The Rise of the Restaurmart

‪A growing number of takeout restaurants now sell groceries too. If a restaurmart sounds like a good match for your needs, then check out this list:

  • Botto’s Provisions – is selling “Baking Essentials: flour, sugar, breadcrumbs, and YEAST!” Order online.
  • Drifters Wife – will begin selling provisions and meal kits in early May. Order online.
  • Frog and Turtle – sells a variety of canned goods, cheeses, breads, meats. Order online.
  • Lake & Co – sells a wide variety of groceries. Order online.
  • Local 188 – is selling groceries and provisions, “toilet paper, flour, eggs, butter, yeast, OJ, milk, half and half, paper towels, honey, olive oil, sugar, English muffins, corn tortillas, flour tortillas, canned tomatoes, hot peppers, onions, carrots, peppers, garlic, peppercorn, salt, dried beans, rice, hot sauce, potatoes AND fresh local fish from our fish monger”.
  • Maine Beer Co. – sells flour, rice, cheese and other provisions. Order online.
  • Mainely Burgers – has pick-up and delivery for a wide variety of provisions. Order online.
  • Market Street Eats – is selling a regular and burly sized Basic Box consisting of eggs, flour vegetables, chicken, toilet paper, etc. Order online.
  • More & Co. – is selling weekly Care Packages which include “Wine/beer/sparkling water, coffee, bread, cake, cheese, carrots, micro greens, flowers, tea and honey”. Order online.
  • Novare Res – is selling ice cream, waffles, pasta, slim jims, nitrile gloves, potato chips, toilet paper, and other items. Order online.
  • Po’ Boys & Pickles – Po’ Boys & Provisions sells “Eggs, Sugar, AP flour, Rice, Butter, Frozen Gumbo, Hot Sauce, and more items coming”. Order online.
  • Sur Lie – sells “weekly, rotating selection of vegetables and meats from our local farmers at Stonecipher Farm and LP Bisson and Sons. There are two options…a vegetable farmer’s basket or a meat & vegetable farmer’s basket.” Order online.
  • The Garrison – is selling staples like eggs, butter, pasta and paper towels along with chef Christian Hayes food. Order Online.

Update: The James Beard Foundation and the Bangor Daily News have now written about the trend of restaurants selling groceries.

Family Meal

Family Meal is a new weekly delivery service providing free meals to restaurant and bar staff in Portland who have lost their job due to the pandemic. The program will launch on Sunday, April 26th. Complete this form to sign-up.

Each week Family Meal will deliver “either a homemade lasagna or mac n’ cheese, two drinks (Rising Tide beer or soda) and a baked item.” Food will be provided on a first-come-first-serve basis. If the demand exceeds the supply the organizers will cycle through the list on the second week.

Family Meal is being launched by Those Familiar Spirits and the first week is sponsored by Hardshore Distilling and Rising Tide Brewing. To become a sponsor, or for more information contact brianarocks@gmail.com.

That Restaurant Sound

Restaurant critic Andrew Ross has written an article about the sound tracks restaurants use to reinforce the brands of their establishments.

To some, the opening bars of “Chicago” by Sufjan Stevens sound like a station identification break from some long-forgotten, Deco-era radio station, the kind of tinkling glockenspiel theme you’d hear played live, every 15 minutes. But to me, that song will always sound like milky coffee and scones.

Fire at Browne Trading

A fire broke out at Browne Trading Thursday night. The 3-alarm blaze was mostly contained to the retail store but the wholesale facility also sustained some damage, reports the Press Herald.

The flames were centered on the one-story retail store, Gautreau said. Fire heavily damaged the interior of the building and roof. Most of the three-floor production facility sustained smoke and soot damage, but firefighters were able to save about $250,000 worth of caviar that was stored inside, [Portland Fire Chief Keith] Gautreau said.

Fire at Walkers Maine

Walkers Maine in Cape Neddick suffered a fire on April 1st. Here’s a statement from owners Justin and Danielle Walker,

On April 1, 2020 Walkers Maine suffered from fire damage. The good news is no one was hurt and we have an incredible community resource in the York fire department who responded within minutes during a pandemic. We can’t thank them enough.

Danielle and I are saddened that we won’t be able to cook for you during this tenuous time, but rest assured; we will work quickly to get our restaurant up and running again.

We’ve even begun the process of investigating how to keep our take out business alive while the restaurant undergoes repairs. I’m able to cook with a small kitchen or high end facility and while the fire may interrupt our business; it can’t take away my creativity and ingenuity when it comes to doing what I love.

We can’t tell you how much the outpouring of support during this time has meant to us. Even under our current circumstances, we know with you in our corner we will prevail.

Stay tuned for more updates and stay safe.

Justin & Danielle Walker

Dreams on Hold…Now What

Today’s Press Herald takes a look at the special challenges being faced by restaurateurs whose restaurants were open briefly or just slated to open moments before the pandemic slammed into the Maine restaurant industry.

For several weeks now, the coronavirus pandemic has pummeled dining rooms in Maine and around the country – with no end yet in sight. And while some restaurants have been able to turn to curbside takeout, many have closed for the interim. “The uncertainty of it is agonizing,” Raquel Stevens said. In an interview with the New York Times in late March, internationally known chef/restaurateur David Chang predicted that small independently owned restaurants, exactly the sort that make Portland such an exciting restaurant city, will have “a morbidly high death rate.”

Perhaps none are more at risk than the newcomers. And perhaps none are more determined to beat the odds.

Food Goes Virtual

Many areas of our lives have gone online as a response to the corona virus pandemic. Those who can, now are working from home, FaceTime calls are taking the place of meeting friends in person, and yoga studios like Lila have overhauled their approach to teach classes online.

The restaurant industry is also finding new ways to use digital media to remain connected with their customers and build connections among them…from a distance.

  • Paolo Laboa from Solo Italiano has been posting cooking videos on instagram. In the most recent the one chef Laboa shows how to make crepes with a savory filling of ricotta and spinach, swiss chard, pea shoots and borage.
  • Baristas from Tandem and Bard have gone on instagram to demo how to get the best cup of coffee from your home aero press, chemex or pour over set-up.
  • Briana Holt from Tandem has published a video with detailed instructions and recipe on how to make her buttermilk biscuits. The video is available for a donation and all the funds go to supporting out of work Tandem staff. So far Beneficial Biscuit initiative has raised $10,000 towards a $25k goal and unleashed an army of home bakers who have posted photos of the biscuits they’ve made based on Holt’s recipe. “We want to do everything we can right now for our crew,” said Tandem co-founder Kathleen Pratt, “and this little thing we started has also brought together our community, which is something we’re really proud of and really missing right now.”
  • The Maine Sommelier Society recently held their monthly blind wine tasting via a video conference.
  • Wine Wise is now pairing up with restaurants to offer virtual wine and food events. Participants get a meal and wine for two delivered to their door, and then tune in to a video conference to engage with the featured chef and Wine Wise founder Erica Archer to learn more about what they’re drinking and eating. Events with Sur Lie and Solo Italiano have already sold out, but tickets for two sessions with Chaval are still available.

Grocery Staple Shortages

The Press Herald reports that some grocery staples will continue to be in short supply as the supply chain adjusts to higher demand from home consumers.

There’s plenty of food on store shelves, but the supply chain is scrambling to keep certain basic items in stock amid unprecedented demand partially created because people are staying home and cooking instead of eating out.

Easter and Passover Takeout

Some restaurants and markets are starting to announce takeout options for Passover and Easter:

  • Union – is offering a glazed ham dinner with a salad, quiche, three sides and carrot cake. $65 for two, $95 for four.
  • Chaval – has posted menus for Thursday through Saturday including a packed Easter dinnner.
  • Royal River Grill House – has spiral ham, pork crown roast, leg of lamb, prime rib roast, and truffle mac and cheese available for order in family size portions from their website.
  • The Black Tie Company – has a full menu of Easter dinner mains, sides and bakery/dessert items to go. You need “order by 5pm this Wednesday for pickup or delivery on Friday. 207-761-6665”
  • Luke’s Lobster – for pickup on Saturday. “you’ll get grilled lobster tails, slow roasted lamb shoulder from North Star Sheep Farm, local day boat scallops wrapped in bacon, potatoes, salad, and Bixby treats”, $45 per person. (207) 274-6097.
  • Buxton Common – has both Passover and Easter dinner menus.
  • Sea Glass – has a takeout Easter dinner menu.
  • The Good Table – has an Easter dinner takeout menu.
  • Other Side Deli – the butcher shop at Other Side Deli has lamb leg roasts, whole lamb racks, and house-brined and smoked hams. Orders must be in by April 7th.
  • Pat’s Meat Market – has meats for Passover and Easter. Order online.

If you know of any other restaurants offering Easter or Passover takeout please let me know.