Just before the year 2000, Jason Moholland and his then partner began planning a take-out eatery, and secured a lease on land next to the Country Inn at Camden/Rockport. The take-out stand, Sea Spirit, was a success, but the partnership soon fizzled. However, the owner of Country Inn and the Sea Spirit’s land, Bill Hahn, believed that Jason would be able to provide his guests at the newly- acquired Cedar Crest Motel with quality meals made quickly. The hotels are within a quarter of mile from each other, and Bill reasoned that since Jason was from eastern Maine, he had a better than average chance of success operating a restaurant in the Mid Coast.
Cedar Crest Motel had always been known for quality, affordable accommodations and a cozy coffee shop, which was located in the lower level of the first motel building. The coffee shop had a long-standing reputation of serving thousands upon thousands of some of the finest home cooked breakfasts in eastern Maine. A local short-order cook named Rose had been a fixture in the coffee shop for many years, wielding her kitchen tools with impeccable timing and flare. Many long-time, regular guests who stayed at Cedar Crest Motel spoke of Rose with fondness. The entertainment she provided for patrons as they ate their morning meals, left them with an everlasting impression.
Although Rose was getting on in years and did not join Jason’s staff, Jason was able to continue living up to the expectations of regular patrons with his family’s hard work beside him and their dedication. The Mohollands were proud of their “little hidden gem” and continued serving home cooked breakfast meals with fast, friendly service.
In 2001, the restaurant was moved from the guest room basement to the rear of the Cedar Crest Motel’s office. Now both Cedar Crest Motel and the restaurant were being operated out of the then nearly 200 year-old house in Camden. The back part of the house and a section of the barn were renovated into restaurant space to seat nearly 50 patrons.
Many delicious meals were served and the space became inadequate, as Cedar Crest Restaurant’s popularity grew. A small addition featuring a salad bar was completed the following year in 2002. The restaurant offers beer and wine, fresh seafood platters and live jazz plays every Friday evening. With the help of Jason’s girlfriend, Heather, new ideas and expansions have proven very successful. The Elm Street Grille now serves many local patrons and traveling guests alike and is a favorite dining spot in Camden.
In 2006, Jason purchased a pizza oven and through experimentation, came up with the right combination of a smooth tasting sauce, just the right amount of cheese and a variety of tasty ingredients aimed to please his patrons pallets. Many fresh dough pizzas have been enjoyed ever since, both in the dining room and as take-out meals.
The Cedar Crest has been a lodging facility since the 1920′s at this location, and Elm Street has been the gateway to Camden since that time as well. In recognition of local history, the restaurant was renamed the Elm Street Grille in 2007, and was redecorated to reference the spirit of the Street over the years. Along with that change, Cedar Crest Motel was Renamed Cedar Crest Inn to distinguish itself as a step above a less desirable chain-style motel.
Jason and Heather continually search for new offerings for their diners. Since his breakfast beginnings, Jason has added fresh seafood entrees, homemade dough pizzas and the list goes on. The choices will vary and we all look forward to Jason’s next idea with interest and excitement. Elm Street Grille will always provide top quality meals at reasonable prices, in a friendly atmosphere. It’s… “Where tasty food, good friends and great music meet.”