Lori Spaulding, owner of Handlebar Saloon in downtown Houlton, pours a beverage for a customer Thursday during lunch. The self-proclaimed "biker bar" is the newest eatery in Houlton's Market Square. Credit: Joseph Cyr / Houlton Pioneer Times

HOULTON, Maine — A Bancroft couple has taken their love of all things motorcycle and turned it into downtown Houlton’s newest dining destination. And it may just be Aroostook County’s first, and only, biker bar.

Located at 23 Market Square, the Handlebar Saloon leans heavily into motorcycle memorabilia — including everything from leather jackets and helmets to motorcycle tanks mounted on the wall.

Even the restaurant’s orange and black color scheme is a tribute to Harley-Davidson.

Although Aroostook County is known for attracting snowmobilers and ATV enthusiasts from all over the country and Canada, it also sees hundreds of motorcyclists traveling its scenic roads during warmer weather and through leaf-peeping season.

“We are the only biker-themed bar in Aroostook, and I think this place is going to be huge,” said owner Lori Spaulding. “We’re so different from other places, and I think once the word gets out, we are going to do great.”

Both Lori and her husband, Ernie, are big motorcycle fans and have been involved with the United Bikers of Aroostook for many years. Her husband has a rich history in the food industry as his grandfather was the owner of Dick’s Diner in Ellsworth.

Lori said she came up with the idea of starting her own restaurant after a recent visit to a job fair in Houlton failed to yield any suitable opportunities.

“Nothing really popped for me at the job fair, so I thought to myself, ‘If I am going to work, I should do something I love,’” Spaulding said. “I’ve cooked at sporting camps in the past, so I have experience in the field. But this is a lot different.”

Giving back to the community is a big focus for the Spauldings, as evidenced by the prices of many foods available at the restaurant. A grilled cheese sandwich is sold for $3.95 and a hamburger and french fry combo can be had for $12.45.

The menu is filled with many other popular foods such as poutine, chicken tenders and meatball subs, with the most expensive item being a steak and cheese sub for $14.95.

“Anybody can come in and feel like they can eat out at a restaurant for a reasonable price,” she said. “I really like the idea of people leaving here feeling like they had a good time and were treated fairly.”

The restaurant is located next to the Temple Cinema, in the former First National Bank building. In fact, the doors to the bank vault still exist and add to the charm of the bar.

As word of the establishment has spread, Spaulding said she has seen more and more motorcycle enthusiasts patronizing her business, but it is open to more than just bikers.

Blues music plays through the restaurant for the lunchtime crowd before giving way to old-fashioned rock ‘n’ roll in the evenings.

It is also a full bar, with multiple beers on tap and mixed drinks available. Spaulding said she hopes to add live music and karaoke to the offerings.

“We hope people will come for lunch, come for dinner, but stay for the party,” Spaulding said. “We are not just a Harley-Davidson bar or just a biker bar. All are welcome.”

The restaurant plans an official grand opening celebration on Saturday, Oct. 29, coinciding with the Houlton Recreation Department’s “Downtown Spooktacular” Halloween event. For that event, Spaulding said kids can get candy from saddlebags of motorcycles parked in front of the restaurant.

The Handlebar Saloon is open Wednesdays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. until 1 a.m. Some nights they close up shop early if there are no patrons. Additional information on the bar, and a full menu, can be found on their Facebook page.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the street address where the Handlebar Saloon is located.