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Keep ME Open: After 125 years, The Goldenrod is determined to keep pulling taffy through COVID-19 pandemic

The Maine tourist destination was supposed to be celebrating a big milestone this year, but is instead feeling the effects of coronavirus restrictions.

YORK, Maine — Usually packed shoulder-to-shoulder with tourists, The Goldenrod sits practically empty just one day after the Memorial Day weekend.

"It's really bad. It's really bad. I haven't served a customer today. Last year on this day I served about 1,100," owner Dave Peck said. 

Staff members in masks stand six feet apart at the counter of the antique soda fountain where built-in stools have been removed from their bases, only moving to take the occasional to-go order from a customer. 

The candy store, soda fountain, and restaurant has become an iconic tourist destination for the hundreds of thousands of people who come to York Beach year after year. 

Believed to be the oldest continuous running restaurant in the state, The Goldenrod was set to celebrate its 125th anniversary this summer with a series of special events, but now its team is just focused on making it to 126. 

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"Nobody left me a playbook," Peck said. "What happened during these other pandemics or during the Great Depression."

Peck said he has received some federal money through the Paycheck Protection Program, but said it is likely to expire before he is able to open his dining room and hire back full waitstaff.

In the candy shop, signs on the floors remind visitors to stand apart and the flow of customers is heavily controlled. 

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Peck said it has been hard to get people to order takeout, despite setting up an online system, because they are not able to get the full sit-down experience.

What is still going strong is the business's famous salt water taffy production. Online orders continue to come in to be shipped all over the country. 

"That's kinda keeping us a little bit in the ballgame but we're down a lot of runs in the late innings," Peck said. 

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With June just a week away, Peck and other local business owners are cautiously hopeful that with hotels being able to accept guests come the first of the month, their business will see a boost. 

At this point he is willing to take whatever he can get. 

"We're going to figure it out," Peck said. 



At NEWS CENTER Maine, we're focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the illness. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: www.newscentermaine.com/coronavirus

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