Chef Louis Pickens

The Portland Phoenix has published an article about Louis Pickens, the chef and owner of Black Betty’s Bistro.

In Portland, Pickens cooked in hotel and nursing home kitchens before starting his own company, Black Betty’s Bistro, named after the cast-iron stove his grandmother had back in Texas, where Pickens said generations of his family learned to love food.

After the coronavirus pandemic threw a wrench into his plans to open a storefront in the space next door, he said he’s been grateful that the community has kept him afloat. He’s cooking family-sized meals to go for pickup on Thursdays and Saturdays, and has catered for a school in South Portland.

Portland Fish Exchange

The Portland Phoenix has published an article about the Portland Fish Exchange and an effort to determine its future.

Suggestions range from reevaluating the confusing governance structure (the quasi-public nonprofit Fish Exchange is governed by a board of directors and the fish pier is governed by the Fish Pier Authority), bringing freezing and more processing services to the pier, including more species in the auction, and redesigning it to handle smaller lots. Some have suggested opening a public boat-to-table-style market, similar to Pike Place in Seattle. 

C4C Matching Challenge x 2

Evergreen Credit Union has announced that they’ll be matching all donation to Cooking for Community now through Friday up to a total of $2,000.

Combined with the matching challenge already in place this will mean every dollar donated will result $4 for Cooking for Community in their work to feed the hungry while supporting local restaurants, and Maine food producers.

You can make a donation at

Rover Bagel Returning to Biddeford

Rover Bagel (website, instagram, facebook)  has leased space at 10 West Point Lane and will be once again operating in Biddeford.

Owners Kim and Alec Rutter will be serving a similar menu to Rover 1.0 with wood-fired bagels, sandwiches, Tandem coffee and some expanded pastry offering.

The Rutters hope to open Rover sometime in early next year. Initially service will be through a takeout window.

The previous version of Rover was located on Elm St, and was in business from November 2017 until December 2019.

Expanded Capacity and Outdoor Timeline

The Press Herald reports that Governor announced plans yesterday to allow for the re-opening of bars and for expanded seating limits in restaurants,

Numerous restaurant and bar owners contacted Tuesday welcomed the loosening of restrictions on indoor gatherings, but said they don’t intend to relax the safeguards they’ve put in place and will proceed with caution to protect their employees and customers from contracting the highly contagious virus. Bars have been among the last businesses required to stay shuttered during the pandemic.

The City of Portland is also looking at extending the timeframe for outdoor seating until January 2nd according to reports in the Portland Phoenix and Press Herald.

The city is still studying whether and how to keep outdoor dining going until Jan. 2, said Jessica Grondin, director of communications for the city of Portland. City staff is preparing a more detailed plan that will be presented to the council for a vote on Oct. 19.

Jing Yan Coming to Munjoy Hill

A new Asian fusion restaurant and bar called Jing Yan is under construction at 90 Congress Street in the space formerly occupied by Lolita. Owners Britt Langford and husband Leo Zhang hope to open Jing Yan in November.

Portland is Langford’s home town and she met Zhang while living in China where the couple ran the Bar 4 Nine cocktail bar. They moved to Portland 3 years ago and have been working in the hospitality industry since then.

Chris Petrillo is coming onboard as the chef for Jing Yan. Langford and Zhang will be updating the interior design to be in keeping with their new concept, but expect the overall layout will remain the same.

Jing Yan will primarily do takeout to start with some limited indoor dining.

This Week’s Events: Duckfat Chef Series, PBL Auction, Niyat, Chilangos, Helm, Maple and Creamery Days

Wednesday – Damian Sansonetti and Ilma Lopez from Chaval will be the first participants in the Duckfat Friteshack guest chef series, Portland Buy Local is holding a 24-hour auction in collaboration with small businesses across the city, and the weekday Deering Oaks Farmers’ Market is taking place.

FridayNiyat Catering is holding an Ethiopian Dinner at Fork Food Lab. Make your reservation for the 5:30 or 7 pm seatings.

Saturday –Portland restaurant Helm (under construction on Thames Street) is holding a pop-up event at Lorne Wine in Biddeford, it’s the first day of the Maine Maple Producers Weekend, the Portland Beer Hub is hosting a pop-up by Rhode Island-based Mexican restaurant Chilangos, and the weekend Deering Oaks Farmers’ Market is taking place.

Sunday – the 13th Annual Open Creamery Day is taking place.

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.

Restaurant Real Estate Listings: October 2020

Welcome to the October edition of the Portland Food Map restaurant real estate listings sponsored by The Boulos Company. This monthly column gathers in one convenient place spaces available in Portland that could be potential sites for restaurants and food producers/retailers to locate their next business.

Even in these tough times for the hospitality industry some people are pursuing their dreams and opening new food businesses. Finding the right spot is one of the crucial early challenges in launching a new business and hopefully this new resource will make that step just a little bit easier.

West End

785 Congress St – a renovated 1,378 sq ft space near Bramhall Square is available for lease for $2,000 per month (MG).

64 Pine St – The former Aurora Provisions space is for sale or lease. The 4,629 sq ft is listed at $12.83/sq ft (NNN) and is also available for sale for $1,495,000.

101 York St – a 15,000 sq ft sub-dividable space in the new building on the corner of York and High Street is available for $15-20/sq ft (NNN). The space already has a hood vent and grease traps installed.

Arts District

11 Brown St – the space where BRGR Bar is located on Brown Street is for lease. The 4,321 turnkey restaurant space is available for $19/sq ft (NNN). All furniture, fixtures & equipment included, as are 2 parking spots and 2,000 sq ft of storage space.

114 Center St –this 1,500 – 10,000 sq ft space off Free Street is for lease at $8-25/sq ft (MG).

504 Congress St – the former Portland City Music Hall is available. The 17,687 – 34,687 is listed at $4/sq ft (NNN).

555 Congress St – the former Five Fifty-Five is available to lease. The 1,089 – 3,647 sq ft space is listed at $22/sq ft (NNN).

593 Congress St – The former Vinland is available to lease. The 1,720 sq ft space is listed at $19.41/sq ft (MG).

605 Congress St – Two spaces in the State Theater Building is available. They are 543 sq ft and 2,685 sq ft and are listed at $25-35/sq ft (MG).


84 Cove St – The former Milk & Honey in Bayside is available for $13/sq ft (NNN).

23 Marginal Way – a 1,300 sq ft space in Century Plaza is available for $28/sq ft (NNN).

Old Port

1 Commercial St – the original location of Benkay at the corner of Commercial and India Streets is available. The 2,494 sq ft is for lease at $35/sq ft (NNN).

5 Commercial St – the former Rosemont Market at the corner of Commercial and India Streets is available. The 1,700 sq ft is for lease at $35/sq ft (NNN).

9 Commercial St – the former Commercial Street location of Arabica is available. 3,018/sq ft for $35/sq ft (NNN).

123 Commercial St – 2,587 sq ft of space at $32/sq ft (NNN).

266 Commercial St – 6,689 sq ft of new construction retail space will be available for $20-22/sq ft (NNN).

267 Commercial St – the former Bam Bam Bakery space is available. 2,355 sq ft at $25/sq ft (NNN).

383 Commercial St – 4 street retail spaces will be available (1,631 – 1,971 sq ft) at $28/sq ft (NNN) in a new building under construction at the corner of Maple and Commercial Streets. It’s building is expected to be finished in the fall of 2020.

98 Cross St – two retail spaces (991 and 1891 sq ft) are available for $20/sq ft (MG).

225 Federal St – the former Old Port Po’ Boys & Pickles is available. 1,000 sq ft at $30/sq ft (MG).

425 Fore St – The former Five Guys is available. $2,900/sq ft and $40/sq ft (MG).

443 Fore St – the space currently occupied by Evo Kitchen + Bar is for lease and will be available once Evo is moves into the Pattern Storehouse building at the 58 Fore site. The 1,706 sq ft are available for $54.51/sq ft (MG) or $7,750 per month.

40 Free St – A new building is under construction on Free Street by JB Brown. The first floor will have 4/5 storefronts ranging in size from 1,358 to 3,067 sq ft. The construction is expected to be completed in early 2021. The rate is $30/sq ft (NNN).

55 Market St – this 3,700 sq ft space on Market Street was formerly occupied by the Big Easy. It’s available for $24/sq ft (NNN).

89 Market St – The former Old Port Sandwich Shop is available. Call (207) 772-6579 for more information.

131 Middle St – 3,512 sq ft at $14.50/sq ft (NNN).

3 Portland Square – This new building will include 2,500 – 20,000 square feet of retail space for$28.50/sq ft.

5 Spring St – the first floor space at the corner of Cross and Spring Streets. 3,069 sq ft at $20-23/sq ft (NNN).

23 Temple St – 947 sq ft at $25/sq ft (MG).

India/Washington Ave

100 Fore St – 2 retail spaces are available in a new building planned for Fore Street. 1,141 and 1,914 sq ft respectively, $27 – 30/sq ft (NNN).

15 Middle St – located in one of the new buildings off India Street. 991 sq ft at $22/sq ft (NNN).

The Black Box – 300 sq ft, $1,450 per month (3 month minimum) which includes all utilities, high speed WiFi, and shared access to a common unit that includes two bathrooms (1 ADA) as well as shared use of the adjacent patio space that can accommodate outdoor seating.

Forest Ave

509 Forest Ave – 6,000 sq ft of space near Bow Street Beverage is available for $10-12.75/sf ft (MG).

949 Forest Ave – the former Maelily Ryleigh’s is for lease. The 4,185 sq ft restaurant is available at $19/sq ft (NNN).

1569 Forest Ave – a former gas station on outer Forest Ave is available for $1-99/sq ft (NNN). The building is $1,352 sq ft in size.


559 Brighton Ave – with Rosemont Market centralizing their kitchen, warehouse and office space in one building the retail space in their original building on Brighton is now available for sale for $550,000.

441 Congress St – The 2,400 sq ft former home of Guitar Grave across the street from 1 Monument Square is available for $20/sq ft.

327 Saint John St – the former Dunkin Donuts is available. 1,876 sq ft at $35/sq ft (NNN).

Other Spaces – the spaces formerly occupied by Piccolo, Cider House, Candy’s, Lio, and Sip of Europe have all been vacated but there’s no online real estate listings for them. Regardless, they’re probably still worth checking out.


MG – Modified Gross which indicates that the operating expenses (taxes, insurance, maintenance, etc.) for the property are included in the lease rate. The tenant would pay its own utilities, which sometimes includes heat.

NNN – Triple Net which indicates that operating expenses are not included in the lease rate, and the tenant will pay them separately. They are often referred to as CAM (Common Area Maintenance) charges and taxes, which are expressed as $/sf. The tenant is also responsible for utilities.

Gross – Gross indicates all expenses including utilities are included in the lease rate. The tenant would be responsible for phone and internet access, as well as interior janitorial.

Silly’s Re-Opening Today

Silly’s is re-opening today. The new Silly’s is located at 68 Washington Ave in the space where owner Colleen Kelly formerly operated Simply Vegan by Silly’s.

Hours on Saturday are 11 – 3, and on Sunday 10 -3, and there’s chocolate cake.

The original Silly’s (which closed September1, 2019) location is being renovated and this fall will be the new home for Terlingua. The former Terlingua space is now occupied by Pizzeria Radici, and the….

Cooking for Community Matching Challenge

A group of donors is offering to match all donations made to Cooking for Community between now and October 9th up to a total of $75,000. This 1:1 match has the potential to raise $150k for the important work Cooking for Community does supporting restaurants and feeding the hungry.

Cooking for Community (website, facebook, instagram) was founded in Portland just this past April. As explained in this Christian Science Monitor article, donations to the organization are used to pay Maine restaurant to make meals which local social service organization distribute to people in need.

Make a Donation today.