Duckfat Changes Hands

Rob Evans and Nancy Pugh have sold their restaurants Duckfat and Duckfat Frites Shack and retired from the restaurant industry. The team at Duckfat and overall philosophy of the business will remain the same. A 16-year veteran team member and front of house manager, Trevor Lilly, will be the overall GM of the business and the new owner of Duckfat is David Shryock. The sale was completed on April 30th.

We caught up with Pugh and Evans recently. They shared their pride in what they’d built at Duckfat and their confidence in the team’s ability to independently carry their vision for Duckfat in the coming years. In fact it was the commitment and skill of the Duckfat staff that made Evans and Pugh comfortable that company could continue on without them under new ownership.

Trevor Lilly shared some similar sentiments about the path forward for Duckfat,

The Duckfat team is passionate about building upon Rob and Nancy’s legacy. We couldn’t be more excited to be stewards of the collaborative, respectful, and dynamic culture they’ve fostered over the years. We look forward to continuing to cultivate approachable menus with a focus on consistency, technique, and a commitment to supporting the Maine food and beverage community. More than anything, our staff is thrilled to continue to provide delicious food and exceptional service to our friends in Portland – in our hearts, we see both locations as neighborhood spots.

Rob Evans and Nancy Pugh moved to Portland and took over Hugo’s in 2000 and for nearly a quarter of a century have been central figures in the Portland restaurant community. The couple launched Duckfat in 2005 and Duckfat Frites Shack on Washington Ave in 2018. Evans was a Food & Wine Best New Chef in 2004, and he won a James Beard award in the Best Chef North East category in 2009. A legion of their former employees at Hugo’s and Duckfat have gone on to make their own mark in the industry.

4 Star Review of Paella Seafood

Today’s Maine Sunday Telegram includes a 4 star review of Paella Seafood.

His Valencian-style, traditional paella is smokey (even without chorizo), with patches of crusty soccarat rice on the bottom and precision-cooked proteins (chicken, shrimp, calamari, mussels) that highlight why this deserves to be the restaurant’s eponymous dish. Other standouts include dill-flecked seafood soup; a sandwich of fried pollock nestled into a home-baked roll; and turmeric-tinted, deep-fried whole belly clams served scattered with almost translucent discs of thin-sliced jalapeno peppers. Paella Seafood might be under the radar for the moment, but it won’t be for long.

Today’s paper also includes an article on how distilled spirits prices are set in Maine and on the variety of taco options available in the Portland area.

CBD Signs Union Contract

Maine Public reports that Coffee by Design has signed an agreement with a union of their baristas.

The contract signed this week secures a wage increase and establishes a labor-management committee between Coffee By Design and its workers. The mutual agreement is for one year, which Sheldman said will allow both parties to continue crafting a long-term agreement.

Trudy Birds Property for Sale

The owners of Trudy Birds have announced that the property of the North Yarmouth restaurant is for sale and that the restaurant itself will shut down when a buyer is found, “As of right now the future of Trudy Birds is unclear but we will continue to operate as normal and keep making memories until the sale of the building. We hope this is only the end of a chapter in our book with many more left to write.”

Jonathan and I, along with our amazing staff have worked tirelessly and endlessly to make this restaurant concept a success and are damn proud of what we have accomplished over the last 16 months. However, in an effort to try and provide the best dining experience in an updated, refined setting we ran into cost and time overruns that have proven to be too difficult to overcome.

Trudy Birds opened December 9, 2022. It serves Scandinavian-style food. A highlight of the bar program is their extensive list of domestic and imported aquavit.

For more information the property, take a look at this listing.

Mobile Food Pantry

The Press Herald reports that the Maine Med food pantry is getting a food truck.

“The idea is to bring free healthy food to people who are food insecure, whether they are unhoused or have a difficult time affording food,” said Barbara Ginley, MaineHealth’s director of community health for Greater Portland. Ginley said some people who need help getting food can’t get to the hospital-run pantry, which is open Thursdays from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at 950 Congress St., the site of the former Greyhound bus station, because they lack transportation or have a medical condition that makes it difficult to stand in line.

CarHop Expands to Kentucky

CarHop (website, facebook, instagram), a Portland-based food delivery company, has announced an expansion into Kentucky.

The development of this new delivery region for CarHop was made possible through the acquisition and licensing agreement with the owner of three Kentucky delivery companies: Colonel Delivery, Berea Delivery, and Bluegrass Local. The three companies deliver the Richmond and Berea areas.

CarHop was founded by Thomas Brems in 2019. This is CarHop’s second out of state expansion—they established a delivery capability in the Cambridge/Somerville area in Massachusetts in 2022.

Edible Maine: Spring 2024

The Spring 2024 edition of Edible Maine is now available.

This issue includes articles about:

Review of South Freeport Village Store, Vegan Veto, Food Styling

Today’s Maine Sunday Telegram includes an article about Maine-based food stylists, an article about the ‘vegan veto’ and a 4 star review of the South Freeport Village Store.

Big Tree Hospitality, one of Maine’s best-known culinary success stories, envisioned South Freeport Village Market as a breakfast-and-lunch café with a small, thoughtfully stocked retail market attached. And it is that, but in this newly built structure with gleaming stainless hood, flat top grill, deli counter and oven, the business is well-equipped to become a great spot for an early evening meal.

What’s Missing?

A post on the Portland Reddit board is getting a lot of engagement. It poses the question “What is Portland’s food scene missing?” So far there have been 294 responses.

Korean food, Mexican food, Greek food, a Jewish delicatessen, a fast casual salad cafe, a steakhouse/chophouse have been frequently mentioned as have ideas like Georgian (the country) food, Peruvian food, a Waffle House, Filipino food, Soul Food, Ukrainian and Polish food, Moroccan food, Lebanese food, French food,  and suggestions for a variety of fast casual chains.

The full thread would be great market research for anyone wanting to open a new spot in Portland and who doesn’t have a concept already selected.