Perfecto's Caffe in downtown Kennebunk. Credit: Donna Buttarazzi | York County Coast Star

Perfecto’s Caffe, a popular coffee shop and gathering spot in downtown Kennebunk, abruptly closed its doors over the weekend, leaving loyal customers, nearby business owners and town officials stunned.

Manager Dave Rossiter posted a message on the Perfecto’s Facebook page Sunday morning announcing the closing.

“Sorry for the bad news but we are permanently closed. My staff and I cannot thank you all enough for the incredible support we have received from this community these past [seven] years, most especially during this difficult time. Thank you all and hope to see you around town,” Rossiter’s post read.

The previous Saturday, Sept. 17, Perfecto’s was closed with a sign on the door saying it was due to a staffing shortage, but it reopened the following day with no hint toward the permanent shutdown to come.

Community members in town over the weekend posted on social media that they saw moving trucks hauling ovens and other kitchen equipment away, leaving customers shocked and saddened.

“People are clearly sad to see something like Perfecto’s go in the heart of downtown,” said Kennebunk-Kennebunkport-Arundel Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Laura Dolce. “It became a community gathering space over the years, and it drew people in, and drew people to the downtown.”

Before Perfecto’s came to town seven years ago, that space was the office for the York County Coast Star, when Dolce was a reporter, and later editor for the paper.

“Leaving that office space was hard, so it was nice to see it come to life after the Coast Star left there. It is certainly a loss,” she said.

Perfecto’s Caffe Kennebunk was part of a chain started in Andover, Massachusetts in 1993 by brothers Andrea and Max Gabriello. The Kennebunk location opened seven years ago. Perfecto’s owners could not be reached for comment prior to going to press.

Town Manager Mike Pardue and interim Economic Development Director Jim Black had no advance knowledge that Perfecto’s was closing.

“This came as a surprise and certainly a great disappointment,” Pardue said. “It was a cornerstone and a meeting place and a place to connect. Our hope is that there will be an entity that will come in and provide something that will serve the community.”

While Dolce hopes a food service business fills the Perfecto’s spot, she encourages people to take the opportunity to try several other local places offering coffee, and breakfast and lunch fare such as Boulangerie, Morning’s in Paris, Coffee Roasters of the Kennebunks, Table of Seven, All Day Breakfast and others.

“There are a lot of places that people maybe haven’t discovered yet, and I hope they will find their way to other places that are also really family friendly and can be great gathering spots,” she said.

Real estate signs are plastered across the front windows, and Pardue said there has already been “quite a bit of activity.”

“It’s a wonderful setting. I have a sense it will fill quickly,” Pardue said.

At Tuesday’s Board of Selectmen meeting Chairman Dick Morin noted Perfecto’s closing and said he was concerned about Main Street.

“We are all saddened by the closing of one of our small businesses, as well as a handful of others in the past few months. It’s time to get back to the business of figuring out what we want to be when we grow up,” Morin said. “We need to get back to the business of strategic planning. I’m concerned about Main Street. I believe we are not going in the right direction.”