LEWISTON — Six months after reopening to the delight of its fans, Rails restaurant is closing, effective Friday night.

Owner Ileshea Stowe made the announcement Friday afternoon in a Facebook post. The reaction was immediate, with dozens of Rails patrons weighing in to bemoan the loss of their favorite eatery.

Stowe says she feels their pain.

“This is truly a sad moment for me,” she said. “It was a really hard decision. I love this place, this town and serving the public.”

The problem, Stowe said, is staffing, an issue that has vexed bars and restaurants around the state. Turnover within the restaurant industry is so heavy, Stowe said, that some businesses are using signing bonuses as an attempt to lure and keep employees.

She cannot afford to do that, Stowe said.

“Unfortunately,” she said, “I’m not independently wealthy.”

At full staff, Rails employed between 12 and 15 workers.

Rails had seemed to be making a comeback after closing for two weeks in early February.

Stowe acquired ownership of the restaurant from her parents, Claire and Stephen Dick, in January 2017. The restaurant, in the historic former railroad depot at 103 Lincoln St., had been in business since late 2014.

When she posted on Facebook on Friday, Stowe said the closing would be effective immediately.

“Regretfully, after four wonderful years, Rails will be closing its doors on Friday, August 10th,” according to the post. “We are very grateful to everyone who has supported us. Thank you once again for your support.”

Within minutes, customers of the restaurant reacted.

“We are so sad to hear this,” wrote Norm and Barb Beauparlant of Poland. “We have enjoyed many wonderful meals as well as an awesome celebration.”

“I’m so, so sad,” wrote Bonnie Clavette Bannister of Lewiston. “I’ve loved the food and music. You’ll be missed.”

Rails, a high-end restaurant on Lincoln Street in Lewiston, announced Friday that it would close for good at the end of the day. (Sun Journal file photo)

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