Today’s Press Herald includes an article about René Emilio Peña and the two business he runs: La Bodega Latina in Parkside and Cabana in the Old Port.
“When he speaks about either of his businesses, you can feel how passionate he is,” Cabana general manager Brigid Litster said.
The bodega has provided essential support for the Latino community in Portland for more than two decades and recently passed from Peña’s father to him. The restaurant opened last month and celebrates the diversity of Latin America – and Maine – that has always been visible on the bodega shelves.
Between the two, Peña works long days. But he focuses on the pride, not the struggle.
Portland bartender Arvid Brown and his business partner Nick Coffin have signed a lease for 41 Wharf Street where they plan to open a new bar called Room for Improvement (instagram).
The cocktail list at Room for Improvement will feature riffs on classic cocktails and some house-designed specialty drinks. The beverage menu will also include local draft beer, and a small and focused by-the-glass wine list, and a selection of temperance cocktails. The owners are hoping to source and reconfigure a Jagermeister shot-chilling machine to set it up as an Allen’s Coffee Brandy dispenser—part of a vision to be a bar that’s serious about cocktails but that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
The general concept for Room for Improvement is of a modern dive bar. Renovations have already begun in the former Jaeger/Rogue’s Gallery space and they hope to be open for business by the end of February. Brown and Coffin are positioning Room for improvement as a straight up bar that can be a destination for a pre-dinner drink before a prime time meal in the Old Port and also serve as late night spot that Old Port workers can drop in at after their shifts.
Brown was a co-owner of the Fishin’ Ships food truck when he first moved to Portland. He moved on to work as a bartender at Ebb & Flow, Roustabout before helping open Baharat where his creative use of Middle Eastern ingredients and flavors integrated the bar program with the menu. Brown is currently the bar manager at the popular Exchange Street restaurant and bar Crispy Gai. Coffin is a native of Vermont and has been a partner and manager in bars in Colorado and California prior to moving to Maine.
Thursday – Mrs. Gee Free Living and Sur Lie are collaborating on a gluten-free dinner, and Maine & Loire is holding a wine tasting with wine importer Vomboden.
Saturday – the Uncork Me wine festival is taking place at the Portland Expo.
October 8 – Oxbow is holding their annual Goods from the Woods event in Newcastle.
October 9 – Dandelion Spring Farm is holding a Harvest Feast. The meal will be a “Contemporary American style dinner influenced by Kristie Rudolph’s Korean American heritage. This multi-course dinner will be celebrating the best of seasonal produce along with local proteins.”
October 9 – the Maine Cheese Guild is holding Maine Open Creamery Day.
October 12 – the chefs from Oberlin (from Providence, Rhode Island) and Regards will be serving a collaboration dinner.
October 16 – MOFGA is holding Great Maine Apple Day at Unity.
October 27 – 29 – Harvest on the Harbor is taking place.
Today’s Maine Sunday Telegram includes a very interesting article about an heirloom apple research project.
Since 2019, Bunker has been working with College of the Atlantic history professor Todd Little-Siebold, Laura Sieger, orchard manager for the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association and MOFGA intern Lydia Pendergast to collect samples from hundreds of Maine’s unidentified apple trees. They send the samples clear across the country to their partner in the project, Cameron Peace, a horticulture scientist at the University of Washington who runs tests to reveal the DNA.
“It’s almost like 23andMe, but for apples,” Sieger said, referring to the popular human genetic testing web service, 23andMe.com.
Today’s Maine Sunday Telegram includes a review of Friends & Family,
But there’s another 20% to account for at Friends & Family, and that’s Monday Pizza Night – an evening where the menu shrinks to make space for at least three types of pizza. Try the Grandma Slice on any night, but it’s best on Mondays, when the dough gets an extra two days of fermentation time. Thin-crust pizzas served on Pizza Night are also fantastic, especially the Caprese, lavishly topped with fresh mozzarella and local tomatoes. Is Friends & Family a wine bar or a pizza place? Who cares. It’s a delight.
Mast Landing Brewing has announced plans to open a new tasting room in South Portland at 185 Cottage Road in the space formerly occupied by Rwanda Bean Coffee.
Westbrook-based Mast Landing is expanding to a third tasting room. The forthcoming location sits at 185 Cottage Rd. in South Portland, and was most recently occupied by Rwanda Bean Coffee Roasters. Pending approval from the town, Mast Landing plans to open the location by the end of the year. Moving in to the space is expected to be a fairly seamless transition for Mast Landing given the past use of the building and the team’s experience with their Westbrook and Freeport spaces.
The Bangor Daily News has a report on a new robot food delivery service at the University of Southern Maine.
The bots receive orders via the app and an internal phone SIM card, then proceed to a campus food kiosk — which includes the Hungry Huskies food truck — where a Sodexo employee loads them up with vittles. The machines then trundle on to their destination using GPS mapping software to guide them. Stopping outside their destination building, folks who’ve ordered food then use the app to open the Kiwibot and retrieve their lunch.
A start-up company called DutchPot is working on a platform “to simplify the process of getting food permits and food licenses” in Maine.
They are gathering input from local food business owners to learn about the “struggles they face with the food permit and licensing process”.
You can help out by answering this short survey.
Dogfish Bar and Grille has announced they’re temporarily closing with hopes to “bring the Dogfish family back together soon”. This Friday will be their last day in business for the time being.
In over 20 years, there are so many people that have had the love of being able to call Dogfish their home. If it was for an Open Mic, a Trivia Night, the unbelievable live music acts that have crossed our stage or just sitting at the bar with friends, we like to think you are part of our family. Over that time period, we as a staff have seen so many things. Through so many changes and many movements. We have seen relationships flourish into marriage and children. We have felt loss and hardship with people we cared so much about. The best thing about Dogfish in that respect, is it will never go away, but for now, we must close our doors down.
This comes shortly after the recent news that Katahdin is also temporarily closing while they find a spot to relocate to.
The Press Herald has published a report on the re-evaluation of the Eastern Prom food truck pilot program. You’ll recall it required food trucks on the road and into a lot halfway down the hill. Food trucks have reported a significant drop in sales at the new location.
Portland will gather feedback on its food truck pilot program on the Eastern Promenade this fall as some food truck operators say it hasn’t been working and they’re looking for changes ahead of next season.
Interim City Manager Danielle West said Monday the city is aiming to launch a survey Oct. 3 to gather feedback from the public. The program, which launched this spring, moved food trucks from the promenade road to a parking lot on Cutter Street to better manage concerns about trash, pedestrian safety and traffic around the trucks.