2016-04-07 / Front Page

Restaurateur finalizes lease for Steer N Stein space

By Ben Meiklejohn
Staff Writer

BIDDEFORD — The owner of Jimmy the Greek’s restaurants in Old Orchard Beach and South Portland has finalized a 10-year lease to operate a restaurant at 140 Main St. – the same location where Steer N Stein was expected to open this year before Harold Royals, who received a $125,000 loan from the Biddeford-Saco Area Economic Development Corporation, defaulted.

Royals is now being sued by the corporation. See “Lawsuit details how Steer N Stein loan money was spent” in the March 24 issue of the Courier for a listing of nearly $20,000 in various expenditures Royals made in an apparent personal spending spree. The expenditures were included in bank statements contained in the case file.

Steve Ebling, owner of the building, said the new restaurant will be similar to what was intended to be there with Steer N Stein.

“(Jim Albert) has owned a number of different restaurants,” Ebling said. “It’s going to be great for the area and he’s going to use the configuration that’s already there.

“It’s going to complement all the other restaurants in the area. People don’t eat at the same place every time. It will bring in more and more people downtown instead of them going to the Old Port.”

Ebling said Albert’s professionalism and experience as a restaurateur will likely make the new burger joint a success.

Albert said the restaurant will not be named Jimmy the Greek’s and its new name has not been decided.

“The theme will be focused on high-end burgers, including grass-fed, and local craft brews,” Albert said. “As is my track record, I intend on being involved with the community and the continued evolution of the downtown area.”

Jimmy the Greek’s sponsors a number of fundraisers throughout the year, including an annual run, the Frozen 4-Miler, which benefits Send a Kid to Camp through the Old Orchard Beach Recreational Department and Boys and Girls Club Alumni Association Scholarship.

Albert said he is also reaching out to Biddeford-Saco Area Economic Development Corporation to work out an agreement to pay for the limited equipment that was seized or left over at the space as part of the corporation’s recovery of assets for the defaulted Steer N Stein loan.

Ebling said the kitchen had not been finished by Steer N Stein, and Albert will install a full cooking area while using the space as it was renovated by Royals.

Heart of Biddeford Executive Director Delilah Poupore said the new restaurant will be a positive addition to downtown, especially after Royals defaulted on his Steer N Stein loan.

“I can see why (Albert) chose that location,” Poupore said. “(Jimmy the Greek’s) has a reputation for having a really lively atmosphere. It’s a successful establishment and I think it’s a good time to rebuild trust in the downtown and the progress that’s happening here.”

Part of the $125,000 loan from the economic development corporation to Steer N Stein included $20,000 from the city’s Community Block Development Grant funds.

City Manager James Bennett said the corporation is working with Biddeford to ensure the $20,000’s return.

“Nothing is finalized, but I’m reasonably confident that we’re going to get all that,” Bennett said. “We’re going to find that (the defaulted loan) has no expense to the taxpayers.”

As for the new restaurant’s lease signing, Bennett said, “If it’s anything like the other (Jimmy the Greek’s) restaurants, it’s great news.”

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