Drifters Wife, a Portland restaurant twice named among Bon Appetit's Top 50 new restaurants nationwide, has decided to close permanently because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Credit: Richard Drew | AP

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A renowned Portland restaurant that has drawn praise from both Bon Appetit magazine and the James Beard Foundation announced Friday that it is closing permanently due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The owners of Drifters Wife, Orenda and Peter Hale, posted a message on the restaurant’s Facebook page saying that the decision was difficult. Drifters Wife opened for business in 2016.

“After 5 years in business, as of last fall, we were finally debt free,” they wrote. “Now, just months into the Covid pandemic, that is no longer the case. We need to adapt to what is happening in the world right now.”

The couple said they intend to hang on to the restaurant space at 59 Washington Avenue but need to “re-imagine what’s inside.” They will continue to offer “contact-free, curbside pick-up” at their adjacent wine shop, Maine & Loire.

“When the time is right and it’s safe, we will open the doors to the shop and to this new space: a space with you, all, in mind, where we can gather closely with loud music, and share a drink. Or many,” they wrote.

Attempts Saturday to contact the Hales were unsuccessful.

Drifters Wife was named among Bob Appetit’s 50 Best New Restaurants nationwide in 2016 and again in 2018, and received numerous recommendations from outlets such as Conde Nast Traveler, Wine Enthusiast, Vogue, the Washington Post, Zagat and others.

Just this past February, Drifters Wife Chef Ben Jackson was nominated among other Maine chefs as a semifinalist for the James Beard Foundation’s “Best Chef Northeast” award.

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Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....