Ellsworth Chamber of Commerce Top-Drawer Award to be Presented to George and Pamela Elias, Owners of Rooster Brother
The Ellsworth Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors announced on Monday, March 13th that George and Pamela Elias, owners of Rooster Brother in downtown Ellsworth are the 2023 Top Drawer Award winners. The award will be presented on June 1, 2023, at the Chamber’s Annual Awards night in a pop-up event center in Downtown Ellsworth and the Grand Theater.
History of Rooster Brother
In June of 1987, George and Pamela Elias purchased Shepard’s Hardware from George and Charlene Shepard. The Shepards had sold the building which had housed their business for many years and moved just the kitchen equipment to the building on South Street which had been Thelma Beal’s fish market and is now the kitchen of the Union River Lobster Pot. They changed the name to Rooster Brother, which was inspired by a favorite family children’s story based on an Armenian folk tale about a little boy, his mother, and food. Intending in the future to expand into specialty foods, they began with a small offering of wine with an emphasis on quality and value. In Maine, in order to sell wine, one must also sell some food, so they added a small case of chocolate.
A year later, the business was moved back into the lower level of the large building at 18 West Main Street and a coffee roaster was acquired and the process of learning to roast coffee well was begun. Also, an offsite location was found to produce baguettes and other breads.
Another year later, the street floor of the building became available. The owner of the building, Jim Donovan, installed a connecting stairway and the kitchen equipment was moved to that level, leaving more space on the lower level for the wine, specialty foods such as olive oils, cheeses, and tea and especially the coffee roasting operation.
In 1993, the Eliases bought the building from Donovan and renovated the stage area on the floor above street level into a commercial kitchen so that the bread production could be moved there, and added other products such as sausages, pastry, salads, barbeque sauce, granola and maple ginger pecans.
The process of writing Point-of-Sale software began in 1996, working with several programmers, as commercially available software available at that time did not suit the business’s needs. This system was put into use in 1997 and has allowed the business to grow substantially. A few years later, a website to sell coffee online was added.
The Second Story, also known as the “Emporium of Good Stuff for Less”, opened in July of 2000 and was open every summer until 2022, when staffing and supply issues forced it to be closed.
The store remained open throughout the pandemic, with curbside service only between March and June of 2020. The staff has grown from just George and Pamela to 20 employees. Sales have increased to about forty times what they were the first year in business.