The first thing you’ll hear is that someone else’s table is ready – “Higgins! Party of Five!” If you’re new here, the sheer volume of the announcement might startle you, but you’ll get used to it – kind of.
The Steakhouse in Wells is most definitely not new here. Housed in a mammoth building on Route One and painted barn-red, this town mecca has been serving up “the finest aged western beef and fresh seafood – chicken” since 1991, as written on their business card with the slogan, “When You Want To Be Good To Yourself.”
Once parked in the lot, the boom of the loudspeaker(s) will be the background noise to the remainder of the evening. Restroom break? A speaker’s in there, too.
But for a 225-seater restaurant that regularly sees 800 covers on a busy summer night, the PA system is clearly working – loud and clear.
“People come to us for consistency – it’s always good when they come,” says longtime owner, Mark Sibley. Sibley has been here since day one, and while he knows there are trendier things happening in Maine and beyond, he’s sticking to the basics. Back in the 90s, The Steakhouse was conceived by David Kershaw, president of The Steak Co., Inc., who had spent over 45 years in the business and thought Wells could use a place that struck a chord between the restaurant chain Outback Steakhouse or Ruth’s Chris Steak House in Boston.
“We’re never on the cutting edge of the drink machine,” he says, “I like to serve things that are tried-and-true.”
The bar is situated at the top of the stairs on the second level where the checkout register is located, and where the host is making all of those deafening seating announcements. To the right of the stairs next to the bar is a waiting area with tables and chairs – a dining limbo of sorts – where you can enjoy a beverage while you wait. There’s also a larger waiting area downstairs (drinks only here), next to the restrooms.
There’s a huge selection of drinks, including over 40 cocktails ($7 to $11), 12 beers on draft, and about 30 wines by the glass ($5.50 to $9.50).
The cocktail list includes a mix of house martinis including run-of-the-mill varieties like blue pomegranate and espresso, and other commonplace cocktails like frozen daiquiris, margaritas, bloodies, punch and sangria. There are a couple drinks named for Sibley and his wife – a mai tai and a margarita – but both taste like their original recipes, which is not necessarily a bad thing.
One drink feature of note is The Steakhouse’s 11 “international coffee” choices ranging from a Russian Coffee to a Fireball, or a Mexican Coffee to a Nutty Irish. Our server said all of the coffees were quite popular. Whipped cream included.
There is no sign of The Steakhouse slowing down anytime soon – or changing. “If the wheel’s not broken, we keep rolling,” Sibley says.
The impressive crowd on a recent Friday evening (there was a 20-minute wait) seemed more than happy to sit back and enjoy a beer or cocktail while they waited their turn. Their name would be announced soon enough.
WHERE: 1205 Post Road, Route 1, Wells
HOURS: 4:30-9 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; 4 to 9 p.m. Saturday; 3:30-8 p.m. Sunday; Closed Mondays
AMENITIES: Downstairs waiting area, upstairs waiting area next to bar, ATM, good for large groups and families, full bar, free parking, inspiring tchotchke life quotes.
PARKING: Free parking in lot
BOTTOM LINE: Since 1991, The Steakhouse has been providing a consistent, quality dining experience for the town of Wells. Mammoth in size, this place seats 225 and is known to serve up to 800 on a busy summer night. There are over 40 cocktails to choose from, as well as wine and beer, and while there will likely be a wait on weekends, this local hub is a great way to see what Wells is all about.
WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE: Yes