East Bayside Map

Working with local design firm Sugarjets Studio and map designer/maker Melissa Pritchard, Dean’s Sweets has produced a map of the East Bayside neighborhood where their chocolate shop is located. It highlights the areas food, drink and retail establishments.

“In addition to the hope of boosting business for everyone in the neighborhood, according to Bingham, the map was equally about connecting the community of entrepreneurs and artists. There is a small section on the map on the history of the people who have moved to and lived in East Bayside, still home to many Mainers, as well as information on the current community police coordinator. Fun, inviting illustrations hint at the recreation possibilities in the neighborhood as well.”

You can find paper copies of the map at businesses in East Bayside.

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.

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.

Food Trucks

More reporting on this year’s big expansion in the number of Maine food trucks:

Maine Calling on Maine Public radio aired a program late last week with a panel of food truck owners and other related professionals weighing in.

Maine’s food truck scene is booming, with new offerings appearing all over the state. We’ll find out how the pandemic affected business for food trucks, and how they are preparing for the busy summer season. We’ll also learn about the variety of offerings, and what the challenges and opportunities are of operating a food truck.

Mainebiz has published an article on what’s driving the expansion and the work involved in launching a mobile food business.

Welcome to the wild and wacky world of food businesses on wheels, a segment that took off in Maine — and elsewhere — during the pandemic when traditional restaurants were closed to in-person dining or forced out of business entirely. That’s opened up opportunities for newcomers like Kehoe hungry to start a business at a fraction of the cost — and hassle — of a bricks-and-mortar setup as well as new revenue streams for existing businesses.

Resiliency and Community Series

News Center Maine has published the first three parts of their Resiliency and Community series examining how restaurants are being impacted by the pandemic by talking to chef and owners at some of Portland’s leading restaurants:

Part 1 – Matt Ginn about Evo and its sister restaurants

Part 2 – Ilma Lopez, Damian Sansonetti and Kirby Sholl at Chaval

Part 3 – Chris and Paige Gould at Central Provisions and Tipo

Pandemic Series: Identity and Resilience

The Press Herald has published the final article in their 5-part series on the pandemic’s impact on the Portland restaurant industry. Today’s article looks back at the factors that contributed to the success of the hospitality industry pre-pandemic and shares confidence that the restaurant scene will rebound albeit changed by the experience of the past year plus.

For more than a decade, Portland has enjoyed a national reputation as a food town, a place to go for its impressive restaurants, expansive craft beer scene and independent groceries trading in local food sourced from nearby farms and the adjacent sea. Looking for a cider house, an upscale knife store, a well-stocked cheese shop, an Eritrean restaurant or a hummusiya? Portland’s got those and much more. Its status as a bustling, walkable food town may be hardly a blip in the city’s almost 400-year-old history, but to many of its residents today, its intertwined food, drinks and restaurant scene is a source of pride, jobs, community, entertainment – even a reason they moved here.

Pandemic Series: Labor Shortage

Today’s Press Herald includes the fourth article in a 5-part series on the pandemic’s impact on the Portland restaurant industry. Today’s article reports on the tight labor market for restaurant staff and the factors contributing to it.

Over the last year plus, you’ve lost much of your staff through furloughs and layoffs. Some you’ve hired back. Some have left the industry for good; real data is hard to come by, but estimates predict as much as 25 percent of the workforce may never return. At the same time, restaurant staffers still overseeing their children’s schooling and care may not be able to work their usual hours. And federal unemployment assistance – that extra $300 a week – has been extended through early September, the beating heart of Maine’s tourism season, providing a disincentive to work, some employers say.

Pandemic Series: Ripple Effect

Today’s Press Herald includes the third article in a 5-part series on the pandemic’s impact on the Portland restaurant industry. Today’s article reports on the ripple effect to suppliers, farmers and fishermen.

The impact of the momentary collapse and stunted recovery of Portland’s restaurants has reverberated across an ecosystem of businesses. Many of those are still in survival mode, grabbing whatever federal and state aid they can and changing business models and practices to earn new revenue and hang on for better times.

Pandemic Series: Microcosm

Today’s Press Herald has published the second article in a 5-part series on the pandemic’s impact on the Portland restaurant industry. Today’s article takes a close look at the path taken by 7 establishments along Middle Street, examining them “a microcosm of an industry that has been roiled by the pandemic”.

Some have closed permanently, all at least temporarily. They’ve had to reinvent themselves continually, switching to takeout, meal kits and groceries and sending lobster rolls winging around the U.S. They’ve laid off staff and brought them back, or in some cases not; coped with constant uncertainty, positive COVID tests, maddening unemployment applications, and onerous paperwork for loans and grants.