2017-09-22 / Community News

Anjon’s will not be sold; updates on the menu

By Michael Kelley Staff Writer


Anjon’s owner John DiSanto decided to retain ownership of the restaurant after putting it on the market nine months ago. He will update the restaurant to include something customers have requested for years: an second-floor, outdoor deck overlooking the marsh. (Michael Kelley photos) Anjon’s owner John DiSanto decided to retain ownership of the restaurant after putting it on the market nine months ago. He will update the restaurant to include something customers have requested for years: an second-floor, outdoor deck overlooking the marsh. (Michael Kelley photos) In 2016 restaurant owner John DiSanto had placed his family’s restaurant Anjon’s on the market in an effort to switch his focus and launch his line of tomato sauces nationwide.

Unable to locate a buyer, DiSanto, decided to pull the restaurant off the market and update it instead.

“We were going to sell, but we couldn’t find a buyer. Actually I am glad it didn’t happen. That’s my career. I’ve been here for 40 years. It is what I love. I love Anjon’s. I love the business. I love the people. I love the state of Maine. We got a unique location,” said DiSanto, whose grandparent’s Ann and John DiSanto opened the restaurant in 1957 based on recipes Ann used in Nola, Italy, a small community northeast of Naples.

DiSanto said he has investors to ramp up sauce production and help distribute it to grocery and food stores across the country.

With the property pulled off the market and a renewed focus on the restaurant, DiSanto said he got his creative juices flowing to “find ways to make the restaurant truly unique and give people an experience they’ll like.”

That means a lot of changes will be happening at the restaurant.

“We are putting in an outside deck on the second floor, putting in a glass elevator, putting in a martini/wine bar on the second floor and renovating the restaurant to meet current trends,” he said.

DiSanto said customers have pleaded with him to add a deck so they could enjoy the views of the salt marsh across the street. The bar upstairs, which will have espresso, wine, martinis and local drafts and take the place of bathrooms and an underused coatroom, will allow the restaurant to better hold functions in that space. Currently people have to go to the downstairs bar to get a drink.

“It’s what I think people want,” he said. “This will be truly a memorable dining experience. You’ll go to Anjon’s and think you’re at Caesar’s Palace. The town, the state and the community want something nice.”

The potential sale of the restaurant he has owned since 1983 was not the only thing on DiSanto’s mind in 2016. Last year the Maine Revenue Service accused DiSanto of not paying a portion of sales tax to the state over the years. DiSanto said the issue stems from a divorce 10 years ago that left him with almost nothing. He began being late on payments and interests and penalties began adding up.

“They took legal action and it is their right to do so,” he said.

The issue has been addressed, he said, and the state “has been gracious and accommodating in working out a repayment plan.”

“Things are on the uptick. We all make mistakes in life, not intentionally, sometimes things just get away from you,” he said.

The agreement with the state, and help from investors for the upcoming restaurant work, has allowed DiSanto to move forward with his renewed vision for his restaurant.

“They have agreed to a payment plan I can live with and keep Anjon’s going and keep 30 employees employed year-round,” he said.

With that resolved, DiSanto is looking toward the future and hopes to get work at the restaurant started this spring and completed by June.

Planning Director Jay Chace said he has yet to hear, or see, DiSanto’s plans for an updated Anjon’s.

“Without knowing what they are proposing, I couldn’t speak to (the process). If they are doing an addition, it could trigger site plan review or even zoning board of appeals,” he said.

Staff Writer Michael Kelley can be reached at news@scarboroughleader.com.

Return to top