Cleonice is closing permanently at the end of the month. The Mediterranean bistro in Ellsworth is open its regular hours for December, will offer its last annual Feast of the Seven Fishes tasting menu from December 16 - 20, and will serve its final meals on December 31. Owners Rich and Cary Hanson announced the regrettable news via the company's Facebook page yesterday (see the full text at the bottom of this piece).
Rich is a two-time James Beard semifinalist for Best Chef Northeast. The Ellsworth American has more from the Hansons on their twelve-and-a-half year old business, which merged with The Maine Grind cafe last year.
"'When we opened the restaurant in 2002, folks told us that Ellsworth wasn't ready for us, that we could never sell octopus or other more adventurous food,' the Hansons recalled. 'Octopus continues to be a staple of our ever-changing menu, and the squid has become our emblem.'
'We have been privileged to work with some of the most talented chefs, bartenders and servers in Maine,' the Hansons said. 'We are proud of the fact that six of our former employees have opened restaurants and bakeries in the area. Our staff from over the years has become an extended family to us and our relationships with them are dear to us. We are hoping to help our current employees find positions in the area.'"
When the bistro shutters, The Maine Grind will also be closed for a time, though the owners said there's a chance it will reopen.