Maine Food & Dining News: Northport, Dover-Foxcroft, Union, Alna, Presque Isle

New food and dining developments are taking place all across Maine. Here are some recent updates to keep you in the know on what’s going on:

  • The owners of Spark Bagel (website, instagram) have leased the former The Stone Pizzeria building in Northport. Initially they’ll use it solely as a bagel production kitchen, but plan to eventually open it up as a retail shop as well.
  • The Courrier-Gazette has published an article about Alsace the new restaurant that opened last year in the town of Union.
  • The Lincoln County News has published an article about The Alna Store. The restaurant was recently named a 2024 Beard Awards semifinalist in the Best New Restaurant category.
  • The Bangor Daily News reports that a new restaurant called Maple Pig Bar & Grill is under construction in Presque Isle.
  • Whittle Bird (instagram) is operating a coffee pop-up at 83 East Main Street in Dover-Foxcroft. The coffee shop will be in operation through the spring while they’re working on a new coffee trailer.

Maine Food & Dining News: North Berwick, Brunswick, Belfast, Camden, Fort Kent, Liberty

New food and dining developments are taking place all across Maine. Here are some recent updates to keep you in the know on what’s going on:

  • A new bakery called Baker Bru (instagram) is under development in North Berwick. It will be co-located at the Boulay Farm and Market (facebook) currently under construction at 381 High Street. Owner Alex d’Emarese will be channeling his South African and Italian heritage selling a menu that includes focaccia and ciabatta bread, various types of cornetti, tarts, cookies, and featuring South African meat pies (spinach and feta, peppered steak, chicken and veggies, bacon/egg/cheese). Baker Bru will also have ready to eat sandwiches and prepared meals to go. d’Emarese plans to have gluten-free variations for many of his menu items. The bakery and market is expected to launch by the end of February open 8 am – 6 pm daily.
  • Reverie Coffee House (instagram) in Brunswick opened for business (upper left) on Sunday. Reverie serves a variety of baked goods and coffee drinks prepared with beans from Time and Tide in Biddeford. They’re located at 117 Maine Street and will be open Thursday through Monday, 7 – 2.
  • Dos Gatos Gastropub (instagram) in Belfast launched on Friday. Their menu features tacos and a drinks list that includes mocktails, classic cocktails, margarita variants and a small list of specialty cocktails. See this report from Camden Famous for additional details. They’re open Friday through Monday, 4:30 – 10 pm.
  • The First Fig (instagram) cafe/winebar/wine shop in Camden is scheduled to open on Friday. Owner Joanna Spinks will be serving Kavka Coffee, croissants from The Place bakery, breads from Brazen Baking as well as wine and beer by the glass. First Fig will be open Wednesday through Saturday 10 am – 6 pm.
  • The Madawaska location of Sami’s Cuisine and Cocktails is closing but the Fort Kent location will remain in business.
  • Down East has published a profile of Pottles in Liberty. “Comfort food and a complete lack of pretense prevail at the cozy new pub in Liberty.”
  • The Bowdoin Orient has published an article about The Abbey—a hybrid coffee shop and cocktail bar that opened in December in Brunswick.
  • Edelweiss in Biddeford and Tres Leches in South Portland recently opened for business.
  • Meridians in Fairfield (upper right photo) and Maples in New Gloucester recently went out of business.
  • Blake Orchard has announced plans to expand to Brunswick and Scarborough.

Blake Orchard to Expand

Blake Orchard (websitefacebook, instagram) has announced plans to open two new locations in 2024. The first is scheduled to open this spring at 2 Station Ave in Brunswick, and the second will be in Dunstan Village in Scarborough and will open this fall.

Blake Orchard serves a menu of plant-based foods including smoothie drinks and bowls, raw cold-pressed juices, matcha and coffee. Alexandra Blake Messenger founded Blake Orchard in 2015. The business was initially located on Exchange Street before moving to 561 Forest Ave.

Maine Food & Dining News: Bangor, Van Buren, Skowhegan, Milo, Brunswick, Alna, Searsport, Westbrook, Damariscotta

New food and dining developments are taking place all across Maine. Here are some recent updates to keep you in the know on what’s going on:

  • Ana “Betty” Guzman has leased space at 1012 Stillwater Ave in Bangor where she plans to open Betty’s Ice Cream. Guzman hopes to have Betty’s open by early March. Guzman hails from Degollado, Mexico and her menu will feature Mexican-style ice cream.
  • The Northern Maine Kolache Co. (facebook, instagram) is set to open this Saturday in Van Buren in Aroostook County. Owner Donita Ayotte plans to specialize in preparing Kolaches filled with savory and sweet ingredients.
  • The Brick House Kitchen (facebook, instagram) in Skowhegan recently reopened under the ownership of Sarah Dore and Alex Wyman. The restaurant is open for lunch 6 days a week and plans are in the works to add a brunch service.
  • Three of the 2024 Beard Awards semifinalists from Maine are located outside of Portland in Milo, Brunswick and Alna.
  • Amandine (instagram) opened for business on Thursday. The Searsport bakery is is selling breads, custom cakes, and other baked good including Kürtőskalács a Hungarian pastry. Ladonna Bruce is the head baker for Amandine. They’ll be open Monday through Saturday, 10 am – 4 pm.
  • The Don’s Lunch food truck is opening a restaurant in the former River’s Edge Deli site in Westbrook. Owner Craig Bernier hopes to open later this winter or in early spring.
  • The Kickstarter campaign to help purchase S. Fernald’s Country Store in Damariscotta has so far raised $31k of their $35k goal.

2024 Beard Awards Semifinalists

The list of semifinalists for the 2024 James Beard Foundation Awards was just released. There are 10 semifinal nominees from Maine:

The final list of nominees (5 per category) will be released April 3rd, and the awards ceremony will take place on Monday June 10th in Chicago.

Related information:

Maine Food & Dining News: Searsport, Waterville, Lewiston, Brunswick, Newport

New food and dining developments are taking place all across Maine. Here are some recent updates to keep you in the know on what’s going on:

  • A new bakery cafe called Amandine (instagram) is under construction in Searsport (see above). The business is being launched by Russell and Oana Manton who also own and operate Rio’s Restaurant in Searsport. Amandine will sell breads, custom cakes, and other baked good including Kürtőskalács a Hungarian pastry. Ladonna Bruce will be the head baker for Amandine. The bakery is scheduled to launch on January 25th and will be open Monday through Saturday, 10 am – 4 pm.
  • The Lebanese bakery in Waterville has closed after 44 years in business. Lebanese Cuisine closed after owner Laya Joseph passed away earlier this month.
  • Students at the Lewiston Regional Technical Center culinary program are kicking-off the 2024 lunch series at their student-run restaurant The Green Ladle (instagram). Thursdays and Fridays from January 25th through early April they serve a different weekly themed menu. Reservations required (207-777-3199).
  • Lil Jam Cookies (website, instagram) is moving from Lisbon Falls to Maine Street in Brunswick.
  • A new roastery called Crouse House Coffee Roastery (website, instagram) recently launched in Lewiston. They’re located at 25 Landry Road and are open Saturdays, 1 – 5 pm.
  • Lalu Dedi Sutanto plans to open a Japanese hibachi steakhouse called Crazy Sumo 2 in Newport early this year.
  • The Kickstarter campaign to help purchase S. Fernald’s Country Store in Damariscotta has so far raised $20k of their $35k goal.

Maine Food & Dining News: Damariscotta, Lisbon Falls, Ellsworth, Bethel

New food and dining developments are taking place all across Maine. Here are some recent updates to keep you in the know on what’s going on:

Maine Food & Dining News: Camden, Bar Harbor, Bath, Biddeford

New food and dining developments are taking place all across Maine. Here are some recent updates to keep you in the know on what’s going on:

  • Warren Wine Shop (instagram) owner Joanna Spinks has leased 31 Elm Street (above) in Camden where she plans to open First Fig which will serve Kavka Coffee, croissants from The Place bakery, breads from Brazen Baking in the mornings as well as wine and beer by the glass later in the day. First Fig will also be a wine retail shop. 31 Elm Street was previously occupied by an Oyster River Winegrowers tasting room. Spinks hopes to open First Fig by the end of January.
  • The Bangor Daily News has a report on some sales activity in the Bar Harbor restaurant industry.
  • A new restaurant called Linden + Front is under construction in the former Relish/Salt Pine Social space in Bath.
  • Buttermilk Kitchen at Marriner’s is under construction in Camden.
  • Owners Anna and Bowman Brown announced they’ve decided to “close Jackrabbit Cafe as we know it.”

The 2023 Year In Review

Here’s a look back at the 2023 year in food. It’s been a very busy year of events, openings and, sadly, of closings too. Read on for a refresher on the year we just experienced and for a look at the new restaurants, bars, pizzerias, and other business that are in the pipeline.

Closings – Some restaurant close every year whether due to retirement, lack of business success, owners interest in pursuing a new venture or external personal circumstance. However, 2023 has clearly seen much more than its fair share. 2023 has been notable not only for the overall number of business closures, but also for touching established businesses as well as more recent arrivals alike.

To name just a few there was Little Woodfords, Maine Mead Works, the Rosemont wine bar, and Bull Feeney’s in Q1, Blue Spoon (since reopened in Rockport), Tiqa, Full Turn and Timber in Q2 and Vena’s shared plans not to launch their new bar/retail shop, Petite Jacqueline, Rick’s Lobby Cafe, The Danforth, Wolf Peach in Camden in Q3, and the CBD on Congress, the Other Side Deli, Judy Gibson, Radici, The Snug and Cabana in Q4. See this page and the month-by-month recap below for a fuller accounting of the departures.

Hopefully as we head into 2024 we’ll see this peak in these losses to the food and dining community subside.

Maine Food Map – The energy that’s powered the Portland area restaurant scene for the last decade is also now making an impact on communities across the state. New hospitality businesses are launching in small towns like Waterford and Alna as well as in tourist destinations like Rangeley and Eastport. Nowhere has that entrepreneurial activity been more keenly evident than in the Midcoast. However, the last two years have also seen notable establishments opening in locations like Gardiner and Lewiston—cities that weren’t at the top of anyone’s #TheNextBiddeford list. A pandemic influenced in-migration to Maine from other states is one of the contributing factors which has brought experienced professionals to (or back to) Maine and a growing customer base for the businesses they’re creating.

Take a look back the 2023 reporting on the Maine food scene for more details, but here are some of the highlights:

  • Beard Awards: The Quarry in Monson was a Beard Awards winner in the Outstanding Hospitality Category, and Nezinscot Farm in Turner was named a James Beard America’s Classics Award winner
  • Kennebunk: Chefs Nate Norris and Annie Callan opened Bev’s Cafe and Market in Kennebunk
  • Bath/Brunswick: Caballeras, BizziBuns, Oysthers, and The Abbey all opened. A new Holy Donut shop, Reverie Coffee and Linden + Front are under construction. After a long hiatus Tao Yuan reopened.
  • Camden/Rockport: Costa Media opened in the former Wolf Peach building. Additionally,  Albatross, the new bar at The Norumbega, The Place Bakery, Sea Hag Cidery and the relocated Blue Spoon opened. Buttermilk Kitchen is under construction.
  • Thomaston: Honey’s is under construction and Uproot Pie Company just opened.
  • Alna: The Maine Sunday Telegram named The Alna Store their pick for the Best New Restaurant of 2023.
  • Greenville: the Blair Hill Inn hired Max Snyder as their new chef.
  • Belfast: a new wine bar called Pulling Corks, and a taco/cocktail bar called Dos Gatos are under construction.
  • Wiscassett: The “prettiest village in Maine” saw the opening of Jolie Rodger’s and Yonder, and Jodie’s took the place of Sarah’s.
  • Blue Hill Peninsula: Travel and Leisure declared the Blue Hill peninsula “One of the Best Places to Eat in the U.S. Right Now“.
  • Union/Warren: Alsace opened in Union and the Black Goat Test Kitchen opened in Warren.
  • Lewiston: The opening of Bon Vivant brought fine dining back to Lewiston.
  • Waldoboro: The Waldoboro Inn launched Ida’s their fun bar and pop-up collaboration venue.
  • Gardiner: Table Bar launched a dinner service with chef Jimmy Leftis.
  • Buxton: Oak & Ember opened in September.
  • Saco: The Scandinavian bakery Fika opened.
  • Waterford: The launch of Tallulah’s at The Waterford Inne.

Upcoming in 2024 – There remains a strong pipeline of new businesses under development in the Portland area. For a full list see our Under Construction list. Here are just some highlights to look forward to:

There are also several other exciting new projects in the works that we’ll be writing about soon. Check back soon for all the details.

Notable Events of 2023

Passings

Top 10 Articles

The most popular articles published on Portland Food Map in the past year.

  1. Salvatore’s Hoagies – first word of the new sandwich takeout business.
  2. Oak & Ember – first word about a new restaurant in Buxton.
  3. 2023 Beard Semifinalists – 11 Maine restaurants and chefs were named as awards semifinalists.
  4. Battery Steele – first word of the brewery’s expansion to Wells.
  5. Bistro Leluco – opening of the restaurant in South Portland.
  6. Wander at Longwoods – first word about the farm-to-table restaurant in Cumberland.
  7. Tacos La Poblanita – first word of their new restaurant in Westbrook.
  8. Thanksgiving List – the 2023 edition of our Thanks giving Resource list.
  9. Lambs – opening announcement for Lambs in South Portland.
  10. Lecha – first word about the new boba tea and ice cream shop in Deering Center.

For an additional perspective on the past year in food see the Maine Sunday Telegram Dine Out Maine: Best of 2023 article, and the Portland Old Port 2023 wrap-up.

This is the 14th year running that Portland Food Map has published a year in review article. Take a walk down memory lane by checking out these past editions that covered 2022, 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, and 2010.

Buttermilk Kitchen in Camden

Chef Suzanne Vizethann (website, instagram) has purchased the Marriner’s Restaurant in Camden where she plans to open a new restaurant that blends elements of Marriner’s and her Atlanta restaurant Buttermilk Kitchen.

Marriner’s has been in business for 82 years and its been owned and operated since 1982 by Dan and Becki Gabriele. Vizethann will temporarily close Marriner’s in January for renovation with plans to re-open it as Buttermilk Kitchen at Marriner’s (instagram) by the end of April.

Some of the Atlanta Buttermilk Kitchen staff will be visiting Maine in the spring to help with the launch. Brandon Muggy will be moving permanently from Atlanta to Maine to be the general manager.

Vizethann is the author of Welcome to Buttermilk Kitchen and founded Buttermilk Kitchen (instagram) in 2012. She was a James Beard Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Fellow in 2022. She has appeared on Food Network shows Beat Bobby Flay, Guy’s Grocery Games, and Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. She’s also a Chopped champion. Her food has been described as having a “whimsical and modernistic approach to the typical American breakfast”.

Photo Credit: Suzanne Vizethann