PBHS In Memory

Michele "Mike" Francis Testa, Iii. - Class Of 1969

Here is info on Mike Testa, PBHS 1969

Deceased 7-9-2010

BAR HARBOR — Bar Harbor lost a member of one if its oldest summer families with the death of restaurateur Michele “Mike” Francis Testa III, who died after a two-year battle with cancer, July 9, 2010 at age 60 at his home.

Mike’s family first came to Bar Harbor in 1934 from Palm Beach, Fla., but unlike most of the folks who made the same summer migration, they did not come to play, but to work.



His grandfather Mike, Sr., who immigrated to this country from Sicily in 1895, opened up the family’s first restaurant in Michigan in 1911 and then moved the family and the business to Palm Beach in 1921.


The family-run restaurant, Testa’s, developed a reputation for personal service, customer satisfaction and great strawberry pie. The business grew, moving into several successively bigger buildings – in 1929 and 1933 – before landing on Royal Poinciana Way, where it still operates today.

After 13 years of establishing their reputation solidly in Palm Beach, Mike Sr. and his sons, at the suggestion of some happy customers, decided to follow those customers to their favorite summering place, Bar Harbor, and opened what was soon an equally popular restaurant on the town’s Main Street.

The family, which eventually included, sons, daughters, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and cousins has been making the “palms to pines” journey ever since – Bar Harbor in the summer, Florida in the winter – many of them, like Mike III, making their own lifelong careers in the family business.

Born at Good Samaritan Hospital in West Palm Beach, Fla. on June 12, 1950, this third generation Michele was the first son of Michele Francis Testa Jr. and Eleanor Moran Testa.

He attended Palm Beach Military Academy and graduated from Palm Beach High School in 1969 and also attended Palm Beach Junior College.

In his earlier years Mike excelled in football, surfing and water skiing and later became an avid fisherman, something he enjoyed equally on the lakes and ponds of Maine and in the summer and waters of south Florida and the Florida Keys in the winter.

As was the tradition in his family, Mike started working at Testa’s when he was tall enough to peer over a tabletop. And while he always knew he would one day assume a major role in the family business, he did take a year or so off to go out west and work at a ski resort.

When he returned to the east, Mike followed in his father, uncle and grandfather’s footsteps, joining the family business in 1975. He became vice president under his dad at the young age of 25. It was a role he fulfilled with pride and distinction for the next 35 years.

His brother Tom, who worked with him, said the two of them worked together in the same manner they had seen their father and uncle sharing the duties.

“It just came naturally to us, because we’d been doing it forever,” Tom says.

In addition to carrying on the family tradition of serving good food for a reasonable price, Mike and Tom also continued the custom of treating their seasonal workers fairly. Many Bar Harbor kids got their first jobs busing or waiting tables at Testa’s, and many of them continued their summer jobs there for decades. And a few, like Debbie Taylor of Bar Harbor, joined the family on its seasonal migration.

“They always treated me like family, especially in Florida at the holidays,” Ms. Taylor says, recalling Easter dinners spent at the Testa’s home.

While Mike’s career at Testa’s was a big part of his life, it was by no means the only thing that filled his life. He had three marriages before finally figuring out that Testa’s waitress Katherine Moore, whom he had dated back in the 1970s when she was 17, was the woman he was supposed to be with. The couple reunited in 1996 and married in 2005. “We wanted to make the grandchildren legal,” says Katherine, who brought three children to the union. She says Mike was a good active stepfather and spent some very happy times watching those “legal grandchildren” at play.

In addition to his passion for fishing, Mike was always interested in the area’s railroad history – an interest he developed as a kid taking the train from Palm Beach to Ellsworth every summer. He was a founding director and generous contributor of the nonprofit, Downeast Rail Heritage Preservation Trust, Inc., a historic rail preservation group in Ellsworth, dedicated to the rail history of Maine and the restoration of a 30-mile portion of the Calais Branch of the former Maine Central Railroad.

Mike had hoped to have as long and venerable a working life as his grandfather, who continued at the restaurants until he was 90. But in 2008 Mike was diagnosed with bladder cancer.

They thought they had caught it in time, Katherine says, and Mike had a good summer in Bar Harbor last year. But in February the cancer returned. Although he was pretty sick, Mike decided to return to Bar Harbor and continue as best he could his routines and pleasures here. On June 12, his extended family gathered to celebrate his 60th birthday, and three weeks later they gathered again at his home on Derby Lane to say goodbye.

In addition to his wife Katherine and brother Tom, Mike is survived by his sisters Anna Striefel, Catherine Slick, Judith Testa, and their families; his stepsons, Tyler, Shayne and Travis Bryant; stepdaughter, Sarah Campbell; two stepgrandchildren, Nola and Reese Bryant; nieces, Jennifer Storey, Stephanie Striefel, Nina and Kate Testa; nephews Alexander and James Storey, Christopher Striefel, Thomas Michele Joseph Testa; several grandnieces and nephews; and cousins. His parents predeceased him.

A celebration of Mike’s life for friends and family will be held at Testa’s Restaurant in Bar Harbor, on Friday, July 16, from 5 to 7 p.m. For those wishing to send expressions of sympathy, contributions may be made in Mike’s name to Hancock County Homecare and Hospice, 93 Cottage St. Suite E, Bar Harbor ME 04609.