BIDDEFORD — In the mood for colcannon with a good steak or some seafood? How about bangers and mash — or a pint of Guinness or Smithwick’s?
Or maybe it is a night for tacos or a burrito?
Soon, people craving either — or both — can partake when the Dunn Bar and Sublime Taco each open in the Washington Street building in Biddeford that until about a year ago was called the Wonderbar.
The two eateries share one kitchen — Sublime Taco, a California-inspired street taco and Mexican restaurant, is leasing space from Dunn Bar. Each restaurant seats 55 customers.
Doug Darby and Ciel Caldwell purchased the 12 Washington St. property in 2021. On a recent day, they, along with Steve Siders and Kaitlyn Gaudreau, owners of Sublime Taco, snipped the ribbon in a celebration organized by the Biddeford Saco Chamber of Commerce.
“It’s been a long haul through construction,” said Darby. “A lot of great people helped and now we’re hoping we’ve crossed every hurdle.” Darby and Caldwell are hoping for an early June opening.
The Dunn Bar is named for Darby, who learned his family name had been Dunn before it was changed when his ancestors emigrated to the United States.
The Dunn Bar motto is “let the food be fresh and the spirits aged.”
Darby and Caldwell plan to offer fresh seafood from SoPo Seafood, located in a local mill building, house cheddar from Nibblesford, a specialty cheese store just across the street, ground beef from Pineland Farms, coffee from Time and Tide and the like.
“It’s about good, fresh food,” said Caldwell.
While traditional Irish beer and spirits are offered, an array of local brews will be on tap as well.
The Dunn Bar has a cozy, warm feel inside. It has been refurbished but there are nods to the past, like an array of framed Wonderbar menus and a sign.
The location had previously been owned by the Droggitis family for decades — it was once a shoe repair shop, became Charlie’s Cafe in 1935 and later the Wonderbar, owned by brothers Jimmy, Alex, Archie, and Charlie Droggitis. They sold the restaurant in 1982 and it went through a couple of owners until Vince Keely purchased it in 1992. Keely sold the property to Darby and Caldwell a year ago.
Sublime Taco has its own Washington Street entrance. Owners Siders and Gaudreau said they too hope to open soon. Sublime Taco had been located on Main Street for about three years, but outgrew the space, said Siders.
Caldwell and Darby also have plans for the second story of the 12 Washington St. building. They are creating two, three-bedroom apartments and three, two-bedroom apartments, and hope to complete them next year. The couple own about 40 apartment units across the city and are also owners of LaundrYup, a cafe and laundromat on Hill Street.
Jim LaBelle, director of Biddeford-Saco Chamber of Commerce, said he is glad to see the evolution of the landmark.
“Biddeford’s recent transformation has been especially noteworthy when historic buildings, such as this legendary Wonderbar location, are renovated and repurposed with a thoughtful appreciation of its rich past along with new and creative efforts to make this location the next exciting hub in our community for generations to come,” he said.