be the earliest that we have ever greeted the new season. A few years ago we planned an April 7th opening only to find that the snow and ice were still so thick on the deck that we had to delay the opening a week. Hopefully that will not happen next year!
I am really looking forward to the new season, albeit, without my father. We are all still getting used to that, particularly at this time of year with Christmas and all. But excited we are for the new season to come. My family and I wish you all the happiest and healthiest Christmas and New Year. And I might put aside a pair of gloves for the opening day if I were you. You never know when you might need a barrier between your hands and your rum punch in early April! "Winter Well" as my father would have said. Indeed!
edited July 20, 2013
Billy Tower, father of the four of us (Meg, Court, Cathy and me - Tim) passed away in our mother's arms, Bunny Clark Tower, at 3:00 PM EDT on Tuesday, July 16, 2013, after just getting out of the hospital with pneumonia complications. This after taking a drive through Perkins Cove only moments before leaving us. He died of pulmonary/cardio complications. Of course, Billy Tower will be most known for starting Barnacle Billy's and as one of the most successful fishermen on the Maine coast. But the four of us will remember him as a wonderful father with a wonderful mother. Together they were great parents and the consummate couple. To me they seemed the perfect fit. But, then, I am their son.
It has been an emotional roller coaster ride since his passing. But everything was in place for an eventuality such as this. So we haven't lost a beat at the restaurants. But we have lost a wonderful person who left us with a legacy and a gift. And I have lost a mentor, my best friend and my best man.
No services have been planned, either private or public. This is something he insisted on. Instead, he felt that if you wanted to do something for him he had two charities that he was very much involved in. One was the Marginal Way Preservation Fund. If you would like to donate, you can go to this page and click the "donate" button. The other was the Pan-Mass Challenge, a cycling event that I have been involved in for seven years that raises money for cancer research and care with the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Massachusetts. This link will direct you to my PMC page. If you would rather go to their home page you can click on this page: PMC and donate through me, Tim Tower. I was drawn to this charity years ago because the DFCIis always one of the top five cancer research and care facilities in the country, it's right in our back yard and 100% of every rider raised dollar goes directly to the cause.
Don Carrigan from the TV station WCSH (channel 6) in Portland, Maine contacted me at the restaurant the day after our father died. He wanted to do an interview. I directed the question to my mother who was not prepared at that time. She wanted me to do it. So I informed Don that it would happen, grabbed my brother, Court, to help me do the interview and the cameras rolled. The interview turned into a tribute to Billy Tower that aired on Thursday night, July 18th. This is the link to the tribute. I'm not sure how long this will remain on line.
Lastly I want to thank everyone from our family's deepest hearts for the condolences, support and flowers so many have donated. We all appreciate the kind words, the offers and the kindness you all have shown us. Everything I do reminds me of my father. The ride has been tough. But I know that what he has done for us and the way he did it will stay with us and make us better and stronger for it.