Bocce is on tap at The Jack

Eat, drink and play at the Knox Mill's new restaurant
By Susan Mustapich | Nov 06, 2018
Photo by: Susan Mustapich Bocce courts, food and drink are featured at The Jack, recently opened at 43 Mechanic St., in the Knox Mill.

CAMDEN — The Jack, a comfortable, casual restaurant and bar with bocce courts, is something new in Camden's Knox Mill building and the Midcoast.

Owner Caleb Lachance opened The Jack just two weeks ago, offering 15 beers on tap, cocktails and wines, and a menu with lots of flavors. The food is "fun, casual and easily approachable, like the game of bocce," Lachance said, and is made so it can be eaten at a table, or while playing the game.

The diverse menu offers must-have cravings like fried pickles, onion rings, wings and mini-corn dogs; Asian-, Italian-, Mexican- and Cuban-inspired skewers, sliders and tacos;  Greek ribs, classic comfort food and pizzas. The menu features beef, chicken, pork, fish and vegetarian items, as well as desserts and soft drinks.

Lachance discovered his love of cooking at the Mid-Coast School of Technology. He found inspiration there, and was encouraged by a friend whom he cooked with. He has expanded his knowledge and techniques working in restaurants ever since.

When the opportunity to open his own place at the Knox Mill opened up, it connected with ideas he was cooking up, and his desire to "bring life to the space and reinvent it."

"It's about offering people a place to hang out in a casual atmosphere, affordable and family-friendly, but also a late-night scene for people who want to socialize and play games," he said.

 

The rectangular restaurant space also turns out to be a perfect place to lay out the long, narrow bocce courts, where a centuries-old game now seeing a revival in popularity can be played by two to eight people.

"Bocce came naturally to the space," Lachance said, and tied in with his desire to "do something that Camden and the whole Midcoast would benefit from."

 

The warm floor-level lighting around the courts helps create a comfortable feeling, while the spacious area affords plenty of room to walk around to the bar and tables near the entrance, or the tables set along the windows overlooking the mill's waterfall and sluiceway outside.

 

The menu spells out the simple rules of bocce. The game focuses around a small, white ball, called "the jack," which is the first ball to be thrown, underhand, down the court. Individuals or teams then compete to throw their colored bocce balls so they roll and land closest to the jack.

 

Around 4:30 p.m. Nov. 3, Robin Sebold and Rutley Chalk were trying out the bocce court, while another group across the floor was playing a game of cornhole. The bar was filling up as it edged towards early evening.

Sebold and Chalk have played bocce before in southern Maine, where they lived until last year, and were happy to find they could go out and play the game in Camden, which is now their hometown. Sebold, who grew up in Camden, likes "that you can get something to eat, socialize and there's something to do."

As the evening warmed up inside The Jack, the bocce courts were in play, people were eating dinner at their tables, hanging out at the bar, and signing up for a game, Lachance said.

The Jack is located at 43 Mechanic St., and is open Tuesday through Sunday. Dinner is served from 4 to 9 p.m.. The bar is open weekdays until 11 p.m. and to 1 a.m. weekends. The telephone number is 236-3626.

Owner Caleb Lachance, right, and his girlfriend, Michaela Poor, recently opened The Jack in Camden. (Photo by: Susan Mustapich)
The floor-lit bocce courts inside The Jack create a unique setting inside the new restaurant and bar. (Photo by: Susan Mustapich)
Robin Sebold, left, and Rutley Chalk try out a game of bocce at The Jack in Camden. (Photo by: Susan Mustapich)
Bocce quiz: who won, red or black? (Photo by: Susan Mustapich)
(Photo by: Susan Mustapich)
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