Jeremy Barnies serves Diane and Donald Gagne on Tuesday at Governor’s Restaurant in Lewiston. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

In this week’s Extra Buzz, Jason Clay, the newly announced owner of Governor’s Restaurant & Bakery group in Maine and a longtime employee, discusses business success and challenges. He purchased the five restaurants from the Wadleigh family, who founded Governor’s Restaurant in 1959. The sale becomes effective May 22.

Who will take your place/role?

We haven’t announced that yet, so it would be premature to comment, but we have a strong senior leadership team that will see multiple people contribute.

Do you plan any significant changes to any of the locations in the near future?

We have a very strong time-tested brand, and I’ve been operating the businesses for several years already. While change is inevitable, there is nothing major on the horizon.

How are the restaurants doing three years after the COVID-19 pandemic, and is there anything you changed or learned from it that you still do?


We have been blessed by loyal guests and great team members, and are dealing with many of the challenges all businesses are seeing now, including inflated costs of goods, energy, supply chain issues and labor challenges. While we inch back closer to pre-pandemic operations, there are fundamental changes that will be in the business for sure.

While we did takeout and third party delivery before, that part of the business seems to be here to stay.

There are things we used to do like serving our full breakfast menu all day that we just can’t execute without overwhelming our team. And we’ve gotten much better working around staffing challenges and pacing our business level to what our team can handle on a particular shift. Sometimes that means we can’t seat the entire dining room, and most guests now understand it provides them a better experience to wait a little longer before a table is available to them.

Staffing is a challenge to most of the hospitality industry, so how big a factor is it for Governor’s?

Ultimately our people are our greatest challenge and opportunity. We are lucky to have a great core to build from. We’ve also invested a lot in retaining them through the last couple of years, by providing competitive pay and more opportunities for benefits. We’ll keep doing that, and try to add to our team.

We’re blessed to be in better shape than many in our industry, but we’re always looking to hire those looking for more opportunity. I’m proud that all our restaurant general managers started with our company as servers, cooks, cashiers and have taken advantage of the opportunities to run their own stores. The future is bright for our company and our people.

Governor’s Restaurant & Bakery locations are in Bangor, Ellsworth, Lewiston, Old Town, Presque Isle and Waterville.

The Buzz offers quick hits about trending area business happenings. Have a Buzzable tip? Contact business writer Christopher Wheelock at 689-2817 or

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