Ameera Bread

Today’s Maine Sunday Telegram reports on the backstory behind the closure of Ameera Bread.

Abdul said Abbas tried to renege on the deal after learning Abdul was transgender and in the process of transitioning from male to female. Abdul obtained a protection from harassment order against Abbas, and their agreement wound up in court.

Court documents, interviews and written statements shed light on an unusual dispute that has divided a family and forced the closure of Ameera Bread, one of the city’s most popular food businesses and a fixture in the Portland area’s diverse community of Middle Eastern immigrants.

The article does say, “The business remains closed, but Abdul said it is being refurbished, and they hope to reopen in November regardless of the legal case.” So Ameera may be returning soon.

Chef Louis Pickens

The Portland Phoenix has published an article about Louis Pickens, the chef and owner of Black Betty’s Bistro.

In Portland, Pickens cooked in hotel and nursing home kitchens before starting his own company, Black Betty’s Bistro, named after the cast-iron stove his grandmother had back in Texas, where Pickens said generations of his family learned to love food.

After the coronavirus pandemic threw a wrench into his plans to open a storefront in the space next door, he said he’s been grateful that the community has kept him afloat. He’s cooking family-sized meals to go for pickup on Thursdays and Saturdays, and has catered for a school in South Portland.

Tin Pan Bakery & Managing the Front Lines

Today’s Maine Sunday Telegram includes an article about Tin Pan Bakery owner Elise Richter,

Like many other small, independent business people in this pandemic year, Elise Richer is tired.

She has been forced to rethink many aspects of her homey Tin Pan Bakery in the Nasons Corner neighborhood of Portland, from its packaging and pricing, retail sales and recipes to its menu options and online ordering system.

and an article about managing front of house customer relations during a pandemic.

Four years later, owners and managers across Maine find themselves getting involved in their businesses in a more visible way. They still pitch in behind the scenes, but these days, their skills (and authority) are being marshaled to help waitstaff, bartenders, bussers and hosts (collectively called the “front of house”) navigate the choppy waters of pandemic-era customer service.

Restaurant Worker Quandary

An article in this week’s Portland Phoenix explores the difficult choice restaurant workers have to make—balancing personal/family health and financial needs—when considering when to return to work.

“Everyone obviously wants things to be normal and wants things to go back to normal,” said one Portland bartender, Hanna, who left her job in July after feeling uncomfortable with on-premise dining. “If we can make things feel normal for a couple hours then that seems worth it to a lot of people, but I know that my coworkers were pretty uncomfortable with everything.”

Despite new COVID-19 regulations, sanitation precautions, and mandated masks, industry workers said they feel unsafe returning to work, yet feel pressure to continue working at the risk of losing financial security.

Dean’s Sweets on Marketplace

Dean’s Sweets will be featured this Thursday on the public radio show Marketplace as part of a report on past and current sales, trends, and future effects of the pandemic on small retailers around the country.

According the an announcement from Dean’s Sweets on the show,

Co-owner Kristin Thalheimer Bingham describes the challenges of owning a food-related business at this time, as well as outlining the strategies Dean’s Sweets has employed to build their business during the uncertainty of the pandemic. Bingham also projects how the pandemic may affect the fall and upcoming holiday season.

Dean’s Sweets last appeared Marketplace late last November. This week’s piece will mark the sixth time Marketplace has featured the Portland chocolate maker.

WIne Enthusiast 40 Under 40

Wine Enthusiast magazine has named Andrew and Briana Volk, owners of the Portland Hunt & Alpine Club, to their 2020 40 Under 40 list.

…In 2013, the duo opened Portland Hunt + Alpine Club in the other Portland. With Andrew overseeing day-to-day operations and Briana focusing on public relations, events, creative direction and marketing, the establishment has earned two James Beard Award nominations for Outstanding Cocktail Program. The Volks also helped to cofound Heart of Hospitality, a program that trains Maine bars and restaurants on sexual assault prevention and bystander intervention, and are working on the opening of Verna’s All Day, a small market and restaurant that will offer a wine program focused on women winemakers…

Femidish: Fork Food Lab

The Femidish podcast has a week long series going on interviewing a set of Fork Food Lab entrepreneurs.

Welcome to our Fork Food Lab mini series! Fork Food Lab is a shared commercial kitchen and food business incubator space in Portland, Maine. This series will profile the organization and hear from four (count ’em, 4!) businesses who use the kitchen to create their products – the makers who call Fork Food Lab home and appreciate it’s important role in starting their business. For this first episode of the series, The Femidish ladies were privileged to interview the wonderful staff of women at FFL, who explain to listeners what the Food Lab does, why it’s an important pillar in the food system, and how women and the economy can benefit from this organization.  Stay tuned for the rest of series hearing from a chocolatier, a baker, food truck owners, and a natural snack maker.