As Winter Approaches

The Bangor Daily News talked to restaurant owners from around Maine about their plans for this winter.

As cold weather sets in around Maine, restaurant owners and their staff now face an uncertain winter season. After a warm-weather season that was better than expected and helped greatly by expanded outdoor dining across the state, some eateries are concerned about keeping customers as temperatures drop and snow flies.

Plant-Based Foods from Black-Owned Restaurants

Today’s Maine Sunday Telegram takes a look at the plant-based foods being offered at Black-owned restaurants in Portland.

In Maine, we’re blessed to have the new directory, which allows users to search by business category and region of Maine. When the site launched in June, it confirmed what I suspected. Portland is home to many Black-owned restaurants, and most offer robust vegan choices.

PBS News Hour: Portland Small Business

Chef Damian Sansonetti from Chaval was interviewed for a segment on the PBS News Hour about how the pandemic is impacting small businesses in Portland.

October is a funny business in Maine. Warm days and cold nights; New England’s northern tip offers a confusing waltz between the seasonal past and what is to come. But this October is particularly difficult to read. After a summer nearly canceled by the pandemic, the fall is offering Portland a few extra chances at economic recovery. But, winter is coming, and the brief resumption of business made possible by warmer weather and outdoor space is in its final days.

Also interviewed for the report were Mary Alice Scott from Portland Buy Local, Lauren Wayne from the State Theatre and city councilor Justin Costa.

C4C Matching Challenge x 2

Evergreen Credit Union has announced that they’ll be matching all donation to Cooking for Community now through Friday up to a total of $2,000.

Combined with the matching challenge already in place this will mean every dollar donated will result $4 for Cooking for Community in their work to feed the hungry while supporting local restaurants, and Maine food producers.

You can make a donation at

Expanded Capacity and Outdoor Timeline

The Press Herald reports that Governor announced plans yesterday to allow for the re-opening of bars and for expanded seating limits in restaurants,

Numerous restaurant and bar owners contacted Tuesday welcomed the loosening of restrictions on indoor gatherings, but said they don’t intend to relax the safeguards they’ve put in place and will proceed with caution to protect their employees and customers from contracting the highly contagious virus. Bars have been among the last businesses required to stay shuttered during the pandemic.

The City of Portland is also looking at extending the timeframe for outdoor seating until January 2nd according to reports in the Portland Phoenix and Press Herald.

The city is still studying whether and how to keep outdoor dining going until Jan. 2, said Jessica Grondin, director of communications for the city of Portland. City staff is preparing a more detailed plan that will be presented to the council for a vote on Oct. 19.

Cooking for Community Matching Challenge

A group of donors is offering to match all donations made to Cooking for Community between now and October 9th up to a total of $75,000. This 1:1 match has the potential to raise $150k for the important work Cooking for Community does supporting restaurants and feeding the hungry.

Cooking for Community (website, facebook, instagram) was founded in Portland just this past April. As explained in this Christian Science Monitor article, donations to the organization are used to pay Maine restaurant to make meals which local social service organization distribute to people in need.

Make a Donation today.

Roast Beef & Meal Ticketing

Today’s Maine Sunday Telegram includes a look at the ticket-based reservation model that some restaurants in Maine are starting to use,

“Everything else is changing, so why not?” Lyle Aker, co-owner of Portland’s soon-to-open Broken Arrow, said. “Our intent was to open as a regular full-service restaurant. But now to control costs, the model of Next seems like kind of a good idea.”

“Tickets give us the most control over timing so we can get service right and protect the customers as well when they’re not being forced to wait outside or at the bar,” added co-owner Holly Aker.

and details on three new options for roast beef sandwiches in Portland (George’s, Haltead’s, Roll Call),

Chef Michael Sindoni of Roll Call initially considered focusing on a North Shore sandwich, but he felt the sauces and cheese were “hiding the beef.” Add to that the fact that he didn’t have an emotional connection to the sandwich the way that North Shore fans do, and “it just didn’t do it for me.” George’s came on the scene at about the same time. That was “complete coincidence,” Sindoni said, “but we were probably thinking the same thing at the same time – that no one’s really doing a great roast beef sandwich here.”

Sunday Food Reading

Grab a cup of coffee and get caught up on some recent food writing about the Portland/Maine food scene:

Tasting Rooms

The Press Herald reports on the concerns of tasting room operators as cooler the seasons change.

When the state adopted new rules for businesses to reopen this summer, tasting room operations were lumped in with bars, because their licenses are the same, and told they could only operate outdoors. But Bodine and others are worried about the future of tasting rooms if the rules aren’t changed before cold weather hits in another month or two.