Managing Stress

Today’s Maine Sunday Telegram reports on the stresses being felt by restaurant staff during the pandemic and the ways they’ve managed them.

Local restaurateurs have made it through the past year with the help of friends, exercise, meditative activities, time in nature, and therapy. Some say that although they have been working extraordinarily hard to save their businesses, being forced to slow down during temporary closures and standing in nearly empty dining rooms has given them a new perspective and an appreciation for a better work-life balance – not only for themselves, but for their employees as well.

Worker Perspective Op/Ed

Katie Keating and Heather Foran have written a Maine Voices article for the Press Herald.

In the recent series about Portland restaurants, the Press Herald quoted 41 business owners and one non-supervisory worker. As restaurant workers, we have seen this trend repeat through the pandemic: profiles of struggling business owners, told with little attention paid to the experiences of their employees. The failure to represent worker perspectives creates a one-sided story about so-called “labor shortages” that implies that workers are unwilling to work and would rather depend on unemployment. This misses the bigger picture: people risking their lives in an industry that does not provide health insurance during a pandemic; that often does not pay a living wage in a city with skyrocketing housing costs, and in which people have no legal recourse for unsafe conditions.

New Chef at Ada’s

Ada’s announced the hire of Brendan Levin as the new chef at their Portland location. According to the press release, Levin has 20 years of culinary experience as both a chef and general manager in restaurants from Texas up to Southern Maine. His most recent position was at Lure Kitchen and Bar in Portsmouth. Levin is a graduate of New England Culinary Institute.

Expectations, New Customers, Huga

Today’s Maine Sunday Telegram includes articles on what tourists should know and understand as they visit restaurants in our state,

I asked several Maine chefs, restaurant owners and front-of-house staff how we might be able to help tourists understand what to expect, and what we’ll be expecting from them in return. So if you’re a summer visitor, listen up: There are a few important things to know before you arrive.

an article about business models that thrived during the pandemic, and

The past year has been devastating to many small businesses in Maine, and restaurants have been among the hardest hit. But some other food-related businesses have actually done well, either because of their pandemic-friendly business models or because they were able to provide people stuck at home with what they needed, from fresh seafood to meals delivered right to their doors.

an article about Huga.

Greig and Olsen designed a heated cushion for seated outdoor activities, primarily capitalizing on people’s desire last winter to continue dining out during the pandemic, when many restaurant and tasting room customers were unwilling, or able, to eat inside. By keeping customers comfortable, Hüga cushions also helped keep those businesses alive. The business launched in January.

Erik Desjarlais at Owl & Elm

Erik Desjarlais
has been hired as the new chef at Owl & Elm (website, facebook, instagram) in Yarmouth.

At Owl & Elm Desjarlais and owner Caitlin Henningsen are planning an elevated village pub menu. Fans of the burger and fish and chips can rest easy that those items will remain on the menu unchanged as will the daily ice cream sundae. The new menu will include items like frisée salad with a duck egg, fried quail with buckwheat waffles, steak frites, fish baked in parchment and a pavé of pork belly with beans on brioche toast, with specials woven into the menu on a regular basis.

Owl & Elm opened 5 years ago and is expected to reopen in the first week of June. The restaurant is located at 365 Main Street in Yarmouth. In addition to their dining room Owl & Elm also has a outdoor dining space on their back deck.

Desjarlais was the chef/owner of Bandol, Ladle and Evangeline in Portland and went on to found Weft & Warp. Most recently he’s been the general manager and chef at the New Gloucester Village Store.