Looking Back at March 2009, 2014, and 2019

The Portland Food Map archive  provides a chronicle of the past 16+ years of the Portland restaurant scene. While a lot of the reporting here is about what’s happening now and coming next, we thought it would be fun to take a look back at what the hot topics were from 5, 10 and 15 years ago.

Here’s are highlights from March 2009, 2014 and 2019:

  • Silly’s won the 2009 WMPG Cajun Cookin’ Challenge with a vegan dish.
  • Word was out about El Rayo and the construction of their first restaurant which was located at the corner of High and York Streets. Cheryl Lewis and Norine Kotts headlined the launch of El Rayo.
  • Chef Jeff Landry opened his new restaurant The Farmer’s Table. It was located in the Commercial Street building now home to Elevation Burger. Type A Diversions opined, “For those seeking simply prepared, well-executed comfort food, The Farmer’s Table fits the bill; it is a great new addition to Portland’s food scene.”
  • Micucci’s started work on a line of bottled pasta sauced developed by their then chef/baker Stephen Lanzalotta.
  • Construction of The Corner Room got underway.
  • Freaky Bean closed their remaining two coffee shops.
  • The Maine 2009 Beard Awards nominees for 2009 were Fore Street for Outstanding Restaurant, and Rob Evans, and Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier for the Best Chef: Northeast category.
  • The Washington Post published an article about Munjoy Hill in 2009 that highlighted: North Star, Hilltop Coffee Shop, Rosemont, The Front Room, Duckfat, Colucci’s and Homegrown Herb & Tea.
  • Joe Ricchio launched his food blog Portland Food Coma in March 2009. One of the very first posts was a list of “Ten Things to Eat in Portland…[when you] have no time or patience for being disappointed”. The list includes dishes at Thanh Thanh 2, Haggarty’s, Tu Casa, Bresca, La Bodega Latina, Huong’s, Hugo’s, Hot Suppa and One Fifty Ate. Joe has since gone on to run a wide variety of media initiatives and is currently operating the Food Coma Private Dinners series.
  • Construction began at 442 Fore Street on Pearl, a bar and lounge. The building is now occupied by Venus and Mars, one of Portland’s many cannabis shops.
  • The Hella Good Taco food cart purchased Steve & Renee’s Diner in 2014 where for a time they served a hybrid Hella Good/Diner menu.
  • Coffee By Design opened their new coffee shop and roastery in East Bayside on March 4, 2014.
  • The Portland police made a recommendation to the City Council not to renew Sangillo’s liquor license, which then led to a campaign to save Sangillo’s.
  • Maine Craft Distilling released the first batch of their single malt whiskey, 50 Stone.
  • In 2014, the coffee industry insider publication Sprudge published an article about the coffee service at Hugo’s and the restaurant’s partnership with Tandem Coffee Roasters. “Hugo’s has transformed the finale of an already transformative dining experience.”
  • Details emerged about the development of Slab, and of The Jewel Box.
  • Tandem announced plans to open a second location at 742 Congress Street.
  • Justin Velgos, Mark Woollard and Billy Flaherty launched unofficial Uprising iPhone app for people who have taken on the challenge of drinking their way through The Uprising beer list at Novare Res.
  • Red Sea open on Washington Ave in the space that was formerly occupied by Safari.
  • The Maine College of Art is offered a set of Culinary Arts classes as part of their continuing education program in the summer of 2014.
  • Word was out in 2019 that a wine bar and wine shop called Lorne was under construction in Biddeford. Lorne will be permanently closing this summer.
  • Ten Ten Pié went out of business. They were located on Cumberland Ave in the space that’s now home to Banh Appetit. Ten Ten’s baker, Atsuko Fujimoto, has since gone on to open her own business Norimoto Bakery.
  • Bird & Co. opened on March 12, 2019 in Woodfords Corner.
  • Natalie DiBenedetto, chef/owner of Figgy’s, become the latest Chopped Champion from Maine.
  • Rob Tod from Allagash Brewing Co. was a 2019 Beard Awards nominee in the Outstanding Wine Beer or Spirits Professional category.

See the entries published in February and January for more memories from Portland’s recent food history.