FREEPORT — More than a month after it was originally scheduled to open in Pownal, The Perfect Spell restaurant found a new location in Freeport and will open Halloween night.

Joseph Richards, left, and Marcus Verrill, restaurateurs behind several brief but popular spots in Auburn and Portland, are opening a new magic-themed dinner theater restaurant in Freeport. Hannah LaClaire/The Times Record

Joseph Richards and Marcus Verrill had to scramble to find a spot for their Harry Potter meets Hocus Pocus meets Practical Magic-themed musical dinner theater restaurant after Pownal town officials denied their change-of-use permit for the intended location at 83 Fickett Road, just days before their intended Sept. 13 opening. First, they expected to open later in September. Then, by Oct.17, Oct. 24 at the latest.

Now, with the proper permits and licensing in place, Verrill and Richards are on track to open the one-year pop-up at 9 Mechanic St. in Freeport, formerly home to Homage Restaurant.

“We are extremely excited to be in this beautiful town and bring life to this amazing space,” they wrote on Facebook.

The only remaining setback? They won’t be able to get their liquor license until December at the earliest, meaning no promised “smoking sangria” for the first few weeks.

“We did fall into a snag with election timing this season and will not be able to get on the November town agenda for liquor licenses,” they wrote in a Facebook post. “However, we feel that the show must go on and we will make do showing you how a craft mocktail can be just as fun.”


The other treats, like truffle macaroni and cheese with torched Cheeto dusting and blueberry compote chicken and waffles, remain on the menu.

Verrill and Richards are refunding hundreds of preordered tickets for the months of September and October and rebooking people for free, with a 10% off dinner coupon, a move that, while necessary, is costing them thousands, they said.

Despite the delay, the Facebook page has over 4,450 followers and people continue to reserve tickets. The restaurant, which is reserving 3,744 seats during its yearlong run, is almost 70% booked. The dinner theater will be upstairs, with a gift shop below.

A master wizard will lead guests to their tables and through a magical evening, with singing and dancing witches and wizards. The evening combines Richards’ love of Harry Potter, Verrill’s love of “Hocus Pocus” and both their loves of “Practical Magic,” they said, but remained relatively tight-lipped about the details so guests stay surprised.

“We want it to feel like a whole other magical world when you walk through the doors,” Verrill said in a previous interview. “We want to pack a powerful punch. We have to go all out.”

While the Pownal location was “quaint and cute,” there were some problems with parking, and the restaurant would have been somewhat of an anomaly for the small town. Now, in the new location, they will be downtown. There is more space and plenty of parking. The pop-up will close Halloween night 2020, but, “It’s such a beautiful building and city that we might just stay here and just change the theme and remodel it all every year,” they wrote in a Facebook comment.


Verrill and Richards have their sights set on a Willy Wonka theme for 2020.

The Perfect Spell intends to be open Thursday through Sunday nights (Thursdays were added partly to accommodate the people who reserved spots for September), with about 30 spots available per night. Anyone interested in tickets should visit the Eeventbrite page.

Marcus Verrill and Joseph Richards could not be reached for comment.

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