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Maurice Restaurant Francais
Phone: 207-743-2532
Address: 109 Main St
South Paris, Maine 04281-1407
Years In Biz: 30+ Years
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Maurice Restaurant Francais Business Profile:

Since 1976 Maurice Restaurant has been a pleasant surprise for world sojourners and people new to the beautiful Oxford Hills area of Western Maine. Located in South Paris on Route 26, which takes the traveler north into Canada, the two hundred year old clapboard house turned restaurant continues to delight, serving French-Continental cuisine in an elegant country atmosphere at affordable prices.

Having only three owners in nearly as many decades lends such stability and consistency to the establishment, making it one of the finest dining experiences in the state and beyond.

Founding owner, Maurice André, was born in Paris, France, of a French mother and Swiss father. His father moved the family to Geneva, Switzerland, where Maurice grew up. He came to Westchester County, New York, via Canada, as an adult where he taught French at both high school and college levels. He met his future wife, Louisa (hence Tournedos Louisa - see menu), an English teacher from Holland, walking along a deserted beach. She loved his accent and he loved hers. “He was a fantastic cook”, says Louisa. “People were always saying, ‘Maurice, why don’t you open a restaurant?’”

Maurice and Louisa had friends in the Oxford Hills area and visited there during summer vacations. In July of 1975 Maurice asked his friends, who were realtors, if there were any area restaurants for sale. There were none of interest but there was an old cape with an extension and a huge attached barn located right on Main Street. Maurice bought the house on the spot and moved to South Paris in November of that year. Maurice Restaurant Francais opened in April of 1976. Louisa followed to South Paris in June and their son, Ned, was born that August.

Maurice André was a real showman and something of a charmer. He wore white gloves and made quite a drama out of carving Châteaubriand table side for his customers. He served opulent New Year’s Eve feasts (Dinner of St. Sylvester) which were patronized by well-to-do people from the area and abroad. He developed a wine list unrivaled in the state. In a short time Maurice restaurant was well known throughout Maine and much of New England.

Maurice’s dream was cut short. He became ill and passed away in June of 1979. Louisa continued to operate the restaurant while raising their son who was just three years old.

In August of 1980 the restaurant changed hands. The new owners, Marge and John Tisdale, kept the same dinner menu, added a luncheon menu and eventually increased the seating capacity from forty-eight to eighty. In December of 1983, just one week after a major addition had been completed, a fire caused by a wood-burning stove in the upstairs apartment where the Tisdales lived, broke out gutting the restaurant. It reopened in March of 1984 looking better than ever and creating quite a stir in the community. The Tisdales kept Maurice’s menu and many of his basics, but catered to area residents to establish repeat business. Monthly wine dinners were introduced long before any other area restaurants were doing them. These things and the notoriety of the fire increased interest and sales and the business was truly off and running.

Many local people were employed over the years. One young man from West Paris, barely out of high school, came to work as a dish washer and then a line cook at another restaurant operated by the Tisdales. Corey Sumner later was transferred to Maurice Restaurant. Since he was learning to cook, he enrolled in the culinary program at Central Maine Technical College completing the program there, but by and large learned far more from on the job training at Maurice and from cookbooks and experimenting with his own creativity. Corey’s skills grew and he eventually became the head chef at Maurice Restaurant.

The Tisdales split up in 1996 and Marge operated the restaurant with Corey’s support in the kitchen. In 1998 Marge and Corey set the date - January 1st, 2000 - for Corey to assume ownership. Now Corey owns Maurice Restaurant and Marge works in a supportive role in the dining room, part-time.

Corey turned thirty in 2000, three days after the restaurant became his. He hopes to retire by the age of fifty-five, but now he has family so he may never retire.

Category: Food & Dining


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