Benjamin’s Set To Expand Into Old Asian Garden Location On Franklin St. In Bangor
Benjamin's, the bar, has been a fixture in the downtown Bangor area since it first opened on Franklin St. in September of 1973.
For most of its first decade of business, Benjamin's occupied both the top and bottom floors of the building. But in 1987, the landlords leased the top area out and it eventually became Panda Garden, and then later Asian Garden.
Clarko Clark, who both had his first beer at Benjamin's and then went on to manage the place in the late '90s, says the bar has changed hands a number of times over the years, and even, sometimes, its name (remember the Phoenix Pub that was open for about a year?) Most recently, however, the space sat vacant.
Clark said the building was eventually sold to Bangor Rentals.
Clark approached the new landlords with the idea to reestablish Benjamin's in the basement space and reopened again in 2019.
In July of 2022, when the Asian Garden closed, Clark got the idea to restore Benjamins to the way it originally was, utilizing both floors.
"Last year the owner of the building we lease from at 123 Franklin street approached us about the Panda Garden Space. Benjamin's occupied both spaces from 1973 to late 1987. I could not resist this awesome opportunity. We are opening Benjamin's Brewer Taproom and Restaurant which as a business will just be an extension of the already successful pub."
"Seemed like a no-brainer."
So Clark got busy hauling all the old restaurant gear out of the building and restoring/renovating it, with the help of his sons, and his wife Amanda, with whom he runs the basement pub.
And ask you can see, that's been no small task.
"It's been quite the process to overhaul the space," Clark said.
They've got most of the big work done to that space, and are now in the process of installing 20 new taps, hanging pictures, and bringing in furniture.
He hopes to open "Benjamins Tap Room and Restaurant" before the end of the year and says he will be in the process of hiring in the near future.
But Clark's sites are set even farther out than just Bangor, recently purchasing the old "Sid Harvey" building in Brewer.
"In Jan of 2021, we purchased the property at 46 Acme Road. This is a shell of a building. 4200 square feet...We are opening a brewery, tasting room, and Pizzaria there."
Clark says the brewery site in Brewer sits on quite a large chunk of land, so he has a grand vision for the place which includes a large outdoor patio and bar, along with an area for cornhole and horseshoes and a place to hold events.
He says that the process of getting the Brewer location put together has taken a bit longer than expected, first because of a shortage of folks to come and do the work needed for the building, and then because they had to shift efforts to the Franklin St. project temporarily, to get that up and going. He'd like to see the brewery, which will consist of 1/3 of the building dedicated to brewing beer, and the rest of the space as the restaurant and tasting area, open sometime next year.
In the meantime, Benjamin's in the basement, while closed for the summer, has reopened as of September 1st, and is open Wednesday through Sunday starting at 5 PM.
You can keep an eye on the progress as it unfolds yourself, by checking in on the Benjamin's Pub Facebook Page.