Andrew Ross on Takeout

Andrew Ross has temporarily put down his critic’s pen, to write about the takeout food available during the corona virus pandemic.

For the duration of this public health crisis (and please don’t delude yourself into thinking it’s anything other than a crisis), I will not say anything critical about any restaurant or food business. To do so in such a brittle economic environment would feel mean-spirited and irresponsible.

Instead, I’ll share a few of my personal experiences exploring how to dine (and drink) in, while still engaging with our state’s remarkable food-and-beverage businesses.

Note: Since this article was written Drifters Wife has put their food service on hold.

Pivoting from Craft Spirits to Hand Sanitizer

Maine distilleries are making a change from producing craft spirits to hand sanitizer:

Feeding the Frontline

A growing number of local food businesses are signing on for Feeding the Frontline—a program that enlists the public to enable restaurants to provide free meals to healthcare providers, first responders and other groups impacted by and assisting with the current crisis.

Here’s a list of participating organizations:

    • Woodford F&B – got the ball rolling on FTF in Portland when they started delivering their delicious cheeseburger. Use their online form to contribute.
    • Batson River – will be delivering pizzas as part of their Feeding the Frontline program. They’re in the process of setting “Donate a Pie” option on their website.
    • Coffee by Design – has set-up up their Feeding the Frontline program through their Coffee By Design Cares initiative which will deliver brewed coffee and partnering with Bam Bam Bakery to offer gluten-free treats. Use their online order form to support their efforts.
    • LB Kitchen – “With your help, we’d like to offer as many lunches as we can per week to the courageous team at the Maine Medical Center Emergency Room and COVID Response Unit.” You can support their efforts online.
    • Luke’s Lobster – is delivering lobster roll kits. Call (207) 274-6097 to contribute.
    • Noble Pizza – “has partnered with Maine Medical Center in the coming weeks to provide square pies to their well deserved staff. If you would like to help #feedthefront you can buy a pizza ($10) on our online menu under the Feeding the Frontlines Menu Item.
      After three weeks of operating Noble Pizza we feel these square pies could be a perfect item to drop for the staff and hope you feel the same!”
    • Otto Pizza – is now participating. You can support their efforts by making a contribution online.
    • Rivalries – is donating a bowl of soup for every family dinner ordered.
    • Rosemont Market – is delivering meal boxes to healthcare works at Maine Medical Center. Fill out the Feed the Frontline section when placing your next order with Rosemont to contribute.
    • Solo Italiano – is delivering lasagne. Use their online order form to contribute.
    • Union – “Every takeout dinner purchased directly contributes to grab n’ go lunches for Maine Medical personnel that will be provided by UNION. If you order a meal from us, you are also giving a meal to a community member in the front line of this pandemic.”
    • Maine Flag Company – the Maine Flag Company is selling a Heart of it All and devoting profits to “help Portland restaurants feed healthcare workers on the front lines of the outbreak”.

For additional information on Feeding the Frontline in Maine, see this article from the Press Herald.

While not associated with Feeding the Frontline, some other businesses are doing what they can to help others. Here are a couple I have heard about recently:

Food Delivery Big & Small

The Bangor Daily News has a report on a small volunteer organization delivering food in Portland,

Later that day, the group delivered some 600 meals worth of rice and beans on the doorsteps of people they identified in some of the city’s most vulnerable neighborhoods, such as Parkside, East Bayside and the affordable housing complexes in Sagamore Village and Munjoy South.

and the Press Herald has a report on how LL Bean is helping the Good Shepherd Food bank deliver to food pantries.

The outdoors retailer is partnering with Maine’s largest food bank, Good Shepherd. The company’s workers will sort and package food in boxes that the Good Shepherd Food Bank will ship to food pantries in all 16 counties.

Cashiers on the Frontline

The Press Herald has published an article about how the working lives of cashiers and markets and groceries have changed.

Operations at the Rosemont Market & Bakery in Portland’s West End changed quickly last week. On Tuesday there was a limit of five customers inside the store at a time. By Wednesday only curbside pickup was allowed, with employees filling orders taken over the phone or online and handing off the groceries outside the shop.

Solo Cucina Market to Open Wednesday

Solo Cucina Market (websitefacebookinstagram) is planning to go ahead and open this Wednesday. Their hours will be 11 am to 4 pm.

The market is a collaboration between the owners of The Farm Stand in South Portland and Solo Italiano. The market will feature a bakery and Solo Cucina will sell fresh pasta and sauces prepared foods to go in addition to the meats, dairy, wine, beer and produce that The Farm Stand has become known for.

At this time of restaurant closings it’s so encouraging to see a new business taking the leap and opening for the first time.

Governor Order Restaurants to Close Dining Rooms

An emergency order from the Governor:

Under authority granted to her in a civil state of emergency, Governor Janet Mills today issued an Executive Order mandating that all restaurants and bars statewide close to dine-in customers effective today, March 18, 2020 at 6:00 p.m. for a period of 14 days until midnight, March 31, 2020. Take-out, delivery, and drive-through options can continue.

Feeding the Frontline (Updated)

Woodford F&B is participating in the Feeding the Frontline project.

We’re fielding mounting questions from near & far about how best for people to help. We think #FeedingtheFrontline is a good answer. Starting tomorrow, we’ll be making daily deliveries of our delicious cheese burger to local folks on the front line of this situation. We plan to do this in increments of 5 burgers, and we’ll do as many as we can. The initial list of recipients we’re targeting includes local hospitals & nearby assisted living facilities, but we’ll work to grow the list quickly & welcome recommendations.

To support their effort call them to purchase any increments of 5 burgers to be delivered to a local organization. (207) 200-8503.

Solo Italiano has joined Woodford in this initiative. Every $100 purchase will provide 5 lasagne to those assisting the elderly, sick and needy with weekly deliveries on Thursdays. Solo will be directing proceeds will go to “the staff we are retaining as well as to an in-house relief fund to the rest of our staff that has been laid off.”

Luke’s has joined in too. They’re “donating 50 lobster rolls in our DIY Lobster Roll Kits to the incredible workers on the front lines in Maine, donating to a different hospital each day.”