Lifting the Curse

Today’s Maine Sunday Telegram takes a look at a few challenging restaurant spaces and the factors that have contributed to their high turnover over the years.

A closer examination of what’s happened in some of the high-turnover restaurant spaces in the Old Port – the heart of Portland’s huge restaurant scene – show that, although each space and each occupant has its own story, challenges like size, location and rising rents played into the succession of relatively short stays. For those that have broken the pattern, it’s taken a special ingredient.

Survey of Newest Crop of Food Trucks

In lieu of a restaurant review, the Maine Sunday Telegram has published a survey of some of newest food trucks/carts with recommendations on what to order when you go.

But what about the newcomers? Over the past several weeks, I visited eight rookie carts and trucks, all in their first or second season. From spruce-tip-flavored ice cream to Cambodian sandwiches, their creative, sometimes zany offerings showcase how kitchens on wheels can expand and enhance the diversity of Portland’s dining options.

Flea Bites in Congress Square

The first Flea Bites of the season is taking place today at Congress Square Park, 11am – 3pm.

Mobile food vendors Mr. Tuna, Eighty 8 Donut Cafe, Pizza by Fire, Hakka Me, Little Bee Honey Ice Cream, and El Rodeo will all be participating.

Fleabites food truck/cart events are planned Monthly through October on July 15th, August 19th, September 16th and October 21st.

Under Construction: 371

New owners are taking over the longtime bar Forest Gardens at 371 Forest Ave, and renaming it 371.

Lindsay and Tyler Holden write in their cover letter that the name change was a request from the building owner, but despite the new name they

plan is to keep the tradition, camaraderie and familiarity the current patrons have come to know and love since 1936 the same as it currently exists. With the retirement of the current owner we feel privileged to take on this task.

A New Web Site for Portland Food Map

Welcome to the newly redesigned Portland Food Map website — the first overhaul in nearly 11 years in operation.

As you can see the new site has an updated visual design while preserving the familiar structure and core features of the PFM 1.0. Behind the curtain is a flexible new technical platform that will make it much easier to keep the site updated with all the latest news and information. The site delivers content in a much more responsive, mobile friendly format, and integrates feeds from the PFM instagram and twitter accounts, adding new dimensions to the information available through the site. There’s also a new integrated search feature that indexes the entire restaurant directory and nearly 8,000 blog posts from the past decade the site’s been in business.

To celebrate the new site, I’m also releasing a limited-edition offline version: a pocket-sized printed Portland Food Map. You can pick-up your copy while supplies last at the Little Giant market in the West End, Maine & Loire in the East End, Portland Trading Co. in the Old Port, and Rose Foods on Forest Ave.

Portland Food Map has been supported in this evolution by Evergreen Credit Union, the first sponsor for PFM. Evergreen was looking for opportunities to promote resources that are important to the culture and vibe of the Portland community, and I’m honored that Portland Food Map was chosen as one of them. They’ve been terrific and a true partner in this big step forward for PFM.

Also crucial to the relaunch has been Dawn Hagin from the marketing consulting firm Rare Bird Strategic, Sarah Hines and her web development team at Shines & Jecker Laboratories, and graphic designer Sofija Razgaitis.

I hope you enjoy the new site!

Portland Wine Week

The Press Herald has published an article on Portland Wine Week, which is taking place next week June 18-24.

Archer, a sommelier, is best known for her business Wine Wise, which educates people about wine as they sample food at a fine local restaurant, walk the streets of the Old Port, or take a sunset sail around Casco Bay. In January, she began planning the first Portland Wine Week (June 18-24), and in just five short months – with the help of sponsors, more than two dozen restaurants, and a long list of local wine enthusiasts – the affair has grown exponentially into a celebration rivaling Portland’s other big food-and-wine festival, Harvest on the Harbor.

Under Construction: Knitting Nook

A hybrid coffee shop/cafe/knitting shop called the Knitting Nook (website, facebook) is under construction in South Portland. Owner Lillian Rose is converting a space at 124 Sawyer Street in Ferry Village for her new buiness. She plans to “provide an entertaining environment where the fiber artist can obtain supplies, guidance, camaraderie, sustenance and impeccable customer service” along with coffee, food, beer and wine.