Anthony’s Receives Covid Support Funds

WCYY reports that Anthony’s Italian Kitchen has received support from the Barstool Fund, a $35 Million fund to help restaurants during the pandemic.

The Barstool Fund will cover a number of expenses for Anthony’s until they can open and operate as they did prior to the pandemic. One of the key conditions for receiving assistance from The Barstool Fund was that restaurants had to be keeping a full payroll throughout the pandemic.

Business Closing Time Rolled Back

The 9 pm closing time implemented in Maine to curtail the spread of Covid-19 has been rolled back, reports the Press Herald.

Beginning Monday, businesses that had been subject to the requirement may resume evening operating hours while continuing to follow other public health and safety requirements. Mills pointed to Maine’s declining rate of positive tests and fewer cases per million people to support her decision.

Winter Weekends in Portland

The Boston Globe advises Bostonians (with a recent negative Covid test) to drive North for a visit to Portland.

Want to give your love life a shot in the arm, figuratively speaking? One word: Portland. (You were expecting Paris? Get real.) Part of this recommendation is sheer sentimentality: The gorgeous, laid back Pine Tree State has been the backdrop of much of our romantic history, including sailing trips, country inn and hiking excursions, and assorted kissy-face getaways with our significant others. And Portland has an added benefit, an excellent dining scene. So even if the romance doesn’t sizzle, you’ll have had a great meal or two. Portland in winter may not ring everyone’s romantic chimes, but we set out to see if the city could work its mushy magic on a couple of bedraggled souls who haven’t had a haircut since February 2020.

Dining Out During a Pandemic

The Portland Phoenix has published an article about dining out, customers attitudes, and the pandemic.

I also began to understand the new layer of frustration our hospitality folks are experiencing. There’s an element of survivors’ guilt in acknowledging they have jobs and others don’t. There’s also the extra work, for less money, involved in opening and closing a dining room with a skeleton crew. Servers are also in fear for their own health and the health of those they love.

Outdoor Dining

Maine Public has aired a report on how Maine restaurants are building out enhanced outdoor dining, and engaging in other programs to make it through the Covid winter.

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit Maine’s hospitality industry harder than any other sector. With cold weather taking its grip on 2021 and the surging virus keeping people at home, job losses are accelerating, particularly in the food-service sector. Still, many of Maine’s chefs and restaurant owners continue to find new ways to stay open through the winter.

Hunt & Alpine

Hunt and Alpine co-owners Andrew and Briana Volk were interviewed by Inside Hook about how their cocktail bar has had to change and adapt during the Covid pandemic.

However, Volk realized that even the flintiest of Mainers wouldn’t want to sit outdoors in January, February and March. After New Year’s, the business contracted to a 50-square-foot retail shop inside the bar. Within, shoppers can browse refrigerated cocktails to go in addition to wine, tinned fish, prepared foods, branded clothing and even a pretzel puzzle. Volk also plans to make deliveries in Portland, and possibly to nearby ski areas.

Dining Survey

Mainebiz has published the result of an Eat Drink Lucky survey of 2,010 restaurant patrons.

In the latest report shared with Mainebiz, more than one out of four respondents (27.7%) said they have resumed dining inside, while close to three out of four (72.8%) said they have not.

Of those who had been eating outdoors, only 21.6% of those said they would continue doing so now that the weather has gotten colder, while 45% said they would not and 34.7% said they are not eating out at all.

High Demand at Maine Food Pantries

The Maine Sunday Telegram has published about the high demand at Maine food pantries.

The number of Mainers struggling to feed their families and turning to food pantries for help is rising to new heights as coronavirus cases spike and the state faces its worst loss of jobs in any recession in 50 years.

Food pantry directors say they have stockpiled enough food to meet the need for now, but the volunteer efforts are straining and more federal relief will be needed to address poverty and hunger as the pandemic wears on.

“There is a desperate need out there,” said Don Bisson, executive director of the Biddeford Food Pantry, where there has been a 25 percent increase in clients since this time last year.

Outdoor Dining Extended to May 10th

News Center Maine reports that the City Council has extended the outdoor dining provisions through the winter to May 10th.

The Portland City Council voted unanimously Monday night to extend outdoor dining to May 10. The extension is part of the City’s emergency proclamation.

“This is not just for business owners, but for folks who work in one of our largest industries,” City Councilor Spencer Thibodeau said.

The City extended outdoor dining on public sidewalks and parking spots in October. That was set to expire Monday. 

Boston Globe: Struggling Portland Restaurants

The Boston Globe has published an article on the impact the pandemic is having on the Portland restaurant scene.

Across the city, Portland’s restaurateurs are asking the same question. Battered by pandemic restrictions, the city’s once-thriving dining scene is now in depressing straits, contracting in ways that were unthinkable before the virus hit in March.

One-quarter to a third of the restaurants in the Portland area have closed after a sparse tourist season and might never reopen, industry observers said. And for those that have survived — so far, at least — revenue has shrunk to a small fraction of its pre-pandemic total, the workforce has been reduced to skeleton crews, and hopes for a turnaround next year are guarded, at best.