Steve Roop looks out a window in June in the tasting room at his store on Main Street in Lewiston. Roop, 63, died overnight Tuesday. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal file photo

LEWISTON — Steve Roop, the hard-charging entrepreneur behind Roopers beverage chain, died overnight Tuesday. He was 63.

Roop spoke with the Sun Journal in June about his business, and how proud he was of the three decades it took for him and his family to create one of the largest privately-owned beverage retail, wholesale and redemption center operations in Maine.

“We broadened the wholesale from Bethel to Belfast and everything in between,” Roop had said. “So we’ve really gained a good reputation on that. I’m enjoying what I’m doing right now.”

Roop was well known for his generosity toward his employees, and that generosity extended well into the community where he has donated to schools, sports teams, nonprofits and many causes he and his wife, Elaine, have touched throughout the years.

Elaine Roop, who is active in the community as her husband was, is serving as chairwoman of the board of directors of the Franco Center. Last year, she was named one of the YWCA of Central Maine’s Women of Achievement, and has served on that board for the past 14 years.

Together, the couple has supported hundreds of charities, leaning toward those that help the mental and physical well-being of children and groups in need, according to her professional profile.


Lewiston police Detective Joe Philippon, who is also one of the department’s community resources officers, said Steve Roop was a “huge” supporter of the community. In particular were several projects undertaken by the Lewiston Police Department to engage the city’s youngsters in music and theater. They included partnerships with the Maine State Music Theatre and the Franco Center. Roop also supported the regular Lewiston Summer & Fun Nights held in many of the city’s parks.

“Honestly, without his dedication and commitment to helping dreamers like myself, there’s a lot of good things in this community that wouldn’t have happened without his support,” Philippon said.

Randy Collins, who owns The Cage, a popular bar on Ash Street, was friends with Roop for 24 years.

“He was such an awesome guy. He was just a wonderful person. I mean I can’t explain it any more than that. He’d do anything for anybody, I’m pretty sure.”

The two became friends when Collins became one of Roop’s wholesale customers. “He was a great guy. He was always good to me,” he said.

Eric Agren, former owner of Fuel in Lewiston’s downtown, became friendly with Roop about 15 years ago when Roopers handled the restaurant’s bar business.


“Steve was very, very positive and boisterous and lit up a room wherever he went. No matter where he went,” Agren said.

The two skied together a lot, Agren said, driving to Sunday River in Newry once a week each winter, spending a half-day skiing. “Even if I was in a bad mood when I’d get into his truck,” Agren said, “I’d be in a great mood in five minutes.”

He had such a “strong, fun personality. He was boisterous, with a fun, happy attitude. He was infectious,” Agren said.

When Roop came to Fuel he would typically sit at the bar, Agren said, and within minutes had everyone at the bar engaged, laughing and smiling.

Mike Dostie, who owns Dostie Jewelers on Lisbon Street, said when “Steve Roop walked into a room the whole room changed, and it changed for the better. He just had this magnetic effect on people. He brought people together and he inspired people and he supported so much in our community. It’s just incredible.”

Dostie called Roop’s death very difficult. “He was such a caring individual, and he supported so many of our community’s good causes.


“I’m just thinking back on every project that I’ve done in the downtown,” Dostie said. “He was a big supporter of everything that we’ve done, and when I was on the board for L/A Arts he was a big friend of the arts. Our paths intersected so many times and not because we were businessmen, but because he was often supporting a cause that I was working on.”

Mike Barriault, president of Central Distributors, said Roop “worked for my dad as a beer sales representative for Central for a few years before opening his first store.  I worked as a truck driver for a few summers, and Steve’s stores were on my route.”

The Barriault and Roop families have known each other for years, he said. “Steve was larger than life, and a great business partner. He will be sorely missed.”

Larry Roop shared news of his brother’s death on Facebook around 2:30 p.m., posting: “Our family is grieving for the loss of my brother Steve this morning. He died peacefully in his sleep at the age of 63.”  And, he wrote, the family is “trying to wrap our heads around it, and appreciate all your support.”

There was immediate support from dozens, and very quickly, more than 100 friends and family members.

Donna Malarsie Norton, a friend who lives in Scarborough, posted: “Such a huge hole in the hearts of so many. To know Steve was to love him.”


Another friend, Vicki Dwyer Brissette who lives in Lisbon, posted that she could “not express how very sorry for your loss, a huge loss for everyone who knew him, always greeted with a smile and a hug.”

Roop opened his first redemption station on Sabattus Street in March 1992, when he was 32 years old, running the place himself. At night, he worked building out what would become his first beer and wine store.

A U.S. Army veteran, he told the Sun Journal that when he opened his first store, he had previously worked as a laborer and salesman at Central Distributors, and “had no idea what I was getting into.”
Two years after opening his first store, he opened his second on Main Street in Lewiston, then a third store in Lisbon. Store No. 4 opened on Minot Avenue in 2004, No. 5 on Lisbon Street opened in 2010. He bought a bigger storefront on Main Street, and opened a store in Oxford in 2016.

Today, Roopers has six retail outlets, four redemption centers and the budding wholesale business, which caters to the hospitality industry.

Roop told the Sun Journal in June that he never thought about retiring, that “Steve Roop is always going to be a part of Roopers.”

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