Closings: Meridians and Maples

Two mainstays of their communities have announced they’re closing:

Maples owner Robin Ray has announced the closure (facebook, instagram) of her New Gloucester location. Ray launched the New Gloucester cafe in 2023 after many years of operating her beloved bagel shop and cafe on Route One in Yarmouth. “…but it’s time to move on from the daily grind of owning Maples. We are closed because it’s what I need to do for myself. Thank you to EVERYONE who has supported me on this journey…”

The owners of Meridian’s Kitchen and Bar (shown above) and the Meridian’s Shop shut down both Fairfield businesses on January 27th. “…But in order to move forward and properly maintain our commitment to our mission and our community, we are taking time to regroup and reflect…”

Solo Cucina Market Closing Sunday

The owners of the Solo Cucina Market have announced that this Sunday will be the market’s last day in business. The owners had announced in in November that they were seeking a buyer for the market.

Despite our most sincere efforts and fervent hopes, we have been unable to arrange a sale of the market to a buyer who will continue the concept. We are deeply grateful for your ongoing patronage and good cheer since the news of our closure came out, and your optimism has buoyed us to this point—but sadly these last few rogue waves have left us without a path forward.

The market opened on March 25, 2020. Solo Cucina is part of a family of businesses that also include Solo Italiano in Portland and Solo Pane e Pasticceria in Bath.

Jackrabbit Closing/Transitioning

Owners Bowman and Anna Brown announced this morning that they won’t be reopening Jackrabbit Cafe from their winter break.

After an underperforming year, and after taking some time to rest and reflect, we’ve decided to close Jackrabbit Cafe as we know it.

There are many factors; it isn’t just one thing. But, we’ve appreciated being a part of your lives in a small way. Thank you for your support and patronage over the years!

They’ve also indicated that customers should “[s]tay tuned for where and when our famous cardamom buns will pop up.”

The 2023 Year In Review

Here’s a look back at the 2023 year in food. It’s been a very busy year of events, openings and, sadly, of closings too. Read on for a refresher on the year we just experienced and for a look at the new restaurants, bars, pizzerias, and other business that are in the pipeline.

Closings – Some restaurant close every year whether due to retirement, lack of business success, owners interest in pursuing a new venture or external personal circumstance. However, 2023 has clearly seen much more than its fair share. 2023 has been notable not only for the overall number of business closures, but also for touching established businesses as well as more recent arrivals alike.

To name just a few there was Little Woodfords, Maine Mead Works, the Rosemont wine bar, and Bull Feeney’s in Q1, Blue Spoon (since reopened in Rockport), Tiqa, Full Turn and Timber in Q2 and Vena’s shared plans not to launch their new bar/retail shop, Petite Jacqueline, Rick’s Lobby Cafe, The Danforth, Wolf Peach in Camden in Q3, and the CBD on Congress, the Other Side Deli, Judy Gibson, Radici, The Snug and Cabana in Q4. See this page and the month-by-month recap below for a fuller accounting of the departures.

Hopefully as we head into 2024 we’ll see this peak in these losses to the food and dining community subside.

Maine Food Map – The energy that’s powered the Portland area restaurant scene for the last decade is also now making an impact on communities across the state. New hospitality businesses are launching in small towns like Waterford and Alna as well as in tourist destinations like Rangeley and Eastport. Nowhere has that entrepreneurial activity been more keenly evident than in the Midcoast. However, the last two years have also seen notable establishments opening in locations like Gardiner and Lewiston—cities that weren’t at the top of anyone’s #TheNextBiddeford list. A pandemic influenced in-migration to Maine from other states is one of the contributing factors which has brought experienced professionals to (or back to) Maine and a growing customer base for the businesses they’re creating.

Take a look back the 2023 reporting on the Maine food scene for more details, but here are some of the highlights:

  • Beard Awards: The Quarry in Monson was a Beard Awards winner in the Outstanding Hospitality Category, and Nezinscot Farm in Turner was named a James Beard America’s Classics Award winner
  • Kennebunk: Chefs Nate Norris and Annie Callan opened Bev’s Cafe and Market in Kennebunk
  • Bath/Brunswick: Caballeras, BizziBuns, Oysthers, and The Abbey all opened. A new Holy Donut shop, Reverie Coffee and Linden + Front are under construction. After a long hiatus Tao Yuan reopened.
  • Camden/Rockport: Costa Media opened in the former Wolf Peach building. Additionally,  Albatross, the new bar at The Norumbega, The Place Bakery, Sea Hag Cidery and the relocated Blue Spoon opened. Buttermilk Kitchen is under construction.
  • Thomaston: Honey’s is under construction and Uproot Pie Company just opened.
  • Alna: The Maine Sunday Telegram named The Alna Store their pick for the Best New Restaurant of 2023.
  • Greenville: the Blair Hill Inn hired Max Snyder as their new chef.
  • Belfast: a new wine bar called Pulling Corks, and a taco/cocktail bar called Dos Gatos are under construction.
  • Wiscassett: The “prettiest village in Maine” saw the opening of Jolie Rodger’s and Yonder, and Jodie’s took the place of Sarah’s.
  • Blue Hill Peninsula: Travel and Leisure declared the Blue Hill peninsula “One of the Best Places to Eat in the U.S. Right Now“.
  • Union/Warren: Alsace opened in Union and the Black Goat Test Kitchen opened in Warren.
  • Lewiston: The opening of Bon Vivant brought fine dining back to Lewiston.
  • Waldoboro: The Waldoboro Inn launched Ida’s their fun bar and pop-up collaboration venue.
  • Gardiner: Table Bar launched a dinner service with chef Jimmy Leftis.
  • Buxton: Oak & Ember opened in September.
  • Saco: The Scandinavian bakery Fika opened.
  • Waterford: The launch of Tallulah’s at The Waterford Inne.

Upcoming in 2024 – There remains a strong pipeline of new businesses under development in the Portland area. For a full list see our Under Construction list. Here are just some highlights to look forward to:

There are also several other exciting new projects in the works that we’ll be writing about soon. Check back soon for all the details.

Notable Events of 2023

Passings

Top 10 Articles

The most popular articles published on Portland Food Map in the past year.

  1. Salvatore’s Hoagies – first word of the new sandwich takeout business.
  2. Oak & Ember – first word about a new restaurant in Buxton.
  3. 2023 Beard Semifinalists – 11 Maine restaurants and chefs were named as awards semifinalists.
  4. Battery Steele – first word of the brewery’s expansion to Wells.
  5. Bistro Leluco – opening of the restaurant in South Portland.
  6. Wander at Longwoods – first word about the farm-to-table restaurant in Cumberland.
  7. Tacos La Poblanita – first word of their new restaurant in Westbrook.
  8. Thanksgiving List – the 2023 edition of our Thanks giving Resource list.
  9. Lambs – opening announcement for Lambs in South Portland.
  10. Lecha – first word about the new boba tea and ice cream shop in Deering Center.

For an additional perspective on the past year in food see the Maine Sunday Telegram Dine Out Maine: Best of 2023 article, and the Portland Old Port 2023 wrap-up.

This is the 14th year running that Portland Food Map has published a year in review article. Take a walk down memory lane by checking out these past editions that covered 2022, 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, and 2010.

Citrus Closing

The owners of Citrus have announced plans to close the  dance club and cocktail bar at the end of the year.

We are sad to announce that this will be Citrus’ last weekend open. We wanted to send a thank you to all who came and filled this space with love, laughter and dance. We’d love to see you for one last hurrah before the lease ends. Please join us for our last few nights this weekend, plus our NYE bash on Sunday! And as always, a big thank you to our committed staff, hard working DJs and loving regulars who make it all possible!

Citrus launched in July 2021. Co-owner Mark Ohlson had previously operated MJ’s Wine Bar out of the same location in One City Center.

Cabana is Closing

Cabana has announced that they’ll be closing their Middle Street bar and restaurant on December 31st.

Words are not enough to express how sad we feel to inform that Cabana will be closing its doors this December 31st of 2023. The reason behind our closure is due to unforeseen family health issues. As you all know family will always comes first and be our priority. Therefore, the founder and creator of Cabana, Rene has decided to step down and take over his family business and responsibilities. So, he will be passing his ownership to somebody else.

The message goes on to say that, “As of now, we don’t have any information about what the future holds for one eleven Middle Street.”

Cabana was launched in August of 2022 by René Emilio Peña.

Two Biddeford Closings

Two businesses in Biddeford are closing:

Sublime Taco announced that Saturday is their last day on Washington Street but added that they are taking the business “in a different direction”. They’re keeping a tight lid on what that means so stay tuned for more information.

Part & Parcel has announced that after more than five years in business they’ll be closing down their Alfred Road market and cafe on December 23rd. However, owners Danielle O’Neill and Ali Preble go on to say that they’ve “been working hard to find the perfect folks to replace P&P, and we’re happy to say that we think we’ve done just that! While it may look and feel different, the mission is the same – to provide great food and a welcoming atmosphere for the local community. Stay tuned over the coming weeks for the details!”

The Snug Is Closing

The Snug‘s owner Margaret Lyons has announced plans to close her bar. Her post on instagram reads,

In the fall of 2006, I built The Snug from the keg room up. Opening the bar has been the absolute best decision I’ve ever made…until now. It’s been succeeded by my decision to close.

In Ireland, my family may tell you I’m someone with notions. If you don’t know the Irish definition of the word, let’s just say, it’s not exactly a compliment 😉. However, a few years ago I began having [American] notions about retiring from the bar business.

Serendipitously, I crossed the path of three lovely people with notions of their own. They have a new vision, but I have the utmost faith that you’ll love what they get up to!

I don’t think a day will go by without an old Snug memory putting a smile on my face. I bet the same is true for many reading this post. Thank you for all the photographs and still frames in my mind. For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, I absolutely did have the time of my life.

The Snug’s last night will be soon. I’m not going to tell you exactly when, because I hate goodbyes. Let’s just leave it at slán.

Margaret

Stay tuned for details on what the “three lovely people” have planned.

Judy Gibson Closing

Judy Gibson chef/owner Chris Wilcox has announced he’ll be permanently closing the South Portland restaurant. November 19th will be their last day in business.

I cannot begin to express the sadness I feel as I write this. The last four years of my life have been wholly dedicated to Judy Gibson. We opened on March 4th of 2020 and were forced to close ten days later because of the global pandemic. We lost 80% of our operating capital in those first four months. Once we were able to open again for outdoor dining we saw a strong surge in revenue and had a great summer to help keep us pushing through. We did not receive any large federal financial assistance and have been riding the highs and lows of seasonality in Maine ever since. We’ve fried chicken and made corndogs to allow for Judy Gibson to continue as we always wanted to be. This past summer was good, but not good enough to sustain us through the slower months of winter. The decision to close now is so that we can guarantee that our staff can get paid while they figure out what is next and that all of our vendors are paid in full. All gift cards with remaining balances after we close will also be reimbursed in full.

The Maine Sunday Telegram selected Judy Gibson as the Best New Restaurant of 2021 and restaurant critic Andrew Ross gave it a four star rating (excellent) in a review in 2022.