LISBON — Andre Bonneau said he’s had customers cry at the counter of his sausage store after they learned of his plans to retire from the sausage business.

Andre Bonneau stands at the counter of Maurice Bonneau’s Sausage Kitchen in Lisbon Friday morning. Darcie Moore / The Times Record

Unless someone with the right skill set steps forward soon to take over the Lisbon business, it will shutter. Once supplies run out, which could happen as soon as this week, he’ll close his doors. Bonneau has months to train the right replacement, but not years.

Maurice Bonneau, Andre’s father, started Maurice Bonneau’s Sausage Kitchen on Ridge Road in 1995 and moved the business to Main Street in 2008. Andre Bonneau took over the operation soon after. His father still did the wholesale deliveries and his mother helped run the store part-time.

The roots of the business were laid earlier. Maurice Bonneau’s father Lucien, a butcher, emigrated to Maine from Canada and started Bonneau’s Market in downtown Lewiston in the 1930s. The market was open up until the 1980s.

Traditionally, sausage was made with the meat cuts and scraps for which there was no other use, but Maurice Bonneau wanted to change that.

“My father decided to make a sausage that was made with premium ingredients and not scraps, and that’s why you really can’t find (another) product like this, ” Andre Bonneau said Friday.

Bonneau’s offered more than 50 varieties of sausage. It also sold pork pie, a French Canadian dish.

Several links of sausage line the display cases at Maurice Bonneau’s Sausage Kitchen in this 2017 file photo. Darcie Moore / The Times Record

Bonneau decided last fall to retire, while he and his wife are still healthy. He has worked 60- to 80-hour weeks without vacations. His parents in their 80s, and Bonneau turned 60 earlier this month.

“I’d seen so many of my customers and a few of my friends working and develop poor health, and then decide, ‘I’m not feeling well, I’m going to retire,'” said Bonneau.

Everything was going according to plan when the coronavirus pandemic hit Maine in March.

Bonneau said customers avoiding box stores turned to small food distributors, like his, making a normally slow time of year very busy. More people came into the store and his shipping quadrupled as customers wanted everything delivered to their home.

“As good as these times have been for my business personally, it’s a terrible time to sell a business,” he said. “I have not been able to pass this business on.”

The uncertainty surrounding the pandemic and the economic downturn it sparked has made it more difficult to sell the property and equipment.

Bonneau is excited to launch into retirement but feels for longtime customers upset he is closing shop. He said anyone with the right know-how interested in buying the business to keep it going can reach him at [email protected]


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