The Tastemakers: Candice + Ryan Flaherty
How did you come to be in Waterville? Why did you return?
Candice: I grew up in Oakland, and Ryan grew up in Winslow. We bought our first home in Winslow, and when we outgrew it, we knew they wanted to stay local. We’re really happy with the local school system, and Waterville was starting to turn over. Before we had kids, Main Street was shabby. Now our kids are a little older, and Main Street is revitalized – we want to stay here.
How has Waterville changed during your time here?
Ryan: This building [Hathaway Creative Center] changed! The city has gotten a facelift, from the downtown Riverwalk to Main Street revitalization. The city has experienced a lot of turnover – it had a busy downtown when the mills were going, then a lot of vacancies. It has turned over again.
Tell me about your work in the beer industry. What do you do and why?
Ryan: I made home brew for 10 years, and I always wanted to open brewery – it was my pipe dream. I shared the beer with my family and friends – I knew that I could do it. We had an opportunity to buy local equipment, and then it sat in garage for a year.
Candice: I backed him because it was his dream and because it was a legitimate product. We have very high expectations.
Where do you think Waterville will be in 5-10 years?
Ryan: The city looks like it’s in good shape – I hope it works out. Colby College’s investment in the community is a positive thing. There’s a lot at stake to keep it an attraction.
Why should young people get involved in a small, rural city like Waterville?
Candice: Everyone likes small town feel – the city has that and still has a great restaurant scene and variety. We have these attractions without the traffic of a bigger city, where you have no idea who’s next to you. This is our forever home, and we love the school system.
What are the challenges you face as a young leader in your field?
Candice: I don’t know that youth makes a difference – it’s really how you go about it. You need to understand the time and energy required – that’s a bigger investment than the money. Be passionate about product, but the passion doesn’t mean much if you don’t have sales. There isn’t a quick fix – you’re invested for the long run.
What advice do you have for Millennials deciding where to put down roots and get involved?
Candice: Consider not only the community in which you’re settling but also the surrounding communities. We have options here – schools, parks and recreation opportunities, restaurants – without the need to travel 20 or 30 minutes.
What’s your pitch for greater Waterville?
Ryan: It has a small town feel, but it’s close enough to decent emerging jobs. It’s going through an uprise – there is strong community support and investment. Our institutional and community leaders truly are invested.