Cong Tu Bot Expansion

Cong Tu Bot owners Jessica Sheahan  and Vien Dobui have leased 300 sq ft of additional space at 75 Washington Ave to expand the CTB kitchen.

A larger kitchen will enable Cong Tu Bot to add a lunch service which has been part of the vision for the business since it opened. It will also provide the room to bring online the in-house production of wheat noodles for the Mi Quang dish (“wheat noodles w/rice noodles, pork, shrimp, peanuts, less broth”) which has been an unrealized part of the menu since 2017.

Dobui and Sheehan hope to have construction completed and launch the lunch service before the start of summer. The lunch options will initially be similar to the menu served for dinner but the plan is to eventually add lunch-only dishes.

Elda Moving and Expanding

Elda (website, instagram) chef/owner Bowman Brown has leased space in the Pepperell Mill Campus in Biddeford. Brown will be taking over building 19A with plans to relocate his restaurant to the 2nd floor, and add bakery and cafe at street level. There are also long term plans to open a second restaurant with a different concept on the 3rd floor next winter.

The new location is situated on Main Street opposite from Lorne Wine. Construction is now underway, and Brown hopes to open the 48-seat Elda 2.0 in early June.

Brown moved to Maine from Salt Lake City where he was the co-owner and chef of Forage (instagram). He was recognized as part of the 2011 class of Best New Chefs by Food & Wine. Additionally, Brown was six time Beard semifinalists in the Best Chef: Southwest from 2011 to 2016.

Elda was named one of the Best New Restaurants in America by Bill Addison at Eater in 2018, and was the feature of a New York Times article in that same year. It earned a 4 1/2 star review from the Maine Sunday Telegram restaurant critic Andrew Ross.

The opening of Elda and now its expanded vision and new location are part of the ongoing evolution of Biddeford’s restaurant and food culture. The city (pop. 21,000) is home to Rabelais Books, Palace Diner, Elda, Magnus on Water, Lorne Wine, Night Moves Bread, Banded Brewing, Round Turn Distilling, Sweet Cream Dairy, two coffee roasters/shops (Time and Tide, Elements) , Big Tree Hospitality’s commissary kitchen and a number of other restaurants and food producers. Keep your eye on Biddeford, there’s no doubt more to come.

Vegan Restaurant Under Construction in Biddeford

A new vegan restaurant called Robin’s Table (website, facebook, instagram) is under construction in Biddeford.

Robin’s Table with serve breakfast and lunch  as well as offer cooking classes to “teach the ‘hows and whys’ of vegan transitioning” and provide a meeting space for community events. Owner Robin Adams plans to serve familiar, homestyle dishes and baked goods that just happen to be vegan.

Adams previously owned the Adams Homestyle restaurant in Salem, NH. She’s a longtime adherent to a plant-centered diet.

Robin’s table is located at 420 Elm Street. Adams is hoping to open Robin’s Table sometime in February.

Off Peninsula Dining On the Rise

Food establishments are the focus in this Portland Phoenix article, Off-peninsula is Portland’s New Peninsula.

It’s Thursday night, the bar is packed, the dining room full, and customers are sipping local craft beers as regulars and people stopping in for the first time mix to enjoy a night out in Portland. 

Packed bars and restaurants have long been the norm on Portland’s peninsula. But this is Woodfords Corner.

Broken Arrow Under Development on Congress

A new restaurant called  Broken Arrow is under construction at 545 Congress Street in the storefront formerly occupied by the West End Deli. They will open serving dinner “5-7 times a week” and plan to eventually add a lunch service as well. Broken Arrow will seat 47 overall featuring banquet seating along the right wall and a 17-seat bar on the opposite side of the space. There are also plans for outdoor seating.

The draft menu (page 100) includes small and large plate such as brown bread with butter, oyster sliders, mussels and pot roast, as well as oysters, seafood towers, sandwiches and meat/cheese plates.

Broken Arrow is being launched by Holly and Lyle Aker. Lyle Aker had owned the Charlatan and the Three Aces in Chicago prior to moving to Maine.

The restaurant has been under development since 2017.

Verna’s All Day

The Waterville Sentinel has published an article about Verna’s All Day (websiteinstagram), the “casual, classic American chop house” that the owners of the Portland Hunt and Alpine Club have under construction in Waterville.

Verna’s All Day, a casual, classic American chop house, will offer steak and other entrees, as well as locally sourced food and classic cocktails in the restaurant part of the business. A range of prepared foods, convenience items, wine, local beer and other items will be featured in the small market and cafe-deli, where patrons will be encouraged to eat, socialize and study.

Big Babe’s Tavern

The Portland Phoenix has published an article about Big Babe’s Tavern, a music and food venue under construction in the Knightville neighborhood of South Portland.

But the vision goes beyond just a performance space. It’s a tavern in the traditional sense of the word, like the Irish and English pubs many touring musicians covet for the meals they offer and the sleeping arrangements upstairs. Big Babe’s has five themed rooms you can stay in on the second floor, with odes to Stax and Sun Records, Bonnie and Clyde’s Barrow Gang, even Stephen King.

Volks Opening Verna’s All Day in Waterville

Andrew and Briana Volk, owners of the Portland Hunt and Alpine Club, have leased space at 150 Main St in Waterville where they plan to open Verna’s All Day (website, instagram), a “casual, classic American chop house”.

The Volks are planing to bring ” locally-sourced food from farmers, classic cocktails and friendly service” to a town that’s undergoing a significant change as Colby College brings investment and attention to developing the downtown of the city where it’s been located for 207 years.

The restaurant is named for Briana’s grandmother. Verna’s is scheduled to open in late 2020.

Andrew Volk is a Colby alum from the class of 2005.