A Camden restaurant in its 10th year of operation is switching to a new business model as the spread of coronavirus expands in Maine.

Josh Hixson, executive chef and owner of 40 Paper on Washington Street, announced March 16 that he is temporarily closing restaurant and bar service, and launching a new takeout and delivery venture, Knox Mill Take Out, March 18.

The need to care for the town's large senior population as well as staff in high-risk categories is driving the change to stop offering an open dinner service, which is an environment where coronavirus could "easily spread among our guests," he said.

Knox Mill Take Out will offer dishes inspired by items customers love at 40 Paper, but also will feature new dishes and larger portion family-style meals, meant to feed a couple people at once, or one person over several meals, he said.

On March 16, Hixson said he is putting finishing touches on the new menu, as well as shifting hours of service. The new menu and hours will be posted on the restaurant's Facebook page and Instagram.

While closing the dining room and bar still involves temporarily laying off some staff, "it will allow us to cover ongoing expenses, keep doing what we love, and endure until this crisis passes," he said.

Hixson realizes the new venture is a departure from 40 Paper's mission to connect with the community through great food and foster relationships with guests, but it became "obvious that staying open without any changes to our business model is more damaging and potentially reckless."

"Though we can't be the community gathering hub that we have been, we can still feed the community," he said.

He noted that Massachusetts and New York have closed all restaurants and bars and the Center for Disease Control is now recommending restaurants across the nation do the same.

filed under: