Cera Coming to Monument Square

A new cafe called Cera (website, instagram) is under construction in Monument Square. Cera will be offering a menu of “elevated sandwiches and salads” available 7-days a week from their ground floor space in 1 Monument Square.

The 22-seat 1,300 sq ft cafe will be open 11 am – 8 pm will have available corporate catering options to serve the needs of downtown businesses in addition to on site dining and to go meals for individual customers. During warmer months Cera plans to have a 24-seat patio in the square. Owners Steven Lacount, Jennifer Svendsen and Sean Doherty hope to open Cera in May.

Steven Lacount grew-up in the Waterville area and cites Big G’s in Winslow as one of his points of inspiration for Cera. He began is restaurant career working at Baldacci’s in Portland back in the late 1980s, and most recently worked with B.Good. Lacount has experience in helping restaurant be successful as they scale up, and hopes that Cera in Portland will be the first of what one day could be upwards of 10 locations.

Chef Sean Doherty will be leading the culinary team at Cera. Doherty has worked at Harding Smith’s Rooms restaurants. He also has strong interest in koji and fermentation, and was recently a presenter at the KojiCon online conference. At Cera, koji will be part of the process Dorherty uses to prepare their house-made pastrami.

The menu at Cera will include options like:

The Jaberwocky Sandwich
House roasted beef & our own pastrami, smoked bacon, Swiss cheese, BBQ, red onion, tomato
// choice: multigrain, rye, white

Peaches the Pig Sandwich
House Smoked ham, cheddar, peach-jalapeno chutney & lettuce
// choice: multigrain, rye, white

Super Mushroom Panini
Wood grilled mushrooms, garlic aioli, fontina cheese, spinach, roasted tomatoes
// Panini bread

Mercados Salad
Mixed greens with jicama, tri-colored grape tomatoes, fresh corn, black beans, avocado, cotija cheese, cucumber, red pepper & chili roasted pepitas
Dressing: Tomatillo vinaigrette

The owners are planning to get Cera certified as a B Corporation. In recognition of how central bee pollination is to the food system, Cera will focus some energy  on supporting bees and beekeeping, and are looking for organizations they will contribute to. Beekeepers with ideas should reach out to them with recommendations.

Butcher Burger in the Old Port

A new restaurant called Butcher Burger (facebook, instagram) is under development and slated to be located at 7 Union Street in the space formerly occupied by the Royale Lunch Bar. As the name suggests the menu includes a wide array of burgers, plus sides and a few non-burger sandwiches.

This will be the third Butcher Burger. Owner Kevin McAllister operates branches of Butcher Burger in Bethel and Old Orchard Beach.

BenReuben’s Knishery

Graeme and Caitlin Miller have leased space at 145 Ocean Street in South Portland where they plan to open BenReuben’s Knishery (website, instagram), a counter service knishery.

Knishes are a Jewish hand pie that use dough or pastry with a sweet or savory filling. At BenReuben’s the Millers plan to sell a the classic knish combinations as well explore creative ways to make use of the traditional form of this Eastern European snack food.

Open Sunday through Friday, at BenReuben’s the Millers plan to offer 5 – 7 varieties of knishes a day along with seasonally inspired side dishes, and all your favorite deli sides (sauerkraut, half sours and smears). The Millers also plan to offer Friday night dinner pick-ups. For drinks there will be coffee and tea plus “ice cold sodas in glass”.

It’s been the longtime dream of Graeme to open a knishery where he can share and celebrate his own  family’s and culture’s food traditions. The business name is an homage to Graeme’s father. The Millers have both been a part of the Big Tree Hospitality organization where Graeme worked previously as a chef and Caitlin works as the Director of Human Resources.

The Millers hope to open BenReuben’s sometime in April.

They’re also now taking pre-orders for a special knish delivery service on March 21st. Three different options are available:

  • Cinnamon Knish – cinnamon sugar and citrus icing (vegan upon request)
  • Everything Knish – cream cheese, scallion, potato
  • Hot Pastrami Knish with mustard and onions

The minimum order is a half dozen, and you can get two of each for a mixed sampler. Place your order by March 15th at 5 pm via direct message with BenReuben’s on instagram or by emailing BenReuben’s at hello@benreubensknishery.com for delivery to Portland, South Portland, Cape Elizabeth, Scarborough, Falmouth and Westbrook on March 21st. Payment is being processed by Venmo or cash upon delivery.

Luna and Salt Yard @ Canopy

Canopy Portland Waterfront (website, facebook, instagram), the 135-room hotel under construction at the corner of Commercial and Center Streets, is expected to open in May. When it does, Portland’s newest hotel will be home to a rooftop bar and ground floor all-day cafe and restaurant.

Located on the sixth floor overlooking Commercial Street, the 88-seat Luna (instagram) will feature both an indoor and outdoor seating areas with excellent views looking out over the Portland harbor and along Commercial Street (photo below, left) serving a mix of classic and contemporary craft cocktails.

The 53-seat street level restaurant and espresso bar Salt Yard (instagram) will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. The hotel is looking to put together a menu that has equal appeal for overnight guests and for locals and folks who work in the Old Port. Salt Yard will be serving coffee from Rwanda Bean. The name of the restaurant is a reference to salt-glazed earthenware that was made in E. Swasey Pottery building next door during the 19th Century.

Chef Matt Duley—formerly executive sous chef for Union at The Press Hotel—will be leading the kitchen staff at Canopy.

“We’re looking forward to creating menus that are fresh, fun and reflective of the culinary scene in Portland. At Luna, guests can expect some sophisticated and playful dishes that are meant to be shared when you’re having a good time with friends and family. Salt Yard will have something that speaks to everyone; I’m especially excited about the coffee program and breakfast. Lunch and dinner will be twists on favorites that everyone loves, and our open fired oven will play a big role in some signature dishes.”

Canopy is being developed by Fathom Companies which launched The Press Hotel in 2015. Might & Main is working Fathom on the branding for Luna and Salt Yard, and Ealain Studios is designing both restaurants.


Ruby’s West End

Matt and Corrinna Stum have subleased space from Bravo Maine in the former Aurora Provisions building in the West End where they plan to open a brunch restaurant called Ruby’s West End (website, instagram).

When we think of hospitality, we think of Grandma’s house. Grandma’s house was a place of joy, laughter, meals at the table, and breakfast goodness like Dutch Babies. It was a place of linen covered tables and coffee mugs from travels with accompanying stories. Served with selfless, humble, loving hospitality. It’s where so many of our memories were made.

Ruby’s is expected to launch in April and will operate Wednesday through Sunday 8 am – 4 pm. In addition to on site dining (see draft menu below) Ruby’s will be a pick-up location for the Ruby’s meal services as well as counter service coffee and pastries to go. The Stums will also be offering a Pay It Forward program for the Ruby’s Meals- anyone can donate funds which will be put towards meals for those who continue to face food insecurities.

The Stums moved to Portland from Cincinnati in 2020. Matt Stum is a member of the kitchen staff at Fore Street and Corinna Stum is the assistant general manager at Central Provisions. Matt began his career in Indianapolis where he was the executive chef at Stella. In Cincinnati he cooked for a pair of Beard-nominated chefs: Jonathan Brooks at Beholder and Jose Salazar at Mita’s. In Cincinnati Corinna Stum was part of the Boca Restaurant Group where she helped launch and manage restaurants in Ohio and Indiana, and subsequently joined the Cunningham Restaurant Group in Indianapolis.

Follow Ruby’s West End on instagram to stay in loop as the Stums work towards an opening day in the West End.

Mitr on Outer Congress

The founders of Mitr (facebookinstagram) have closed on the purchase of 1281 Congress Street where they plan to open their new Thai restaurant. Mitr is under development by some of the same team who were involved in Cheevitdee and its sister restaurant Mi Sen.

Ping Yang Thai food “typically means grilled or charbroiled. In Thailand, these techniques are very popular for street food and you can find them just about any corner of the street of every part of Thailand. Sometimes on skewers, sometime it’s a grill meat as a whole. Marinaded and grilled to perfection presenting you with rich aromas. Oftentimes, the meals will be enjoy with various sauces you can choose.”

Starting on March 14th, Mitr will be holding a weekly Sunday pop-up menu from the kitchen of Mi Sen. Visit the Mi Sen website or call (207) 747-4838 on the 14th to place your order.

2 More Food Trucks

Two more food trucks have announced plans to launch this year in Portland:

Paddy Wagon (instagram) plans to be located outside Free Range Fish and Lobster on Commercial Street. Owners Luke Benning and David McGuirk will be serving “traditional pub fare” such as fish and chips, battered sausages, and chip butties with a marbled egg. On Saint Patrick’s Day they will also be running a bangers and mash special. McGuirk is from Dublin Ireland, he and Benning have both worked together at the Westin, Saltwater Grille and the Woodlands Club.

Curbside Comfort (instagram) will be serving “plant-based vegan comfort food”. The menu is still under development but will include items such as “mac & cheese with various toppings” and vegan soft-serve ice cream. Owners Suzanne and Trent Grace hope to launch in June.

There’s been  a significant uptick in food trucks and carts planning to launch this year. With these two this brings the count of new/expading mobile food businesses up to 15. See our Under Construction page for a complete list of projects under development right now…and stay tuned for more announcements over the next couple months as more go public.

Lokahi Foods

A new business called Lokahi Foods (instagram) is under development. Lokahi will be a takeout business selling vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free desserts with flavors that will include: triple berry, strawberry chocolate, raspberry lemon, and chocolate hazelnut.

Owner Jelena Cesljarac plans to launch Lokahi in April. In the meantime follow Lokahi on instagram to stay in the loop on their development and get a look at their desserts.

Binga’s Stadium on Forest Ave

Binga’s Stadium (website, facebook, instagram, twitter) has leased 949 Forest Ave and will be converting the former Maelily & Ryleigh’s into an off-peninsula outpost of their location on Free Street, and will be closing their location on Free Street.

The furniture, equipment and fixtures at the Free Street location are for sale for $85,000 and the 17,000 sq ft space is for lease at $4/sq ft (NNN).

According to a report in the Press Herald, “The new Portland location of the Binga’s Wingas restaurant chain, which specializes in wings, will be more like its other neighborhood locations in Yarmouth, Windham and Old Orchard Beach, a press release said.”

Mitr Ping Yang Thai Kitchen

Earlier this week when Cheevitdee announced they would be permanently closing their Old Port restaurant the message ended on a hopeful note with, “The spirit of Cheevitdee lives on. Details in the near future.”

That “near future” has arrived and it’s a pleasure to share the news that some of the same team involved in Cheevitdee and its sister restaurant Mi Sen are launching a new Portland restaurant named Mitr (facebook, instagram).

When it opens later this year Mitr will serve a menu of Ping Yang style Thai food. According to Mitr, “Ping Yang style typically means grilled or charbroiled. In Thailand, these techniques are very popular for street food and you can find them just about any corner of the street of every part of Thailand. Sometimes on skewers, sometime it’s a grill meat as a whole. Marinaded and grilled to perfection presenting you with rich aromas. Oftentimes, the meals will be enjoy with various sauces you can choose.”

Follow Mitr on instagram to learn about the restaurant’s future location and on an upcoming pop-up.