Aunt’s Gins restaurant in Whitefield, seen here on Tuesday April 14 2020, had a fire break out Saturday. Investigators are still conducting inquiry into the cause. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file photo Buy this Photo

WHITEFIELD — A fire that broke out in an Augusta Road restaurant early Saturday has closed the restaurant, and the cause remains under investigation.

Wyatt Shorey, a partner in Aunt Gin’s, said Monday he hasn’t seen the extent of the damage, so he said it’s hard to say when or if the restaurant will reopen.

He said his partner Steve Dumas was on site early Saturday when firefighters from seven departments worked to knock down the fire.

“He said the bar area and dining room are pretty well gone,” Shorey said.

Firefighters from Whitefield and seven other area fire departments — Alna, Chelsea, Jefferson, Pittston, Somerville, Togus VA and Windsor — responded to the fire.

Shorey said the business had closed for the evening and no one was there when the fire started.


Investigators from the Maine Office of State Fire Marshal have been on site for a couple of days. A request for information wasn’t immediately answered.

The fire comes just after the restaurant had the best month of business since 2018, he said.

The restaurant employs about 20 people. Shorey and Dumas also own and operate Otto’s on the River, a restaurant on Water Street in downtown Augusta. Both restaurants have been operating with staff shortages, so Shorey said he expects that some employees in Whitefield will go to work at the Augusta restaurant.

A representative of the Maine Department of Labor reached out through the restaurant’s Facebook page on Monday to offer help to employees file for unemployment benefits while the restaurant is closed.

The restaurant, named for Dumas’s aunt Virginia Smith, opened in August 2015 on the busy east-west route that connects Augusta to the coast of Maine.

The following year, the partners announced plans to open Otto’s on the River in a street level space in 275-287 Water St., a building block being redeveloped by Richard Parkhurst, which opened after several delays.

Earlier this year, Aunt Gin’s was among the 65 Maine restaurants who were cited by Maine health authorities for violating public health rules intended to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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