Chloe Coombs delivers food car-side on Fat Boy’s opening day in May. Hannah LaClaire / The Times Record

BRUNSWICK— Grab your coats and mittens, Fat Boy fans— the iconic Brunswick drive-in diner will be open this winter for the first time in its 60-plus-year history. 

Mike Jerome, who purchased Fat Boy Drive-In this spring, told the Brunswick Town Council that the restaurant will close Oct. 31 for some much-needed kitchen, electrical and plumbing work, but that doors will reopen not long after.

When they do, Jerome hopes to be able to offer even more than car-side burgers, onion rings and frappes.

On Monday, the council approved a liquor license for Fat Boy.

When the restaurant reopens this winter, Jerome said car-side service will continue, but for those who are so inclined, there will be a heated tent where patrons can have beer, wine and other drinks, as well as food from Fat Boy, or delivered from Jerome’s other restaurants, Portland Pie and Bolo’s Kitchen Cantina and Candlepin. Alcohol may not be consumed outside of the tent. 

Next to the tent, he plans to build an ice rink. 

“During COVID and during the summer, the key to success was outdoor dining,” Jerome said, and maintaining that in the winter will be tricky for many businesses. 

The tent, equipped with heaters and lights, will create roughly 50 seats in a more open air situation than a restaurant, and with the delivery options, serve as “another solution to the seating issue” at Jerome’s other establishments. He will keep 25 employees on to run the site.  Patrons will be able to eat and drink, ideally within view of the ice rink.

The rink, he said, came about in response to the closure of Bowdoin College’s Sidney J Watson Arena to the public for youth hockey.

“It’s an outdoor activity which I think people are going to need right now,” he said, especially since it will be local and free. Skate rentals will not be available. 

The details are still being worked out, but Jerome envisions the ice being open on the weekends, used for youth hockey in the mornings, open to the public for free skate in the afternoon and early evening and for three-on-three adult hockey at night. More details will be available as it gets closer. 

Christopher Watkinson, a Brunswick town councilor, noted that Fat Boy is a “longstanding pillar of Brunswick” and said he is “happy to see where it’s going.”

The winter hours, tent and ice rink mark a new era for a restaurant that until recently, felt frozen in time. 

Even staying open until Halloween marks a change in the status quo. Decades ago, Fat boy would stay open through late October, but more recently the business always closed over Columbus Day weekend.

In the last few years, as more employees have gone back to school or moved on after the summer months, that date started to creep up earlier and earlier, until last year, previous and longtime owners Ken and Jeanne Burton closed up shop for the season on Labor Day.

It didn’t reopen until late April, when Jerome purchased the diner from the Burton family, a year and a half after they put it on the market. 

Despite the coronavirus pandemic and the then-active prohibitions on indoor dining, Jerome said it was the perfect time to buy and run a business like Fat Boy, which is based on the very idea of eating within the comfort of your car. 

Plus, he said at the time, it would help bring “some normalcy and some excitement” to Brunswick during a tumultuous and difficult year. 

Since reopening, he’s worked to keep the original feel and flavor of the beloved local landmark, but expanded the menu and made some modern upgrades, such as accepting credit cards and curating a strong social media presence.


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