Magnus in the Park

Magnus on Water reopened last week for service on their patio. As they scale up the menu for that aspect of their business, the team is also working on a new project.

Magnus hopes to open a food truck across Water Street in Mechanics Park overlooking the Saco River. Serving out of a converted Airstream, Magnus will be offering a more casual scaled down menu that customers can enjoy in the park.

Andrew Zarro

Andrew Zarro (website, instagram) the co-owner of Little Woodfords, has thrown his hat into the ring as a candidate for the District 4 City Council seat. Zarro makes the case that his perspective as a small business owner is central to what he can contribute to leadership in Portland on the City Council.

Owning and operating a small business is challenging on a good day. It’s also one of the most wonderfully rewarding contributions to make to your community. I opened my first shop three years ago in woodfords corner because I wanted to invest in our neighborhood and be the change I wished to see. COVID-19 changed the landscape in our city, and small businesses are facing a mass extinction without the continued support from federal, state and municipal governments. We need a voice on our council that understands the needs of Portland’s small businesses both on and off peninsula, the nuances of our neighborhoods and the empathy of someone who knows these struggles first hand.

Truck Tracking Merger

Two of the food truck tracking platforms we wrote about in late June have joined forces. Food Trux which has just recently launched in Denver, Colorado has acquired Maine Food Truck Tracker, a Portland company that provided a web-based app/service for Maine food trucks.

FoodTrux CEO Matthew Noone is also excited about the possibilities presented by this deal: “Because Maine Food Truck Tracker was first in the local market with more than 50% of the state’s food trucks signed up, I couldn’t be more excited to merge with them. The fact that both companies are based here in Portland, our home market for, just makes this collaboration all the more beneficial for us and the food truck operators.

Vertical Harvest Coming to Maine

An urban farming company called Vertical Harvest (website, facebook, instagram, twitter) is planning to build their second hydroponic  vertical greenhouse in downtown Westbrook. Co-founders Nona Yehia and Caroline Estay expect to start construction in 2021.

Vertical Harvest provides “consistent, meaningful employment” for people with intellectual and physical disabilities. Their focus is to “create partnerships to build cost effective, profitable hydroponic farms that will not only act as innovative urban models for growing fresh food, but will have a substantial social impact.”

The 70,000 square-foot Vertical Harvest Westbrook located on Mechanic Street will initially grow a variety of microgreens and lettuces. It’s estimated this vertical farm will produce a million pounds of produce per year. In addition to wholesale partnerships with hospitals, corporate cafeterias, schools, chefs, restaurants, caterers and more, the Westbrook location will also have a consumer marketplace and plans for a presence at farmer’s markets.

The company anticipates bringing 50 full-time equivalent jobs to Westbrook.

Vertical Harvest got their start in 2016 with the launch of their first vertical greenhouse in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Co-founder Nona Yehia stated, “We have felt a kinship with Maine for quite some time. At our beginning stages 10 years ago, Vertical Harvest Jackson engaged the same engineer as Backyard Farms in Madison, Maine. Wyoming and Maine have more in common than just a four-to-five month grow season and drastic seasonal climates – they have polar rural and urban areas, there is deep rooted respect for the environment, the farming and food communities are a source of pride, and there is a sense of responsibility to serve the job and food insecure population. With our second location for Vertical Harvest, we feel honored to become a part of this special state and Westbrook community.”

A documentary about Vertical Harvest called Hearts of Glass was recently released. Here’s an excerpt from the film.

Little Easy Snoballs

A new food truck called Little Easy Snoballs (website, instagram, facebook) is in the final stage of development and owner Lauren Gauthier plans to launch Little Easy in the next couple of weeks.

Gauthier (on left in photo) always wanted to have her own snoball stand while growing up in Southern Louisiana. After she and her wife Cassie Pruyn moved to Portland last summer Gauthier began working on Little Easy to bring a taste of home with her.

Snoball flavors on tap for Little Easy will include standards like “nectar cream, wedding cake, tigers blood (combo of watermelon, coconut, and strawberry), ice cream, rainbow (strawberry, ice cream and bubble gum), cotton candy.” Gauthier also plans to serve a rotating list of house-made flavors such as “raspberry-mint, Thai tea, chai latte, cafe au lait, strawberry rhubarb, lemonade, limeade”. Customers will be able to get their snoballs  “topped with marshmallow fluff, condensed milk or stuffed…[with] ice cream in the middle.”

Gauthier plans to locate Little Easy on Back Cove on weekdays and on the Eastern Prom on weekends. The truck will also be available for catering.

Browne Trading Rebuilding Store

Back in mid-April, a three alarm fire knocked the Browne Trading retail store on Commercial Street out of commission. The retail shop is in the process of being redesign and rebuilt.

Like before the new Browne Trading shop will sell seafood, caviar, wine and other provisions. The shop will also feature a more robust seafood smokehouse operation than before with two full time seafood smoking experts on staff.

Browne Trading hopes to relaunch this fall.

Drifters Wife Closes Permanently

Orenda and Peter Hale have shared their decision to permanently close Drifters Wife, their outstanding and award-winning restaurant on Washington Ave.

We will try to be as concise as possible for your sake, but mostly for ours, because this is very difficult to say: we have decided to close Drifters Wife. After 5 years in business, as of last Fall, we were finally debt free. Now, just months into the Covid pandemic, that is no longer the case. We need to adapt to what is happening in the world right now. We will keep our beloved space at 59 Washington Avenue but need to re-imagine what’s inside.

The announcement goes on to say, “When the time is right and it’s safe, we will open the doors to the shop and to this new space: a space with you, all, in mind, where we can gather closely with loud music, and share a drink. Or many.”

The Hale’s wine shop Maine & Loire remains in business. You can learn more about what they have in stock via their instagram account and place a order for contactless curbside pick-up by phoning (207) 805-1336.

Drifters chef Ben Jackson is a 2020 Beard Award nominee in the Best Chef Northeast Category—the 2020 award winners will be announced in late September. Jackson is collaborating with More & Co. on a private dinner series at the More & Co location in Yarmouth. Dates are still available in August and September.

Here are just a few of the many photos I have taken over the years at Drifters.

2020 Pocket Guide Now Available

I’m happy to announce the release of the 2020 PFM Printed Pocket Guide. This handy paper reference highlights many of the restaurants, bakeries, breweries, coffee shops, cocktail bars, and cafes that make eating and drinking in Portland so interesting. It also includes highlights of a few places to dine elsewhere in the state worth the drive.

Use the pocket guide for ideas on where to go, and consult the information here on PFM for the latest information on which restaurants are offering takeout, outdoor seating or indoor dining.

Many thanks to the Pocket Guide sponsors for their generous support, which enabled Portland Food Map to produce and print this resource:

While supplies last you can pick-up your very own copy of the guide at these local businesses: Rose Foods, Tandem Coffee in the West End, the Portland Trading Company, Little Woodfords, or Oxbow Brewing on Washington Ave.

The pocket guide wouldn’t be as good as it is, in fact it wouldn’t exist at all, without help from the extended PFM team of Dawn Hagin from Rare Bird Strategic, and from graphic designer Sofija Razgaitis. My thanks to both of them for all their hard work on the project.