Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Farmers’ Market History, Part 2

Sunday, May 25th, 2014

The Maine Sunday Telegram has published an article (part 2 of 2) about the history of the Portland Farmers’ Market.

Over the centuries, the market rose and fell, and rose again, along with the fortunes of the city. Over the market’s 246-year lifespan, it has moved at least half a dozen times, operated indoors and out, sometimes at multiple locations, and has almost been extinguished by industrial agriculture and the popularity of supermarkets.

You can read part 1 of this article online.

Gritty’s 25th Anniversary

Friday, December 20th, 2013

Today’s Press Herald includes a front page article about Gritty’s 25 years in business and the impact they’ve had on Maine’s craft beer industry.

“Yeah, I’d say [Dave] Geary and those guys ([Gritty's co-founders] Stebbins and Pfeffer) were sort of the godfathers of Maine brewing, and today the scene is just so filled with talented people, very small outfits finding a niche for themselves,” said Houghton, who also runs The Liberal Cup brew pub in Hallowell. “The main reason I’m in Maine is because of Gritty McDuff’s.”

Bangor Daily News and publisher of The Bollard has also written about Gritty’s 25 anniversary in his weekly column.

Together with David Geary, Dave Evans of The Great Lost Bear, and Alan Eames of Three Dollar Dewey’s, Gritty’s founders Richard Pfeffer and Ed Stebbins deserve a significant amount of credit for the scores of breweries, thousands of jobs and millions of dollars the microbrew movement has brought to Maine since the 1980s. For that alone, Pfeffer and Stebbins deserve the key to the city and a big bear hug from Gov. Paul LePage…

Gritty’s 25th Anniversary Party is taking place at 4pm today at their Portland location.

Historical Menus & Food Trucks

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

Today’s Press Herald includes an interesting article about the Maine Historical Society’s collection of old menus,

Remember The Roma Cafe, known for ages as “Portland’s most romantic restaurant” and the place you had to take your date on Valentine’s, or else suffer the consequences?

There are also menus for Hu Shang on Exchange Street and the Victory Deli in Monument Square (where Foley’s Bakery is now), both former frequent lunch spots for Press Herald reporters. At the end of the day, when we wanted a cocktail, we went down to Cotton Street Cantina. (On the menu, it’s called Cotton Street Tropical Grill and Bar.)

and passing reference to recommended changes to the food truck regulations (at the very end of the article) made by the Health and Human Services Committee.

The changes would allow food trucks to cluster in certain zones by eliminating a rule that trucks be at least 65 feet from each other. And operators would have to pay only $30 for a permit to operate on private property, rather than $105.

J’s Oyster Bar

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

Maine magazine has posted an article about J’s Oyster Bar that appeared in the July issue.

On the stool to my right sits a slight man in a baseball cap with a gray mustache who tells me, “I was here on opening night back in 1977!” The man is Frank Kimball. He is 75 years old, grew up on Peaks Island, and is a former Navy sailor, postman, drag racer, and husband. He doesn’t eat oysters, but he loves the scallop casserole. “You got to get it,” he says. “The atmosphere is 90 percent of the reason I come here. The rest is the scallop casserole.”

Portland Food History: Valle’s

Sunday, March 17th, 2013

The Portland Maine History Facebook page has posted a history of Valle’s steak house that was founded in Portland and its peak had locations all throughout New England.

Valle’s Steak House began as a 12 seat café in Portland, Maine in 1933, owned by Donald Valle who was born in Lettomanopello, Italy in 1908 and immigrated to the United States in 1912 at the age of four; he married Sue Crone and they had two children Richard and Judith. Before Woodford’s Corner, Valle’s was at 551 Congress Street, but not sure if that was the original location…

Rum Diaries

Sunday, September 30th, 2012

The October issue of Portland Magazine includes a feature article on the history of the rum industry in Maine.

The rough and rowdy history of Maine rum turned violent in the 1850s, as under the growing temperance movement spearheaded by mayor Neal Dow, ‘the Napoleon of Temperance,’ alcohol production and sale of liquor was prohibited. However, it was discovered four years after the passage of the law that Dow himself was keeping large stocks of brandy set aside for ‘medicinal’ purposes–necessary to maintain the temperaments of solid, respectable citizens, of course. But for the working population of the city, alcohol was often their only escape, and many of the rioters decried Dow’s attack on what they viewed as their culture.

Ned Wight from New England Distilling in Portland was interviewed for the article.

Ned Wight, whose Eight Bells Rum hit shelves in September, agrees that it’s not all about the sea. Much of the rum produced in Maine was likely produced in stills in the back of public houses, produced not for bottling and off-site consumption but to be drunk on the premises by the patrons. “To me, that’s the real essence of Maine’s connection to rum, less than sailing or piracy.

Portland’s Restaurant History

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

For anyone interested in the history of Portland’s restaurant scene (that’s all of us, right?), Epicuranoid has published a very interesting history of Portland’s restaurants in the 70′s and 80′s.

Long before The Old Port renaissance, Portland had a hopping restaurant scene.  There was a famous French restaurant named Marcel’s.  Several good steak houses like John Martin’s Art Gallery (where Asylum is now) and many restaurants that did all kinds of seafood baked, broiled & fried.  However, In the time before The Old Port boomed, the last great features of Portland’s restaurant landscape were Italian.  I refer to it as the old Italian guard because much like Boston’s North End today, the Italian restaurants dominated.   Only DiMillo’s was actually in the area we call The Old Port, but the city was littered with the likes of Verillo’s, The Sportsman’s Grill, The Roma, The Village Cafe, Maria’s and my old favorite, Giobbi’s.

If that’s wet your appetite for Portland food history, take a look at the restaurant timeline here on PFM.

Neal and Ricky

Friday, March 30th, 2012

Today’s Portland Daily Sun includes an article on Portland’s prohibitional past and a story about the naming of Rockin’ Ricky’s Tavern,

Back to famous bars though. One of my favorite bar stories is one I was told about Ricky’s, on Portland Street, across from the post office. It seems that when Italy changed sides in the Second World War an Italian submarine navigated into Portland Harbor and turned itself in, and because Italy was in dire straits at the end of the war some of the Italian crewmen decided to stay in this country. They were each given a stake by the federal government to establish themselves in their new country and the story goes that a man named Ricci used his cash to start a tavern on Portland Street, which he named after himself, and over time Ricci’s became anglicized to Ricky’s. Rockin’ Ricky’s Tavern, who would’a thought.

Profile of Pat’s Meat Market

Saturday, April 23rd, 2011

The Portland Daily Sun has published a profile of Pat’s Meat Market.

In the era of “Big Joe” Vacchiano, Jaime’s great-grandfather who immigrated to Portland from Italy and started a butcher’s shop at the base of Munjoy Hill, there was a meat market in every neighborhood. Over time, Pat’s Meat Market held on while others vanished. Jaime Vacchiano said the business pressures are demanding, yielding little in profit, which may explain the scarcity of private butcher shops today. He also theorized that a 24/7 world is inhospitable to an old-fashioned family business built on quality over expediency.

A Trip Down Food Memory Lane

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

Pepperclub co-owner Eddie Fitzpatrick takes a walk down food memory lane for a retrospective article on the 25th anniversary of Portland magazine.

Twenty-five years ago, a new wave of restaurants in Portland dazzled diners and earned raves from The Atlantic and New England Monthly. Among them: Swan Dive, Alberta’s, L’Antibes, Brattle Street, The Vinyard, and 34 Exchange. At the time, Eddie Fitzpatrick was editor of the Maine Sunday Telegram. Today, he co-owns Pepperclub…

In the later part of the article Fitzpatrick also offers his perspective on the last few years of expansion in the restaurant industry in Portland.

A second article later in the magazine also provides another point of view on Portland restaurant past and present.

Back in the ’80′s, Portland had “just about a dozen feature restaurants,” radiating from the restored brick wharehouses of the Old Port, recalls Dick Grotton, president and CEO of the Maine Restaurant Association

The second article isn’t available online but the new issue of Portland magazine should be available at your local newsstand and you can read the article on page 84.

Food History: 1925

Sunday, March 20th, 2011

A pair of vintage photos of Chinese immigrant waiters taking an “Americanization Class” have recently been added to the Maine Memory Network website. The men all worked at either the Empire and the Oriental in Portland. The Empire stood on the corner of Forest Ave and Congress Street where Empire Dine and Dance is today. The Oriental was located at 28 Monument Square in the spot that now houses the Public Market House.

Neon Diner/Gogi

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

Every so often when a new restaurant at is under construction at 653 Congress Street you can catch a glimpse of the old Neon Diner sign (see this recent photo by Corey Templeton). That’s the case now as Gogi, a new Asian fusion restaurant, get’s set to install their new street sign in the old Neon Diner frame. I’ve heard that Gogi hopes to open in March. The Neon Diner was in operation 1991-1995.

4 Star Review of Pai Men Miyake

Sunday, December 19th, 2010

Pai Men Miyake received 4 stars from the Taste & Tell review in the Maine Sunday Telegram.

Spicy miso ($11) from the ramen list gave perfect satisfaction. A half of a hard-boiled egg marinated in soy added some salty protein, and spicy sesame garlic paste revved up the miso broth to the savory thickness and intensity of a kind of Japanese meat glaze. Tons of skinny ramen noodles filled the bowl in which a couple of thick slices of pork belly provided bites of mild and tender meat.

Also in today’s paper are the teenage reminiscences of Congress Street in the 1950s by Martha Pillsbury. In her article she recalls a number of eateries from that era,

It is with sweet thoughts that I remember Soule’s Candy Kitchen and Haven’s Candy. Also, who remembers the State Theatre, the Pagoda Restaurant, State Street Drugs, Hays Drugstore, Your Host Restaurant, Strand Theater and the Puritan Restaurant?

The Puritan was where kids would stop on our way home from high school to eat french fries with gravy, have a Coke, and maybe smoke a first cigarette. West End kids got to know a lot of East End kids at the Puritan.

Under Construction: Gogi Asian Fusion

Friday, December 17th, 2010

Gogi, an Asian fusion restaurant, is under construction at 653 Congress Street. The draft menu (see page 83) includes items like kim chee fries and bulgogi beef tacos. When it opens it will bring a fourth Asian restaurant to Longfellow Square which is already home to Boda, Pai Men Miyake, and King of the Roll.

While that location has changed hands a number of times in the last few years, it has a long history. Influential restaurateur James Ledue ran Zephyr Grill and then Bella Cucina at that spot 1996-2002, for 24 years (1962-1986) it was Soule’s Candy Kitchen and in 1885 Augustus Schlotterbeck ran an apothecary at that address. Schlotterbeck co-founded the flavor extract business Schlotterbeck-Foss that still operates today from a John Calvin Stevens building on Preble Street.

The Salt Exchange Review & the 1855 Portland Rum Riot

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

The new issue of Down East magazine includes a review of The Salt Exchange,

As for the food itself: In a word, it’s stunning — well conceived, delicately balanced, and impeccably presented. Maine lobster salad with crème fraiche, cucumber, and greens is so delicately seasoned as to be a bit bland on first bite. But with successive nibbles the flavors reveal themselves, the slight tang of the crème fraiche creating a perfect complement to the lobster’s richness.

and an article about the 1855 Portland Rum Riot,

Men loitered in the square with an air of impatience. A cache of liquor had been seized in the basement of City Hall, Racklyffe was told. The rumor circulating that day was that the liquor belonged to Portland’s mayor, Neal Dow, the “Father of Prohibition” himself.

Chewing Gum, Maine Food History and Academic Success

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

An article in Tuesday’s edition of the Portland Daily Sun writes about the history of chewing gum in Maine and research that shows chewing gum boosts academic performance by 3%.

Eventually demand grew beyond what the Bangor kitchen could produce so Curtis and family set up a facility in Portland. The business continued to grow, eventually employing 200 people who produced 1800 boxes of gum a day. the three-story factory was located on Fore Street in the building now occupied by Hub Furniture. By the late 1870s, Curtis had earned enough from the masticating masses that he was able to build a home in Deering Center that was the largest and most expensive home at the time.

So many restaurants opening . . . will it ever end?

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

In 1977 the Maine Times published an article entitled “Why are so many restaurants opening in Portland and will it ever end?” According to the article,

Ten years ago [1967], Portland was practically without restaurants. The Roma . . . was almost alone in trying to serve food that was not pre-portioned and pre-packaged. Then came the Gaslight on Exchange Street, then the Old Port Tavern and then it seemed to explode.

Author Mark Mogensen asked several restauranteurs about whether a “saturation point” had been reached—quite ironic given the ever growing number of eateries to be found in the city in 2010.

Opinions ranged from “it’s fast approaching” from the owner of the Hollow Reed* to “I think the saturation point has been reached” from Charles McGee, co-owner of the Old Port Tavern.

I wonder what they would say about the Portland restaurant scene of today?

The Maine Times article also includes the earliest reference I’ve ever seen to the “most restaurants per capita” stat.

“Christ there’s a lot of them” [Portland license inspector Ed] Newbegin said. From a survey, Newbegin said he learned that “Portland Maine, per capita, has the highest population of restaurants in the U.S.”

*Reportedly Portland’s first vegetarian restaurant.

Farmers Market History

Monday, April 26th, 2010

The Portland Farmers Market has published an overview of its 242 year history.

In 1768, the town, voted to establish a public market in the lower part of the Town Hall. A town ordinance provided that all fresh meat could be offered for sale only at this market. The market served 136 families on the peninsula.

Provisions were carried into town in large leather saddlebags or paniers on horses backs and it was not until about 1815 that horse wagons were generally used.

I’ve added the Farmers Market, B&M, Schlotterbeck-Foss, Mister Bagel, Zeitman’s Grocery, and George’s Delicatessen to the Portland Food Timeline.

Portland’s Living Food History

Monday, April 19th, 2010

The launch of new restaurants and markets is always exciting news on PFM, a lot of time is spent staying on top of the Comings, and sometimes the Goings, but rarely on the Still Here’s.  So I thought it would be worth taking a moment to take notice of the other end of the spectrum—those in business for more than 20 years.

Here’s what I have so far. Please email me at anestes@portlandfoodmap.com with additions and corrections.

Note: There have been a lot of additions (and some subtractions) since this page first went live. I’ll be keeping this page up to date as I learn more. (3/19/2011)

1768Portland Farmers Market has a very long heritage that predates the founding of the United States and the establishment of Maine as a state.

1866Schlotterbeck-Foss is a “purveyors of specialty foods and fine flavors” that’s headquartered in a John Calvin Stevens building on Preble Street in Bayside. The company was founded in Portland by Augustus G. Schlotterbeck and Charles S. Foss.

1867– the Burnham & Morrill Company, maker of B&M Baked Beans was founded in Portland by George Burnham and Charles S. Morrill. The firm has canned numerous different products including corn, lobster and clams over the 140+ year history. It wasn’t until 1927 that they started producing their iconic Baked Beans—a product line that continues to this day at the B&M factory in Portland. Since 1965 the B&M brand has been owned by one company or another; they’re currently a subsidiary of B&G.

1883Hannaford Bros. was established by Arthur Hannaford, who was later joined in the business by his brothers Howard and Edward. They started by selling produce from their family farm in Cape Elizabeth.

1902Amato’s was founded by Giovanni Amato who sold “fresh baked rolls filled with meat, cheese and fresh vegetables to his fellow countrymen working the docks. “

1915Haven’s Candies was founded by Herbert Haven. Haven’s was originally located at 500 Forest Ave just down the road from their current location.

1921Oakhurst Dairy was founded by Stanley T. Bennett at 332 Woodford Street on December 21, 1921. The dairy later moved to their present location on Forest Ave.

1934 – the Eastland Park Hotel opened during prohibition on June 15, 1927. At that time the top floor was known as the Sun Parlor. After prohibition was repealed in 1933 it was turned into the Top of the East cocktail lounge.

1935 – Harry Nanos ran a confectionery shop at 469 Stevens Ave from 1926 until he sold the business to Samuel Brown in 1935. Brown renamed it  Janette Quality Shop and 2 years later the name was shortened to simply Quality Shop. It wasn’t until 1970 that the business moved to its current location at 473 Stevens Ave.

1939 – John Smaha bought the Columbia Market in South Portland from his brother Herb and renamed it Smaha’s Legion Square Market. Tom Smaha bought took over the business from his father in 1967.

1945Joe’s Smoke Shop was founded by Joseph L. Discatio.

1946PJ Merrill Seafood was established by Paul J. Merrill after he completed his service in the Navy during WW II. It’s now run by the 2nd generation: John, Tim and Jim Merrill.

1947 – Both Eddie’s Variety and Vaughan Street Variety were started in 1947.  Pizza by Angelone was Maine’s first pizza shop. It was started by John V. “Jack” Angelone and his wife Carol on Veranda Street. Jack taught a man named C.D. Farnsworth how to make pizza and CD “Pat” Farnsworth founded the chain of Pat’s Pizza. Kristie Green, the founder of Maple’s Organics is the granddaughter of Jack Angelone. She credits him as the source for the entrepreneurial spirit that prompted her to start her own business.

1949Micucci’s Grocery was started by Leo and Iris Micucci. The store’s current location at 45 India Street didn’t open until 1965. The Miss Portland Diner originally opened in February 1949 at 175 Forest Ave, and in 1964 moved to Marginal Way near the intersection with Hanover Street. After closing up the business in 2004, then owner Randy Chasse donated the lunch car to the City of Portland. The city sold the diner to Portland native Tom Manning who situated the diner at its present location on Marginal Way and reopened it October 31, 2008. The diner car was built by the Worcester Lunch Car Company, and is No. 818. Joseph Botto opened Botto’s Bakery on Washington Ave. Botto sold the business to Everett Mathews in 1982 whose family continues to run the bakery.

1951 – there have been grocery stores operating at 484 Stevens Ave–where Pat’s Meat Market is located–since the early part of the 20th Century, and over the years it’s been bought and sold numerous times. Pat’s Meat Market was started by Pat Vacchiano. He and his family have operated meat markets in Portland since 1917 when Pat’s father opened the Sanitary Meat Market on the corner of Middle and India Streets.

1952Red’s Dairy Freeze in South Portland was opened by Leonard “Red” Bolling who operated it as a Tastee Freeze franchise until 1965 when Bolling went independent. Vivian’s Drive-In was established by Vivian L. Vintinner who sold it to Joyce Perry in 1964 who then sold it to the current owner Donna Morgan in 1995.

1955Barber Foods was founded by Augustus Barber who passed away in 2008. The business was originally called Barber Beef.

1956Moran’s Market was founded by Bernard Larsen and his brother-in-law Thomas Moran. Moran died a few years later. Larsen and his wife Dorothy ran the store for many years and it’s now managed by their children.

1959DiPietro’s Market.

1960Anthony and Madeline Napolitano established Maria’s Ristorante and their sons Anthony and Gregory now run the restaurant.

1963Anania’s was founded by Ed Anania Sr. Ed Anania Jr. and his wife Barbara now run the business.

1965Tony’s Donut Shop was started by Antonio Fournier. The shop was originally located across the street in the present day location of Anania’s. Fournier had run a wholesale bakery in Westbrook from 1950 until moving to Portland and opening the donut shop. Pizza Villa was started by Mike Regios, an immigrant from Greece. Sons Tony and Phil now co-own the pizzeria. Their dad opened the shop as a way to augment his income as a tailor.

1966Sangillo’s was started by Adam Sangillo Sr. The bar is now run by his granddaughter.

1969Harbor Fish Market was established by Ben Alfiero Sr. and he passed the business own to his three sons Nick, Ben and Mike. The Lobster Shack was founded by Ruth and Jim Leadbetter and it’s now run by their grandson and his wife. Lib’s Dairy Treats served its first ice cream cone in 1969.

1972 – Amigo’s

1973Old Port Tavern

1975Bubba’s Sulky Lounge was started in 1960 by Robert “Bubba” Larkin as Bubba’s Cafe. In 1975 the Sulky Lounge opened at that location and in 1979 the building was replaced after a fire. Forest Gardens and Paul’s Food Center were also both started in 1975. Paul’s was founded by Paul Trusiani.

1976Pizza Joint and Espo’s both started in 1976. At some point in its life Espo’s changed its name from Esposito’s Restaurant to Espo’s Trattoria.

1977Mister Bagel was opened by Eric J. Hartglass on June 2nd. J’s Oyster Bar was founded by Janice “J” Noyes who had a “fascination” with raw bars and decided to start her own.

1978Tortilla Flat

1979The Great Lost Bear was founded by Dave & Weslie Evans and Chip MacConnell. The bar was originally known as The Grizzly Bear but changed their name in 1981 after a legal challenge from an existing West coast operation called Grizzly Bear Pizza.

1980Dock Fore was founded by sisters Susan and Nancy Hezlep in the space that had long been the home of Zeitman’s Grocery Store. In 1980 Three Dollar Deweys opened at the intersection of Union and Fore before moving around the corner in 1995 to their location on Commercial Street.

1981Wok Inn was started by Ricky Yue, Edward Whitney and John Mui, and Bruno’s opened at its original location at 43 India Street.

1982DiMillo’s Floating Restaurant was started by Tony DiMillo. He had run a series of restaurants in Portland dating back to 1954 when he started Anthony’s on Fore Street. The restaurant is now run by Tony’s sons Steven and Johnny and his grandson Steven Jr. Ruski’s opened for business in 1982 and in 1985 R. Steven Harris bought the bar. He and his wife Rose (the namesake of Rosie’s) operated the restaurant until 2005 when it was sold to Josh Whaley, a longtime customer.

1983Geno’s Rock Club was founded by Geno D’Alessandro. The club was originally located on Brown Street. According to The Bollard, D’Alessandro had also “owned the bar formerly known as The Brass Rail, on Forest Avenue, and had owned and operated various other eating and drinking establishments in New England.” The Dry Dock was founded, and back in 1983 Mark Gatti thought he’d run Mark’s Hot Dogs for “just a couple years”. Decades later he’s a fixture on the corner of Exchange and Middle Streets, rain or shine. Must See TV: watch this excellent documentary on Mark’s.

1984Dyer’s Variety.

1985 – Portland’s first sushi restaurant, Sapporo, was founded by Yoshi Hayashi. It opened for business on Apil 13, 1985 at its original location 24 Free Street. Hayashi’s cousin Takahiro Sato was the founder of Yosaku. 1985 also marked the opening of the Madd Apple Cafe that later turned into BiBo’s Madd Apple Cafe. It’s also the year that Ricky’s Tavern, aka Rockin’ Ricky’s Tavern, opened.

1986David and Karen Geary established Portland’s and New England’s first microbrewery, DL Geary Brewing Co. The first run of beer went on sale December 10, 1986. The Wharf Street Cafe and Wine Bar opened in 1986, several years later it moved across the street and was renamed The Wine Bar. The Old Port Tavern Billiards and the Portland Fish Exchange also opened in 1986, as did The Good Table in Cape Elizabeth.

1987Rosie’s was started by Steve Harris and his wife Rose for whom the restaurant is named. Also in 1987, Blackstones opened their doors, and  Full Belly Deli was started by David Rosen “with the help and Guidance of the late George Bress” (see below for more on George’s Delicatessen).

1988 – Steve Quatrucci founded The Back Bay Grill and 2 years later he sold it to Joel Freund. Then in 2002 Freund sold it to Larry Matthews who had been the Executive Chef since 1997. Cakes Extraordinaire first opened their doors in 1988. Gritty McDuff’s,Portland’s “first brewpub since prohibition ended”, was co-founded by Richard Pfeffer, Ed Stebbins, William Stebbins, and Jon Soule. Silly’s was established by Deidre and Stephanie Nice. It was originally located at 147 Cumberland Ave and moved to its current location in 1997. Silly’s was purchased by current owner Colleen Kelley in 2002. Portland House of Pizza was founded on August 25, 1988 by Mike Orr; it was originally located two doors down from its present location on Washington Ave.

1989 – 1989 was a banner year for restaurants that have stood the test of time: Ken Ng opened Panda Garden, Dana Street opened Street & Co., Susan Eklund opened Susan’s Fish & Chips, Eddie Fitzpatrick and Mary Ledue Paine opened Pepperclub, Jiraporn Koonyosyint opened Sala Thai, and Hi Bombay!, Brea Lu Cafe, Jan Mee, Marcy’s the Armory Lounge, Vespucci’s, and Parker’s all opened their doors for the first time. ISF Trading, a export wholesaler of sea urchins to Japan, was also founded in 1989.

1990 – fish wholesaler Nova Seafood.

1991Becky’s Diner opened on March 13, 1991. Daniel Way Peters and Gretchen Bates opened Katahdin; the restaurant moved from it’s original location on High Street in 2010.

1993Saeng Thai House and Brian Boru were founded.

And here are few spots from Portland’s past that had especially long runs or are otherwise notable:

Boone’s Restaurant (1898 – 200?) you can still see the sign on Commercial Street near Ri Ra.

The Empire Restaurant (1916 – 1953) a popular Chinese restaurant that had been at the present day location of Empire Dine and Dance on the corner of Congress Street and Forest Ave. According to an article in the Press Herald was, Empire Restaurant was “one of the swankiest places in Portland to have dinner” when it first opened. Portland’s very first Chinese restaurant was opened 36 years earlier by Ar Tee Lam in 1880 on Custom House Wharf.

Zeitman’s Grocery Store (1918 – 1980) was started as a variety store by Bessie Zeitman at 443 Fore Street. In 1922 she moved the business to it’s long time location at 336 Fore Street. Mrs. Zeitman ran a variety store, lunch counter, lodging house, and cigar shop before opening a grocery store in 1953.

Roma Cafe (1924 – 2009) was opened by Dominic Marino at its original location, 489 Congress Street. In 1935 it moved to 769 Congress in the West End. The restaurant remained in the Marino family until 1985 when it was bought by Peter Landrigan, a former Hannaford Brothers VP.

Amergian Bros. (1928 – 200?) was a neighborhood market located at the corner of Chestnut and Oxford Streets. It was one of the last vestiges of Portland’s once visible and vibrant Armenian community in Bayside. The sign for the store can still be see when you drive up Chestnut towards Cumberland Ave.

Valle’s (1933 – 2000) was founded by Donald Valle in 1933. It started as a bar called Valle’s Cafe in Woodfords Corner and eventually evolved into a steak house restaurant chain that stretched from Maine to Florida. The Valle’s on Brighton Ave opened in 1960 and closed unexpectedly in 2000.

George’s Delicatessen (1934 – 1976) was run for 42 years by George Bress.

The Village Cafe (1936 – 2007) the family Italian restaurant was started by Vincenzo Reali, his son Amedeo Reali and grandson John operated the restaurant until it closed in December 2007.

Espans Quick Lunch (1948 – 2007)

Terroni’s Market (1949 – 2011) was opened by Florence Terroni. The business changed hands in 2004 and the new owner closed the market in 2011. Sheila Cunningham worked at the market since she was 15 and had booked 44 years there by the time it had closed.

The Sportman’s Grill (1952-1999) was run by Jim, Tony and John “Sonny” Severino and John’s son Paul.

The Gaslight (196? – 19??) was run by Richard and Elizabeth DeFranco.

F. Parker Reidy’s (1976 – 2001) was located on Exchange Street adjacent to Post Office Park. It was a longtime fixture in the city dating back to the early days of the Old Port as a retail and dining destination.

The Hollow Reed (1974 – 1981) was opened by Victoria Jahn, Bobbi Goodman and Frank LaTorre  on February 7, 1974. It was Portland’s first vegetarian restaurant.

F. Parker Reidy’s (1976 – 2001) was located on Exchange Street adjacent to Post Office Park. It was a longtime fixture in the city dating back to the early days of the Old Port as a retail and dining destination.

Carbur’s (1977 – 1997) was founded by Richard McNeill. The sandwich shop was part of the rebirth of the Old Port and for 20 years was a mainstay eatery in the area.

Do you have some additional details about Portland’s food history to share, or corrections to some of the details posted above? Drop me a line at anestes@portlandfoodmap.com with your additions and corrections and I’ll update the time line.

The information in this timeline comes from many many sources. Records at the Maine Historical Society and the old newspaper microfilms in the Portland Room of the Portland Public Library has been especially useful as have their very knowledgeable staff. The information on Chinese restaurants comes from Garry Libby’s 2006 article in Chinese America: History and Perspectives. Individual restaurant owners have provided details about their own establishments. The Bollard has been a very good source of information on bars and pubs.

Donut History

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

The new issue of Down East has an article about Maine’s place in doughnut history complete with a list of some of the state’s standout “iconic doughnut shops”. Included in the list in Portland’s very own Tony’s Donut Shop.