The Thirsty Whale has been sold to new owners. Credit: Aislinn Sarnacki / BDN

The Thirsty Whale pub, which has been a Bar Harbor fixture for decades even as the town’s tourism industry has grown around it, has a new owner for the first time this century.

The sale of the pub was completed this week, when longtime owners Basil Eleftheriou and Heather Sorokin signed the necessary paperwork to transfer the pub to Michael Rosa. Eleftheriou and Sorokin had owned and operated the popular tavern since the 1990s, largely keeping it open through the winter months when most other shops and restaurants downtown went into seasonal hibernation.

The Whale, as it is referred to locally, has remained a constant while much of downtown has changed since the late 20th century. When the pub opened, only a couple dozen cruise ships visited each summer and Acadia National Park had about 2.5 million visits a year.

Now cruise ships typically stop in Frenchman Bay more than 150 times each summer and fall while the park gets 4 million visits a year. New buildings have sprung up around the pub on Cottage Street and most of the businesses that were there when the Whale first opened are gone, replaced by new names and new owners.

Eleftheriou and Sorokin completely rebuilt the Whale building in 2008, but changed so little of its design and appearance that few people now remember the project.

“It’s bittersweet but we were ready,” Sorokin posted on Facebook. “There are not enough thank you’s for our unbelievably loyal staff and to all of you that helped us to build a successful restaurant that we could be proud of. All your favorite members of our team are still there so please stop in to say hello.”

The pub was listed for sale last year for $2.79 million. The price that Rosa paid for the Whale has not been disclosed.

Rosa has not returned messages this week seeking comment on his purchase of the pub.

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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....