The Tan Turtle Tavern
Meet Our February Featured Business: THE TAN TURTLE TAVERN
This month the Tan Turtle Tavern has been our featured business. While the Turtle existed in another location under different ownership, its current owner/operator team of Steve Foss and his wife, Mindy Morse-Foss, who are transforming the restaurant into a hub of year-round life in Mount Desert. Located inside the Kimball Terrace Inn with an outdoor dining area overlooking the marina, the Tan Turtle offers contemporary American cuisine in a welcoming and scenic environment. Read on to learn more about this business and the people behind it who continue to demonstrate their commitment to community by helping to keep us warm, happy, and well-fed through the winter.
The menu at the Tan Turtle Tavern features staple foods from the coast of Maine, including lobster, clams, fish sandwiches, and hamburgers. Steve prides himself on ensuring customers get great value from their visit to the Tan Turtle by taking extra care with portion sizes. Where other restaurants cut corners to save money on their entrees, Steve’s plates at the Turtle are generous.
Originally from the Bangor area, Steve has been in the food business for around thirty years. He was working at a seafood restaurant in Ocean City, Maryland in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina ravaged the US Gulf Coast. Steve signed up with the Red Cross and relocated to Louisiana, where he volunteered as a cook in shelters for people displaced by the massive storm. When his term as a volunteer ended, the Red Cross offered Steve a paid position and he accepted.
Moving back to Maine around 2015, Steve continued to demonstrate his deep and immediate commitment to community. “When I’ve got two bucks I think I can give $1.50 away,” Steve says about their efforts to keep the Tan Turtle open this winter. While it may sound like bragging, Steve is actually being self-deprecating. Throughout this past summer, Steve and Mindy’s first full season of ownership, locals begged him to stay open for the winter. Though closing until the following spring would have been the prudent thing to do, Mindy and Steve’s loyalty to the community was more important.
During these first years as the Tan Turtle’s owners, Steve and Mindy have already established themselves as reliable contributors to local charities, including school music programs and the Bar Harbor Food Pantry. What’s more, the Tan Turtle Tavern hosted a free community Thanksgiving dinner last November, in recognition of the need to bring people together who would otherwise have been alone for the holiday. When a major snowstorm arrived the following month, Steve and Mindy opened on Christmas to make sure that all members of the community had somewhere to go.
Also a native Mainer, Mindy was raised in a family-run business. Her parents owned and operated three stores with pizza and sandwich shops, where she worked until the age of 20, when she left Maine. Upon returning, she spent eleven years in the airline industry before taking a position in quality assurance at an out-patient mental health facility in Bangor. She continues to work there while helping Steve with office work at the restaurant. Deeply dedicated to community in her own right, over the last 25 years Mindy has volunteered many hours with schools, church, a Kinship Program, and a Junior Civic Program.
While there’s nothing finer than enjoying a meal outside on the Tan Turtle’s deck overlooking the marina, we are truly grateful for Steve and Mindy’s warm welcome during the colder months. This winter has also brought an Open Mic Night to the restaurant on Saturdays, pairing food and drink with live entertainment for an unbeatable combination. Next time you are down by the water in Northeast Harbor, pop in to the Tan Turtle Tavern for a meal, a drink, or just to visit!