North Street Fire GoFundMe

A house fire broke out on North Street early Saturday morning. The blaze has left three local hospitality staff with little more with what they could grab as they left the building. Henry Schroder works at Po’ Boys & Pickles, Tucker Wanzer is the manager of Captain Sam’s Ice Cream, and Megan Lowe works at Mast Landing.

Schroeder’s employer Chris Bettera has established a $20,000 GoFundMe campaign to raise funds to “help them secure a new apartment and replace some of what they lost”.

Vegan Lunches & Cooking Classes

Today’s Maine Sunday Telegram includes an article about the return of vegan lunches to Portland schools, and

In September, Portland, Maine’s largest school district, restarted its vegan hot lunch program for the elementary schools. It was begun in the 2019-2020 school year but put on hold the following year because of remote schooling during the pandemic. It resumed this fall. Each day, students in the city’s 10 elementary schools can choose among a vegan hot lunch, a traditional hot lunch or a vegan sunflower seed butter and jelly sandwich.

an article that highlights some of the options for cooking classes being offered in Maine.

Are you resolved to shuck your first dozen oysters this year, to master a few Italian classics, or simply to cook more and eat out less? When looking for a nudge to get started, you might be surprised to discover the bounty of culinary classes offered around the state. Those seeking to hone their kitchen skills, expand their repertoire of recipes, or to safely “travel” to a new country by way of its cuisine can choose from a mouthwatering Maine menu that features both in-person and virtual, hands-on and demonstration classes.

Food insecurity

The Sun Journal has posted a report on the fight to end hunger in Maine.

What it means, the report said, is that “each day thousands of children show up to school too hungry to learn, thousands of workers are too economically insecure to thrive, and thousands of Maine people are contending with entirely preventable ill-health.”

Supporting The Sinful Kitchen

The American Journal has published a report on a fundraising event run by Brea Lu in Westbrook to support The Sinful Kitchen. The event raised more than $4,000.

Staff at Brea Lu Cafe in Westbrook worked an extra, unusual shift Tuesday and raised more than $4,000 for the employees of The Sinful Kitchen in Portland, who lost wages when a fire forced that restaurant to temporarily close just before the holidays.

Brea Lu owner Christian DeLuca said he and his staff pulled a nearly 20-hour day to offer their breakfast menu during dinnertime, when they are normally closed. The total money made during the special hours will go to the 14 Sinful Kitchen employees down the street, on Brighton Avenue at Nason’s Corner.

Responding to Covid

The Bangor Daily News and Press Herald have both taken a look at how restaurants are responding to the challenge of operating during the pandemic.

The emerging omicron variant is the latest stumbling block for restaurants, with cases expected to skyrocket soon in Maine. The spreading virus, occasional restaurant closures and ongoing staffing shortages are adding more financial stress on top of already reduced business hours, supply chain issues and rising costs.

The Portland City Council recently reinstituted a mask mandate for indoor spaces including restaurants, and a small but growing number of restaurants and bars are opting to put in place proof of vaccination policies (see list).

Portland Pie Walkout

The Press Herald and Bangor Daily News have published reports on a recent walkout by Portland Pie staff “to protest the company’s handling of COVID-19 cases in the restaurant and working conditions overall.”

Frustrated workers walked off their jobs at the Portland Pie Co. in Portland to protest the company’s handling of COVID-19 cases in the restaurant and working conditions overall.

Sunday started poorly at the pizza restaurant and bar on York Street. The kitchen was understaffed, the computer system couldn’t accept gift cards and some other payments, and people were stressed about recent COVID-19 infections among their colleagues, said Ashley McAndrew, a former bartender.

New Porthole Owners

A new set of owners have taken over The Porthole. The Upward Management Group is led by Joe Christopher, Kevin Casey and John Jabar. According to the press release,

They’ve gained notoriety in recent years by revitalizing other well known eateries in the Casco Bay region. Most notably they re-opened “Portland’s Original Ale House” @threedollardeweys and South Portland’s Saltwater Grille.

Joe, Kevin, and John could not be more excited for the opportunity to run what has been an anchor of the Old Port since 1929. The Porthole is known far and wide because of the incredible reputation that Ken McGowan built here.

Upward Management relaunched Three Dollar Deweys in 2019 and also owns the Saltwater Grille in South Portland.