Congress Bar & Grill Changing Hands

Restaurateurs, Jason Loring and Mike Fraser, are in the process of buying Congress Bar & Grill.

They plan to keep the restaurant’s casual feel and will be putting in place an approachable “tavern style” food that will be a departure from the menu at Nosh. They aspire to have a great bar with great food that balances value and quality serving lunch and dinner. Loring shared he’s dedicated to keeping the restaurant an affordable alternative place to eat in the city.

Loring and Fraser plan to close the restaurant for a couple months for some renovations to the space. It will re-open under the name CBG. The atmosphere they’re aiming for is “like your eccentric uncle’s basement bar”. The reconfigured CBG will open the space and make the bar more a focal point.

Loring is in the process of recruiting a chef for Congress Bar & Grill. If you’re interested in interviewing for the position, email

The restaurant at 617 Congress Street began life as Norm’s Bar & Grill and changed names to Congress Bar & Grill in 2011 when the ownership changed.

Pat’s, Skordo, Anania’s

Here are a few more updates on closings, expansion and ownership changes:

  • Anania’s Variety has announced they plan to close their store on Broadway in South Portland. According to their post on Instagram, Anania’s had sold that store to another owner a year ago and that individual has decided to move on.
    Historical Note: Anania’s was originally founded by Joseph Anania in 1956 as the Newbury Street Market and was located on Newbury Street.
  • The Press Herald reports that Pat’s Pizza on Market Street has changed hands. Pat’s will temporarily close as part of the transition.
  • Old Port kitchen store Skordo has announced plans to open an additional location at the Maine Mall

Changes in the Restaurant Landscape

The Bangor Daily News has taken a look at the factors impacting recent changes in the restaurant landscape in Portland.

Locals assert that the wave of sudden closures smacks of gentrification — which is fair, and also related to the workforce shortage. Rising rents have displaced the city’s typically younger ( and indebted) service-industry workers into suburbs like South Portland and Westbrook, making it hard for restaurants to retain staff, whose wages often depend on tips that can dry up in the winter months when tourism dwindles.

Conde Nast Traveler Portland Guides

Conde Nast Traveler has published a set of articles about Portland that highlight their picks for the:

CN Traveler ha also published an article about Maine Food for Thought tours,

Sarah and Bryce Hack, the married couple behind the tour, are consummate professionals who know their Maine food—not to mention all the ways Maine’s complex food system, its agricultural policy, farm-to-table ethos, economic challenges, and historic dedication to high-quality foods yields the creative dishes Portland restaurants are known for. Their delivery is eloquent and fascinating, organized and well-rehearsed.

Bubble Tea Shop Coming to Longfellow Square

A new bubble tea shop called Uncharted Tea (website, facebook, instagram) is under construction at 662 Congress Street in Longfellow Square. Owners Michael Bowser and Emma Vonderheide plan to serve a menu of “inspired bubble tea”.

Uncharted Tea specializes in handcrafted Bubble Tea that is brewed fresh every cup. We use local and premium sourced ingredients and strive to be environmentally friendly. Our shop will welcome customers into a warm, open space with comfortable seating to relax and gather.

Bowser and Vonderheide haven’t set an opening day yet for Uncharted Tea.


This Week’s Events: Mister T’s Night Market, Montenidoli Dinner, Full Plates Event

MondayMister Tuna will be serving a sold out omakase dinner with guest chef Sang Lee and dessert by Atsuko Fujimoto.

TuesdayGiant is holding their monthly Hush Hush event.

Wednesday – the Monument Square Farmers’ Market is taking place.

FridaySolo Italiano is holding a wine dinner with special guest winemaker Elizabetta Fagiuoli of Montenidoli, and it’s the first of a 2-day tap takeover of the Rooms restaurants by Mason Brewing.

Saturday – the Deering Oaks Farmers’ Market is taking place.

Sunday – A Full Plates Full Potential dinner is taking place at the Inn by the Sea in Cape Elizabeth with chefs from Union, Evo, Sur Lie, David’s and Five Fifty-Five.

For more information on these and other upcoming food happenings in the area, visit the event calendar.

If you are holding a food event this week that’s not listed above, publicize it by adding it as a comment to this post.

Maine Meets Miami Pop-up Series

BlueFin restaurant in the Portland Harbor Hotel is launching a Maine Meets Miami pop-up series.

First up is chef Micheal Beltran from Ariete Coconut Grove. The dinner is taking place September 26th and tickets are now on sale, 5-course with wine pairings (tax and tip included) for $125.

BlueFin’s chef, Gil Plaster, was born and raised in Miami. Future dinners in the series will feature Bravo’s Top Chef Season 13 winner Jeremy Ford of Afishonado and Stubborn Seed, in addition to Daniel Roy, Executive Chef of Generator, a boutique hotel on Miami Beach.