Changes in the Restaurant Landscape

The Bangor Daily News has taken a look at the factors impacting recent changes in the restaurant landscape in Portland.

Locals assert that the wave of sudden closures smacks of gentrification — which is fair, and also related to the workforce shortage. Rising rents have displaced the city’s typically younger ( and indebted) service-industry workers into suburbs like South Portland and Westbrook, making it hard for restaurants to retain staff, whose wages often depend on tips that can dry up in the winter months when tourism dwindles.

Brian Boru To Close August 26

Owner Daniel Steele has announced plans to close Brian Boru Monday night at 1 am. They will be open the remainder of this weekend.

Founded in 1993, “The Pub,” as it is affectionately known by it’s regulars has been a landmark in Portland’s Old Port for more than a quarter century. Current owner, Daniel Steele, expresses his deep appreciation towards its loyal patrons, vendors, and the City of Portland, for their decades of support.

Silly’s Going Out of Business September 1st

Longtime Washington Ave restaurant Silly’s is closing. Owner Colleen Kelley plans to close the restaurant at 4 pm on Sunday September 1st. She shared her decision and her rational via a lengthy post on facebook Wednesday afternoon. Here’s an excerpt,

My sister Shelley and I have sold the buildings— not Silly’s, just the buildings. There are a lot of factors in my decision starting with Silly’s requires my attention to thrive consistently and I am exhausted all the time trying to take care of my father and be a working owner. As much as Erin and Will the managers and the rest of the staff are taking care of me and the business, it is constantly challenging to do business with the city of Portland which also wears me out. Another huge factor in my decision is, it is that I am smart enough to know my business model won’t work in a city destined to be Seattle, which isn’t meant to be a slam it is just my opinion of where Portland is going. I don’t want anything but wonderful things for Portland, Maine I have enjoyed many years here. However, I am a fat woman who serves fat, over-portioned food and I won’t charge 24.00 dollars for 4 oz of dip and some pita bread served by a person that said to me take your time, I get paid by the hour. I want to make all my own food, not be a part of a restaurant group and serve whatever a portion I want to for a decent price with people who want to do the same. I can’t do that in my current situation…so before I loose the business, I am going to bow out gracefully of the new hipster artisan Washington avenue that I really don’t fit into anymore and spend my time taking care of my father. I didn’t get to do it with my mother who died in March, I went to work the day after it happened and I won’t make that mistake again. It isn’t healthy….

For additional reporting on Silly’s closure see articles from the Bangor Daily News, and the Press Herald.

Simply Vegan by Silly’s Closing

Simply Vegan by Silly’s has announced that they will go out of business as of this weekend.

I wish to thank all of our guests who came to visit us over this past year. It has been such a pleasure to prepare your meals. My favorite interaction has been when you visit for the first time and I get to witness the smile on your faces when you realize you can order anything on the menu. That always makes me happy.

Owner Colleen Kelley shared on facebook that she’s closing because her “father is not doing well and I will be helping to take care of him”.

Lolita To close September 2nd

Lolita has announced plans to close. The night of September 2nd will be their last service.

Lolita is owned by Guy and Stella Hernandez in conjunction with business partners Neil & Lauren Reiter and Bob Manheimer. The restaurant opened June 1st 2014.

Here’s an excerpt from their announcement, you can read the full statement on instagram,

In January of 2006, we signed the lease on our first restaurant & our son came home from the Philippines in 2007. Since then, it’s been a thirteen-year whirlwind of family and restaurant life.

In 2012 we had the good fortune to connect with Neil Reiter, and with his experience & vision, the three of us developed what has become Lolita. Speaking of good fortune, we were also on the receiving end of the architectural skill, & creativity of Lauren Reiter who transformed a raw, concrete block space into the restaurant we love; softening the edges with reclaimed wood, a generous zinc bar, & finding ways for us to fit our wood grill & wine storage all into less than 900 square feet. As Neil has said, our intention was to make a place ‘reminiscent of an Old World bodega where, throughout the day, neighbors & visitors alike gather to share some wine, snacks or a meal, and a lot of congenial conversation.”

The restaurant has a sneaky way of cutting to the front of the line in life. It’s the thing that’s on fire (sometimes literally) that draws your energy. It’s been our way of life & it’s been absolutely grand. But now we’re ready for more – more time for us & our family. We’re not a fan of long goodbyes – (okay this post is a bit long) – so Monday, September 2nd will be our last night of service at Lolita. It has been the best adventure of our lives – so far.

Walter’s Closing

Walter’s is closing as of May 31st. A mainstay of the Portland restaurant scene, it will be missed by the many customers who have dined there over decades it’s been in business.

Owners Cheryl and Jeff Buerhaus have shared that they’ve considered this decision for quite some time now and feel that after 30 years in the business the time is right to close and move on with the next phase of their life.

Currently we have no plans for the future but to enjoy our grandchildren. We have thoroughly enjoyed serving the public for the many years we have been in business. To be able to spend time with people celebrating special occasions, date nights, business meetings has been joyful. As all things come to pass so has Walter’s time in the Portland food arena.

Walter’s was originally opened by Walter Loeman and Mark Loring, and was located at 15 Exchange Street.

The Buerhauses built out the current space on Union Street and moved the restaurant in 2009. It was the one of the first restaurants that departed from the then standard exposed brick and beams aesthetic to something more contemporary.

Vignola | Cinque Terre Closing

Vignola | Cinque Terre owners, Dan and Michelle Kary, have announced plans to close the restaurants. Their last day in operation will be May 12th.

Vignola | Cinque Terre Owners Dan and Michelle Kary stated, “We have relished and enjoyed being a part of the restaurant community in Portland for over 18 years. For us, the time was right to move to our next chapter. We’ve been especially thankful for our wonderful employees, suppliers and patrons over the years. To our loyal customers, “grazie mille.” 10 Dana Street is a special place in Portland and we are excited and pleased to have the Miranda Restaurant Group purchase the property to give it a rebirth in the community.”

The building is currently under contract for purchase by Josh Miranda, owner of Blyth & Burrows.

Miranda commented, “This building on Dana Street is a beautiful piece of the Old Port, with ivy crawling up the brick exterior and the palpable sense of place between waterfront and downtown Fore Street. I am excited to bring something new to the space and am grateful to Michelle and Dan for the care they put into the property over the years. There will be more announcements on our new restaurant coming soon.”

Ten Ten Pié Closing

I’m sad to report that Ten Ten Pié has gone out of business. The news was announced on instagram with this message:

I regret to inform you that Ten Ten Pié is closing. 
You, customers and community, have made this such a wonderful and rewarding experience. I am grateful for your support these last 4 ½ years. 
I prepare for new projects and look forward to seeing you down the road.
Keep doing what you’re doing to help local food, local business, and local community flourish. 
Thank you for letting me be part of your journey.


Ten Ten opened on August 16, 2014 as a much loved bakery, cafe and neighborhood market. They’ve received some national press, especially during the last year.