Joseph Rank recently took over ownership of Big Sky Bread Company (website, facebook, instagram). Co-founder and owner Martha Elkus posted a statement that in part reads,
After 29 wonderful years at the bakery, the time has come for me to move on. In January 2023, after searching for the right person, I sold the bakery to a great guy named Joe Rank. He is a neighbor and long-time customer who is committed to our signature products and all the things that make Big Sky a very special place. At the same time, he has the energy, skills, and vision to make sure Big Sky stays strong for the next 30 years. Joe and his wife Jean live in Deering Center and have 3 sons who attend Portland schools. They have been customers of Big Sky for many years, their kids have played at our dough table, and they understand why Big Sky is so important to this community. I feel confident that the bakery is in good hands.
Martha Elkus and and her late husband Bill Harris founded the Portland Big Sky Bread in 1994. It’s located in the former Engine 8 Firehouse in Woodfords Corner at 536 Deering Ave.
Co-owners Caleb Landry, Adam Sousa, and Matt Brown are launching a new distillery called the Portland Distilling Company (instagram). The distillery is under construction at 135 Walton Street on back side of the same building as the Speckled Ax roastery and coffee shop.
They aim to eventually have a full portfolio of spirits including whisky, bourbon, rum, vodka and various styles of gin. Their first product—which they hope to launch this fall—will be Goldie’s Cocktail Gin produced in a London dry style. PDC’s production still has a 300-gallon capacity which will enable the distillery to produce 10,000 gallons of spirits a year.
Landry and Sousa are the creative directors at Blyth and Burrows and Brown work at Ameriprise Financial. From their bartending background Sousa and Landry have developed an understanding of where there’s opportunity to bring new products to life that meet industry needs and wants which will guide the new product development process at PDC.
George and Jossie Papanikolaou have leased the former Seasons Grille space at 155 Riverside Street where they plan to open a new bar and grill called Volcano (website, facebook, instagram, twitter).
The menu is still under development but is expected to include standards like burgers and fried chicken as well as some Greek dishes. Volcano will have a full bar and will host live music. Renovations are underway and no opening day has been set.
The Papanikolaou family also own Stacks Pancake Company which the opened in July 2021 and previously operated restaurants in New York and New Jersey.
Bite Into Maine (website, facebook, twitter, instagram) continues to make progress on their new Portland location. The 3,400 sq ft they leased in late 2021 is being built out to be a cafe and commissary kitchen for their food trucks at Fort Williams at at Allagash.
Located at 31 Diamond Street in East Bayside, the new Bite Into Maine will have a 25-seat dining room, outdoor seating and offer takeout.
A new restaurant call Wander at LongWoods (instagram) is under construction in the town of Cumberland. The overall venture—which will include an on-site farm—is a collaboration between chefs Mike Allen and Rich Maggi, farmers Molly and Jordan McDuffie, and general manager Joe Atwood. The team hope to launch Wander by early June.
The farm will be an integral part of Wander at LongWoods providing food for the restaurant, an experiential component to the property and a farm store selling Longwoods products as well as those from other farms and food producers. The McDuffies plan to operate a small scale farm employing regenerative farming techniques raising pigs, chickens and cows in addition to the market garden.
Chefs Allen and Maggi will draw as many of the menu ingredients from the LongWoods farm as well as from other nearby farms to serve a seasonal elevated farm-to-table menu. While emphasizing local sourcing they expect to still utilize ingredients (e.g. citrus) that aren’t grown in Maine. The beverage program will feature wine, 6-8 taps of local beer, and cocktails produced in collaboration with Portland area distilleries. In addition to a dining room that will seat 70+, Wander will also have a terrace with outdoor seating, and a communal area extending out into the farm field with picnic tables, fire pits, Adirondack chairs.
Wander at LongWoods will be located at the LongWoods Preserve (instagram) which is being developed as a multi-use (restaurant, recreation, farm, etc) resource for the area. The 55 acre preserve is in land conservation through a collaboration between the Chebeague & Cumberland Land Trust and the Maine Farmland Trust. The project was initiated and envisioned by land owner by Alex Timpson who spearheaded the conservation efforts on the property.
The building (shown above) that will house Wander was designed by Paul Designs Project. LongWoods Preserve is located at 76 Longwoods Road in Cumberland Center.
Chef Bijan Eslami is planning to launch a food truck called BiziBuns (instagram) in Brunswick this spring.
Eslami will be serving a menu of buns and rice bowls. Options will include dishes like a lamb bun with sumac, onions and tahini, and rice bowls such as Persian green curry (ghorme sabzi) and a sour chicken with barberries and pickled sour grapes.
Eslami is currently the chef at Jing Yan where his cooking helped earn the restaurant 4 stars from Maine Sunday Telegram restaurant critic Andrew Ross. Watch the Jing Yan instagram account for word of a BiziBuns pop-up which will take place in February.
Eslami plans to locate BiziBuns on the Main Street Mall in Brunswick and be open through dinner hours closing at 10 pm.
Owners Matt and Corrinna Stum plan to move their West End restaurant Ruby’s (website, instagram) to 642 Congress Street to the storefront that was formerly occupied by Ada’s. The last service at the Pine Street Ruby’s West End will be on January 29th.
The Stums have put together a team that includes chef Garret LeClair, baker Nee-Nah Hall, barista Aly Shannon and bartender Ethan Cory. Ruby’s will be serving brunch, lunch and dinner.
The menu for the 40-seat restaurant is still under development with the working theme of “Maine roots, French inspired”. Some classic French dishes like cassoulet, duck confit, coq au vin, and loup du mer are expected to be part of the dinner menu as well as vegan and vegetarian options. Lunch and brunch menus will expand with options for soup, salads and sandwiches.
The team hope to open the new Ruby’s in February. They plan to initially be open Wednesday through Sunday, 9 am – 9 pm.
The Stum’s opened Ruby’s West End in April 2021 at 64 Pine Street, and recently launched a new restaurant called Back River Bistro in Wiscasset.
Portland Pottery Cafe on Washington Ave will be reopening under new ownership as the Bake Maine (instagram) Pottery Cafe. Owners Doug Perry and Kristen Perry have been doing some light renovations and hope to reopen as soon as this weekend.
The menu (see below) includes a variety of sandwiches, wraps, toasts and baked goods for breakfast—yes, the raspberry scones will continue to be available—and soups and sandwiches for lunch.
The Perry’s grew up in Wells, Maine. Before taking over the Pottery Cafe they operated the 1690 House Bakeshop and Cafe and subsequently A Cafe and Bakery, both of which are in Wells. Kristen Perry had previously worked at both Flour Bakery and the Tatte Bakery in the Boston area.
Baked Maine will be open seven days a week, 8 am – 3 pm.
Portland Old Port reports that The Grill Room will be expanding into the adjacent storefront vacated by Swiss Time.
Portland chef and restaurateur Harding Lee Smith, and his partner and wife Sarah Smith will be undertaking a new expansion project called The Side Bar.
A new 36-seat restaurant called Bistro Leluco (website, instagram) is under development at 347 Cottage Road in the building that was formerly the home of Enio’s. Leluco is scheduled to open this Friday January 13th.
Bistro Leluco will be serving Mediterranean-inspired dishes utilizing seasonal and local ingredients. There will be a full bar program including craft cocktails, wine and local beers. Some example of dishes from the menu include Bluefin Crudo with burnt orange, Sicilian olive oil, Calabrian chili, Squash Toast with farmers cheese boursin, maple, aleppo, pepitas, Octopus with paella rice, preserved pepper, saffron aioli, and Parisienne Gnocchi with maitake mushrooms, ripe cheese, mustard greens
Leluco is being launched by owners Michele Trizzino and Antonio Rappazzo with chef William Durst. Rappazzo and Trizzino both have a background in the hospitality industry. Their move to Portland from NYC has opened the door to act on a long-term dream to open a restaurant of their own. Durst moved to Portland from Vermont where he’s worked at Hen of the Woods, and was the sous chef at Prohibition Pig. His career has also taken him to the west coast where he worked in Portland, Oregon.
The name of the restaurant is inspired by the names of Trizzino and Rappazzo’s three children Leo, Lucca and Coco.
Bistro Leluco will begin taking reservations on Resy.com later today. In the meantime call (207) 536-1690 to reserve a table.