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Business Friends Society

October 10, 2017

West Street Café has a brand new building and is back and better than ever this season. The landmark eatery on West Street in Bar Harbor long ago outgrew their original building, which, while full of charm, began to show its age. Saturday, July 29 marked their official reopening day, and co-owners Kevin and Jessica DesVeaux couldn’t be more thrilled. “We’re just really excited to have this space and share it with our staff and the public,” said Jessica.

During a three-year planning process, Jessica and Kevin took steps to ensure that their new West Street Café maintained the charm of their old building while adding much-needed space and structural upgrades that took into account the needs of their customers and their staff. “It was a combination of both of our visions,” said Kevin. The response to their new space has been outstanding so far, he said, people have been stopping in to check it out and have had really positive things to say.


The new restaurant is equipped with a brand new dining room with more seating, new bathrooms and a new kitchen with air conditioning. They also added a new server station, and a staff room equipped with a kitchenette and shower. “Now if you want to go out hiking during the daytime when you come back to work you don’t have to run home to shower before your shift,” Kevin explained. A lot of people who work here live off-island. We’ve tried to be really accommodating for the staff in our new design. We work too, and we understand. I think we nailed it.” Jessica couldn’t agree more. “We’re so excited to have it be reinvented in a way where we can give our staff the opportunity to work in this healthy, bright, inviting space,” she said.

Now that they have their new building, Jessica and Kevin plan to continue nurturing their business and contributing to their community. They look forward to expanding their previous 6 month season to 8 months and now plan to stay open April through November.

Kevin and Jessica appreciate that their Business Friends membership allows them to support the MDI community and they appreciate the outreach that MDI Hospital has done to make that happen. “I feel like the hospital has reached out more to the community and educated people more on a number of things. I see a number of programs that seem to be working well. I think I’ve seen more transparency too, which is important to me. I like that they’ve got more involved than ever in the business community and I hope that continues,” Kevin said.

MDI Hospital is grateful to have West Street Café as a Circle of Care level Business Friends Society member, and for all they do for the MDI community.

October 2, 2017

“At Machias Savings Bank, we’re not just an ordinary community bank. We are a true community bank dedicated to the concepts of community banking and service to our communities,” said Matthew R. Horton, Vice President and Branch Manager at Bar Harbor.

Commitment to community service is strongly embedded in Machias Savings Bank’s core values and they provide direct financial support to various organizations that meet critical community needs. “I’m privileged as a Branch Manager and Vice President of this organization to be able to go out and help a lot of the nonprofits in the area. We support a lot of nonprofits on this Island and in surrounding communities,” explained Mr. Horton.

In addition, all of Machias Savings Bank’s employees are empowered to perform volunteer work as a part of the organization’s mission to give back to the community. Last year, Machias Savings Bank employees donated over 10,000 hours of service across the state of Maine, representing a full week of work for each employee. In total, the organization donated $578,000 to charitable organizations.

Being in the industry for 24 years, Mr. Horton’s biggest interest in banking is working with people, which he’s loved since he was a kid. “I had great mentors back then that taught me a lot about customer service and going the extra mile. These were great ethics lessons I was taught back in my youth, and I’ve carried those lessons through with me into my banking career. Banking seemed like a natural fit for me,” he reminisced. “At Machias, we’re big into relationship building. We want our customers to know us, and we want to know them,” he said.

Mr. Horton is a local, born and raised on Mount Desert Island with a family history that traces back more than 100 years. “This is my hometown, and I’m proud to be providing a service that helps people. It’s never the same thing, there’s a lot of variety, which I like a lot. It’s nice serving the people that are my friends and neighbors.” In addition to serving his community through his work at Machias Savings Bank, Mr. Horton continues to serve as a member of the Bar Harbor Fire Department as he has for the past 21 years. Additionally, he currently serves on the board of the MDI Historical Society and is also a member of Acadia National Parks Advisory Commission.

Through his involvement with the Fire Department and local ambulance services, Mr. Horton has had a lot of experience with MDI Hospital’s Emergency Department and has always been very impressed with the quality of care provided.

“I think the Hospital is very well-run. We’re blessed to have it here. I think everyone on the Island sleeps a little better at night knowing the Hospital is right down the street,” said Mr. Horton.

In speaking about his personal experience with MDI Hospital, he said, “I feel fortunate that I don’t have many health problems, but on the occasion that I have had an issue, they got me through them really quickly. I have zero complaints,” he added. “My daughter was born there. Her birth was the most professional and caring experience.”
As part of their commitment to community, Machias Savings Bank joined MDI Hospital’s Business Friends Society this year at the Circle of Care Plus level. “We want to be part of what the hospital is doing in our local communities. We want to make certain that we’re doing our part to contribute effectively,” said Mr. Horton.

September 30, 2017

“I never expected to come here, and yet here I am,” says Hatsana Phanthavong, owner of Siam Orchid Restaurant, with a smile and a laugh. “You have to remember what it’s like to survive a winter here.” Over the last 14 years, Hatsana and his family have not only learned how to survive a Maine winter, but they have also become an integral part of the MDI community. “MDI people are just really nice in general—overwhelmingly good-natured, and very receptive to an ethnic restaurant. It’s made me feel really welcome.”

Hatsana’s experience with MDI Hospital and Health Centers developed over the years as well. He recalls bringing a staff member to the Emergency Room a few years ago, and praises Kate Worcester, PA-C for her excellent care. “She was awesome. She took great care of us,” he says. Recently, he and his wife were well taken care of by Charlie Hendricks, MD, and the Hospital nursing staff during the birth of their daughter, he shares. “The nurses there should get double their salary because they take such good care of us.”

As a business owner and community member, Hatsana believes that he has a responsibility to give back. “I feel like if you’re going to be in this community, you should get involved in some form, whatever it may be,” he says. “Some people can give of their time. For me, I can’t afford time,” he chuckles and glances over at his daughter, Areeya, who is bouncing happily in her chair next to him. “It’s our community, so whatever we can do to make it better for our kids and generations to come, we should do it.”

Hatsana recently joined the Business Friends Society because his business is growing and the timing was right. “We are just so appreciative of the care that we received from Dr. Hendricks,” he explains. “You can go to Portland or Boston, and they’re probably the same quality doctors, but here they know you and care about you. It makes me feel safe.”

September 28, 2017

“I’ve really been impressed with the quality of care and management of [the Hospital] as a sustainable business.”
—Michael Boland

It was during a two-week biology field trip to Mount Desert Island that Michael Boland attended as an undergraduate that he realized that the Island was significantly better than the Jersey Shore. Almost 30 years later, Michael credits this realization for piquing his interest in what has become a lifetime connection to MDI. A local restaurateur and philanthropist, Michael has been the proprietor of many successful businesses in the MDI region over the years, as well as an active participant in fostering the arts, music and local farming and food initiatives.

When asked about what drew him to the restaurant industry, he replied, “you get to be a little bit of everything, a designer, an architect, a construction manager—you get to do all those things when you open a restaurant, and then there’s also a creative side.”
Michael currently owns Havana Restaurant and Choco-latte Café in Bar Harbor. Most recently, Michael has partnered with Northeast Harbor summer resident Mitchell Rales in renovating, reopening, and continuing the legacy of the Islesford Dock Restaurant on Little Cranberry Island. “I’ve always seen Islesford as a special place. I’ve been a customer and a guest there for many years. It really is unique,” he explained. The former owners, Cynthia and Dan Lief, “had done a great job at creating a welcoming and comfortable vibe that is appealing to many and hard to create. It’s really an egalitarian kind of place, and we hope to further that feeling.” Under Michael’s stewardship, the Islesford Dock Restaurant opened its doors for the season on June 1st.

The future of our Island community has always meant a great deal to Michael. “It’s important to be long-lasting, so we can have an impact over time. We need to be financially successful enough to give back to the many nonprofits and organization on this Island as they are rooted in the community,” he said.

Michael has a long-standing and personal relationship with MDI Hospital. “We’ve seen the Hospital grow and I’ve really been impressed with the quality of care and management of it as a sustainable business. It’s had a major impact in the business community on the Island with over 500 employees; I’d like to support that and help keep it going.” Both Havana and Choco-latte are charter members of MDI Hospital’s Business Friends Society, and this year Islesford Dock Restaurant joined as well.

“We’re particularly excited about hosting the Hospital’s 120th Anniversary Event at Islesford Dock on July 22nd. We look forward to being able to connect these two institutions in a way which provides a sense of well-being to the island,” Michael said.

September 18, 2017

Michael Gilfillan can’t imagine living anywhere other than Mount Desert Island. “It really has everything that you could ever want,” he says. An MDI native, Michael’s roots on the Island extend back to the 1700s on his mother’s side. Today, Michael and his wife Stacey are the proud owners of West End Drug Company which first came into being in 1917. The Bar Harbor pharmacy was originally owned and operated by Michael’s grandfather under the name Gordan and Gilfillan.

“It’s good to know that we’re a tight-knit community that looks out for each other,” says Michael. “I have seen people I have known all my life grow into grandmothers and grandfathers—it’s part of the process of the history of growing up together.”

The relationship between MDI Hospital and Health Centers and West End Drug Company is unique in that it’s grown together over the past century, both adapting to the demands of changing times. “It’s a relationship that has grown between us and we’ve grown together,” Michael says.

Michael is proud to have served on MDI Hospital’s Board of Trustees and the Planning Committee in previous years.

“I can’t imagine the Island without the Hospital,” Michael says. “I would think it would be more isolated—a place where many people would feel like they would have to travel outside their comfort zone. The Hospital’s connection to the people in this community makes them feel safe and taken care of. That would be missed. It would be a big hole in the community.”

September 1, 2017

“Starting a business, I knew how to do two things: I knew how to make pizza, and I knew how to show movies. That’s how the idea was hatched for Reel Pizza,” said Chris Vincenty, co-owner of Reel Pizza Cinerama in Bar Harbor. Chris and his wife and business partner Lisa Burton met while attending College of the Atlantic. In 1995, they renovated an unused auto parts warehouse to open Reel Pizza, which has since become a community hub for residents and visitors on Mount Desert Island.

“When we started, part of our business plan was to build community,” Chris explains. “We wanted to be that center of town where people meet and greet, and go on their first dates. Our doors are always open for special programming and fundraisers because that’s a part of who Lisa and I are. We really enjoy that aspect of our community.”

Reel Pizza joined MDI Hospital’s Business Friends Society this year as a way to continue their ongoing commitment to their community. “It’s just great that we have the Hospital here, and to be able to support it and make sure that it’s still thriving is important for our entire community,” says Chris. “Having the Hospital on the Island is amazing because that type of service in this type of community is very rare—you don’t have to go very far to see a doctor. I’ve become friends with many doctors there over the years. It’s a small town, you know people that work everywhere. That’s what I’ve always been amazed by, the fact that we have a facility here. I don’t even know how they do it. Art’s [MDI Hospital President/CEO Art Blank] a magician.”

In their spare time, you can find Chris and Lisa living off-the-grid on their 35-acre property in Salisbury Cove where they’ve raised their two children, Pierson and Chloe. Surprisingly, you won’t find them watching television, Chris shared while chuckling.

January 3, 2017

It was while attending an alternative high school in Worcester, MA that Liz Cutler first had the idea that she could do anything she wanted, even create her own classes. In that realization, the seed of what would one day become ArtWaves Community Arts Center was planted. ArtWaves, now located in Town Hill, is a unique community arts center that has become an incubator for artists to germinate the seeds of their own creative collaborations and inspire and educate others.

“There’s a lot of talent and excitement on this island, I meet incredible artists,” explains Liz. She feels that everyone can engage in art on some level, even as a patron or as a partner of someone involved. “Human beings by nature just want to create,” she says.

Born in New York and raised in Worcester, MA, Liz has been visiting Mount Desert Island since she was young. Her strong connection to the Island drew her to move here year-round after her children grew up.

Liz has been painting on MDI for many years. In an effort to raise awareness of the fine arts on the Island, she established ArtWaves in 2015. The mission of the arts center is to create a community of serious artists on MDI and to foster growth and collaboration in that community. Artwaves new space at 1345 A. Route 102 is located right next to the Town Hill Market.

When asked about her personal experience with MDI Hospital, Liz recounts a story that takes her back 25 years. One summer, while living in Castine when Liz’s daughter was two years old, her daughter was mauled by a dog that left her with severe wounds. There was no ambulance service at that time during the summer. Liz and her daughter were routed to MDI Hospital for surgical care. She recalls that once they arrived at MDI Hospital, it was Charlie Hendricks, MD who came in to treat her daughter. “By the time I got here, I didn’t want to let go of her, and the staff was really great. I said to them, ‘Have you ever seen anything like this?’ Dr. Hendricks replied, ‘yes I have.’ Everyone was very compassionate. I remember feeling well taken care of, I never had to wait for anything and they were right up front about everything.”

Knowing that MDI Hospital is here to take care of the needs of her community is very important to Liz, and as such, she was thrilled to join the Hospital’s newly formed Business Friends Society to show her support for the health of the unique and beautiful community that has helped ArtWaves Community Arts Center thrive.

June 28, 2016

Often when people are looking to buy or rent property, the first question they ask their realtor is if there is a school and a hospital in close proximity. According to Nancy Corliss, Agency Manager of Lynam Agency Insurance and Real Estate, Mount Desert Island Hospital’s presence on the Island has a lot to do with why people choose to live on MDI.

“We meet a lot of people who work for the hospital through the work we do. It’s a safe feeling knowing that if anything were to happen, these people will be there for us,” Nancy confesses.

The Lynam Agency was founded by Fred C. Lynam in 1884. Quickly identifying the need to provide protection for people’s property and wealth in the growing island community, Mr. Lynam started the Bar Harbor Bank & Trust a few years later. His philanthropic and entrepreneurial nature led him to become involved in bringing the community’s vision for MDI Hospital to fruition in 1897 as well.

Nancy, a native to MDI who was born at MDI Hospital, has a long history with the Lynam Agency as her mother worked there until 1984. She grew up in Southwest Harbor where her father owed Boyington Bros. Market, a little grocery store, in the late 1950’s. Nancy reminisces about a time when Lynam delivered policies by bicycle to people’s homes. “One of the reasons I love our agency is because it’s not part of a big group, it’s local. People can just walk in the door to ask a question or pay a bill. I think people miss that. In the big cities, you don’t see that at all, and I think some people still prefer that.”

To Nancy, representing a business on MDI means being a part of the community, volunteering your time for island activities and getting to know your customers. Nancy is proud to be a past President of the Rotary Club and also started the fundraiser “Fill a Boat,” an opportunity to raise money for Stand Up For Cancer in honor of her daughter.

To Nancy, partnering with MDI Hospital to ensure the health and well-being of our community just makes sense. When asked what lead Lynam to join MDI Hospital’s Business Friends Society, she replied, “We have to do this because the hospital is so important to our town.” Nancy believes that the health of MDI Hospital and Health Centers is crucial to all businesses on the island and that having access to high-quality healthcare right here on MDI is precious and worth protecting.

June 20, 2016

Jordan-Fernald Funeral Home is the only funeral home on Mount Desert Island. It has been owned and operated by five generations of Fernalds since 1860, and offers both cremation and burial funereal services.

“We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the need of the community. The community wants a place that can service their families and we hope that we are providing them with that in a positive way,” says Lauri Fernald, current Funeral Director and co-owner. “Back then, people were furniture makers. They were used to doing everything out of their homes. There became a need to get those services out of people’s homes.”

Lauri is a fifth generation Fernald, and she is proud to operate her family’s business. Her father, Robert Fernald, co-owner, still works with the company from a “behind-the-scenes” perspective. Eric Schwitz joined the team as a Funeral Director in 2010 after falling in love with the friendly atmosphere of the island. “It’s an honor to serve the people that appreciate the service that we can provide for them,” he says.

MDI Hospital has been in Lauri’s life since the day she was born here in our Obstetrics Department. Ever since, Lauri’s experience with MDI Hospital has always been very positive, from visits to the emergency room to working professionally with hospital clinics.  More recently, she has had high praise for Birch Bay Village, which she experienced while taking care of her 93-year old friend with dementia. “The staff was very caring and very good at communicating during that time period. They made it so my friend understood that everything they were doing was for her,” she explains.

Eric also shared a personal story about his grandmother being rushed to the hospital last summer. “MDI Hospital was the best experience I’ve ever had with a hospital. I felt like they really cared.” Eric also has had occasion to visit the hospital’s Community Dental Center in Southwest Harbor. “It was the best experience that I’ve ever had in my life with a dentist,” he says. Prior to moving to MDI, Eric had stopped going in for regular dental appointments because of the negativity he associated with the visits.  “It is refreshing to get quality care right in your own hometown. This small town gives staff an opportunity to get to know the patients.”

Lauri sees Jordan-Fernald Funeral Home as being part of a community, just like MDI Hospital. “It’s nice to be able to serve a community that you live in, where you know the people,” she says. “You get to know the locals as well as the tourists. It’s nice when the Police and Fire Departments know the families personally during a service,” Eric adds.

Lauri joined MDI Hospital’s Business Friends Society because she believes it’s important for this island to have a hospital. “It’s a way for us to show our support for the Hospital. We wanted our business name alongside other businesses that are supportive as well.”

April 18, 2016

Bar Harbor Bank & Trust is proud to be available year round for its customers. Since its founding in 1887, BHBT has been a critical part of the economic flow of Mount Desert Island and surrounding areas…helping entrepreneurs start and grow businesses, and helping community members save, spend wisely, invest, and purchase homes. “We are a true community bank,” says Cathy Planchart, VP of Corporate Communications and Community Relations.

Just as Mount Desert Island Hospital was MDI’s first medical facility, Bar Harbor Bank & Trust was MDI’s first full-service bank. Both organizations arose to meet the Island’s needs as its population was rapidly growing and diversifying. “As an economy, we can’t grow any further until we have developed necessary services such as banking and medical care,” says Cathy. “The Hospital is an attraction to this Island. People are not going to move here without accessible, good quality healthcare.” Cathy knows that firsthand—she moved to MDI in 1996 after falling in love with the Island when she came here for her honeymoon.

“Having a local healthcare provider is so important to businesses,” Cathy explains. “Especially in banking and other types of service businesses, our greatest resource is our people. We rely on the people of the community to deliver our products and services. We need them to be in good health! It’s a very symbiotic relationship, as health is a priority.” In fact, Bar Harbor Bank & Trust was one of the Hospital’s founding donors—from the very first day, supporting our vision of a state-of-the-art healthcare facility to serve Mount Desert Island’s residents and visitors.

Today, Bar Harbor Bank & Trust sees the Business Friends Society as a nice opportunity to build on this enduring relationship.  “We support our community, not only from a business perspective, but we also give generously with our charitable giving program. Our intent is to be part of all our communities,” says Cathy. From its original Main Street building—the Mount Desert Block, constructed in 1887 and still in use today—Bar Harbor Bank & Trust is now located in six counties in Maine: Washington, Hancock, Knox, Kennebec, Penobscot, and Sagadahoc.  As such, Bar Harbor Bank & Trust supports over 200 organizations each year. Mount Desert Island Hospital is proud to have earned their continued support as a Business Friend.

April 17, 2016

Stephen Stanley, born and raised on Mount Desert Island, is proud to own a business here. As an electrical contractor, he explains, “We get to see things on the Island that others might not get to see.” As MDI attracts high-end home construction, Stephen feels lucky to have the opportunity to work with leading-edge technologies not typically seen in small Maine communities.

Always enjoying the trade, Stephen started at a very young age, getting his license in his early 20’s and working his way up from apprentice to a certified electrician. In 1978, he opened Stephen Stanley Electrical Contractors, Inc., and fifteen years ago moved the business to its current location in Southwest Harbor.

Stephen has been a long-time supporter of MDI Hospital and Health Centers, but after an incident three summers ago, he realized the true importance of these organizations. An avid biker, Stephen took a serious tumble while riding and was taken to MDI Hospital by ambulance. With a broken nose and cracked tooth, Stephen was incredibly thankful for the services he received that “patched him right up.” He admits, “I would have been a mess if these guys didn’t show up—I went face first on a Park loop I’d done thousands of times.”

During this experience, Stephen came to realize there are many people who are volunteering their time “and doing a heck of a good job,” providing responsive medical care on the Island. With the majority of Mainers being self-employed or part-time/seasonal workers, Stephen considered how many people are not able to get health insurance coverage and found himself questioning how they are ever able to pay medical bills. “I looked at the Hospital and ambulance services and thought, they are so underfunded.” Stephen was shocked to learn that MDI Hospital absorbs the cost of over $4 million in uncompensated health care each year. He was moved to take further action and join the Business Friends Society to show his support.

As an Island of many nonprofits, Stephen insists, “These organizations really need our financial support.” “If there was no hospital on this Island, MDI would not have the value it’s got—people wouldn’t travel to the Island without the hospital.”

November 16, 2015

Kevin and Jessica DesVeaux feel honored to be business owners on Mount Desert Island and see giving back as a way to show their appreciation to their community. No surprise, then, that West Street Café was one of the Island’s first businesses to join MDI Hospital’s new Business Friends Society, designed to bring local, community-minded businesses together to improve the health of our community. “We have a great thing here, and need more participation in the hospital,” said Kevin.

Kevin first purchased West Street Café in 2000, after starting as a dishwasher and working his way up to general manager. Kevin and Jessica worked together for several years and eventually married in June 2015, becoming a dynamic team and co-owners of West Street Café.

With a shared philosophy of “tenderness, generosity and respect,” both Kevin and Jessica believe that once you establish your business and it becomes a success, it’s time to give back to the community as much as you can. Growing up in a small community in Maine, Kevin learned at a young age what it meant to give back. “I said, if I ever run a business one day, I want to be like an uncle – there were a number of well-established business owners that made a difference in my life and I said I want to pay it forward when I get older.” Jessica chimes in, “He runs his business with his heart and at times I come in to be the non-heart person to establish the balance.”

Both Jessica and Kevin are active in their community and regularly give and volunteer to a wide variety of organizations, including the Bar Harbor Food Pantry, Serendipity, the Abbe Museum, the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce, Healthy Acadia, Jesup Library, YMCA, YWCA, and Friends of Acadia.

In their free time you can find them out on Long Pond boating in the summer and ice fishing in the winter. They truly enjoy seeing the change of the seasons here on MDI.

To learn more about becoming a member of MDI Hospital’s Business Friends, visit the MDI Hospital Business Friends Society page, check out our Business Friends Benefits or contact Marisa Marinelli in the Office of Advancement at  288-5082, ext. 1429.