Umbrellas shield dining tables on the Jordan Pond House lawn in this 2017 file photo. The restaurant has had to close temporarily after one of its staffers tested positive for COVID-19. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

The Jordan Pond House, which is the only restaurant inside Acadia National Park, closed Wednesday after one of its staffers tested positive for COVID-19. 

The situation highlights the effect of rising COVID-19 case levels across Maine during an exceptionally busy season for Acadia National Park, which is on pace to smash its visitation record from 2018.

Already this season, the famous restaurant has been running at reduced capacity as a precaution against the coronavirus’ spread. Its temporary closure comes during a month that’s typically one of the busiest of the year both for the Jordan Pond House and Acadia National Park.

The decision to close temporarily was made “out of an abundance of caution,” said Alicia Cordova, a spokesperson for Ortega National Parks, the private concessioner that runs the restaurant, an adjacent gift shop, and two other gift shops on Cadillac Mountain and at Thunder Hole.

Other employees are being tested for the virus, Cordova said, and the company is working with public health officials and plans to reopen the seasonal restaurant as soon as possible.

“The safety of our guests and employees will remain our top priority,” Cordova said.

The restaurant, which is known for its popovers and outdoor lawn seating overlooking Jordan Pond, is a major draw for visitors to Acadia. The adjacent gift shop remains open. Because of the ongoing pandemic, the restaurant has been offering limited table service on a first-come, first-served basis and has not been taking reservations, according to a pre-recorded outgoing phone message at the restaurant.

As with other employers in Maine, maintaining staff this summer has also been a challenge for the Jordan Pond House. Just hours before the restaurant shut down due to COVID-19, it posted a notice on its Facebook page encouraging people to apply.

There have been 1.95 million visits to Acadia so far in 2021, according to National Park Service statistics. That’s more than 1 million visits greater than the number of visits the park had recorded at this time last year, when the pandemic had significantly slowed the number of tourists traveling to Maine. 

Visitation to Acadia picked up significantly last fall, but not enough to offset losses from earlier in the season. Acadia last year recorded its lowest visit total since 2014.

At the end of July 2018, which proved to be Acadia’s busiest year ever, the national park had recorded an estimated 1.63 million visits at that point of the year — more than 300,000 fewer visits than the first seven months of 2021. Acadia had an estimated 3.53 million total visits for all of 2018.

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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....