PORTLAND, Maine — A staple of Portland's East End is closing.

Silly's owner Colleen Kelley announced Wednesday on Facebook that the restaurant would be shutting its doors for good Sept. 1.

Kelley said she and her sister have already sold the buildings at 40 Washington Ave., calling it "the hardest decision" she has "ever had to make."

Silly's was first opened by Deirdre and Stephanie Nice in July 1988, just three blocks south of its current address. That building, 147 Cumberland Ave., is now home to Union Bagel Co. It made the move to Washington Avenue in 1997.

The Nice sisters, who prior to Silly's operated Prouts Neck Variety, told Kelley they became inspired to start the restaurant after a trip to Jamaica in 1987. While there, they discovered jerk chicken and an eatery called Bongo Cily's – the last part named after a woman – and brought ideas back to Portland.

A month later, they signed a lease at the Cumberland Avenue property, costing them just $125 a month in rent. And while house-sitting for actor Gary Merrill in Falmouth, they recalled Cily's in Jamaica, and Silly's was born.

Kelley took over the restaurant in November 2002.

In her post, Kelley offers her appreciation for those who helped during her 17 years as owner, and also bemoans the city of Portland's recent development.

The restaurant requires her to consistently thrive, Kelley wrote, and that full-time exhaustion coupled with her trying to look over her ailing father is too much.

Additionally, Kelley said her managers and staff have done a lot to keep the business afloat, but that doing business with the city has also worn her out.

Kelley then goes on to describe how she feels the East End neighborhood's Washington Avenue area has become, calling it "hipster artisan," and the city in general as destined to be an East Coast version of Seattle.

She backed up her viewpoints as opinion, making clear they weren't slams.

"I don't want anything but wonderful things for Portland, Maine," Kelley said. "I have enjoyed many years here. However, I am a fat woman who serves fat, over-portioned food and I won't charge $24 for 4 ounces of dip and some pita bread served by a person that said to me, 'take your time, I get paid by the hour.'"

"I want to make all my own food, not be a part of a restaurant group and serve whatever a portion I want to for a decent price with people who want to do the same," she said. "I can't do that in my current situation, so before I lose the business, I am going to bow out gracefully of the new hipster artisan Washington Avenue that I really don't fit into anymore and spend my time taking care of my father. I didn't get to do it with my mother who died in March; I went to work the day after it happened, and I won't make that mistake again. It isn't healthy."

For Silly's regulars, there's still some hope. Kelley writes that it may not all be over, hinting at the possibility of opening up at another location, in Portland or someplace else, or even as a food truck. She said she's open to suggestions.

"I appreciate everything from everyone so much, the kindness, the well wishes, sticking with me during construction, snow storms, hours changing, fires, heat waves, equipment breakage, no staff…well just everything," she said.

"I have been so fortunate and blessed and enjoyed every minute of it. Silly's has been the love of my life and always will be … Thank you for everything."

Silly's will officially close at 4 p.m. on Sunday of Labor Day Weekend.

Sillys-post
Silly's Facebook post on Aug. 21, 2019
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