Restaurant Design, Olfactory Portland

Today’s Maine Sunday Telegram includes an article on the changing olfactory nature of Portland, and

The smorgasbord of scents Lausier recounted hasn’t existed since the late 1990s, when the J.J. Nissen Bakery on Washington Avenue shut down. Jordan’s Meats, on India Street in the East End, stopped cooking up hot dogs and deli meats in 2005. The B&M Baked Beans plant, where Lausier worked for 42 years, will stop production by the end of this year, the owners announced in late August.

an article about contemporary restaurant design in our city.

The 1920s glam bar at the Time & Temperature will be the latest in a slew of restaurants and bar/lounges in the city that have been amping up their interior design game. The city’s image as a down-to-earth, no-fuss, mostly rustic farm-to-table culinary scene is changing. Some attribute it, at least in part, to the Restaurant City of the Year accolade Bon Appétit magazine bestowed in 2018.

Norimoto Bakery on Stevens Ave

Atsuko Fujimoto has leased 469 Stevens Ave where she plans to relocate Norimoto Bakery (website, instagram) from South Portland. The new location is in the building formerly occupied by Simply Scandinavian Foods in Deering Center which is also home to Quality Shop, Rwanda Bean Coffee, Pat’s Meat Market, The Honey Exchange, Elsmere, and other businesses.

Fujimoto is looking forward to having more space for her growing business and to creating a work space uniquely tuned to her way of working and that provides room for her and a growing team to work.

Fujimoto hopes to be fully moved in and open for business in time for the holidays. She’ll be closing down her current location later this month (September 18-19 are the last takeout days) and then opening the new bakery as soon as the build out is complete. The new Norimoto will have a takeout window inspired by old tabako-ya corner tobacco kiosks in Japan.

Gin & Luck Buys Little Giant

Ian and Kate Malin have announced the sale of Little Giant to the Gin & Luck hospitality group. Gin & Luck is best know for their Death & Co cocktail bars in New York City, Los Angeles and Denver.

“This is the latest example of how Portland has developed a national reputation in the food and beverage world,” said Ian Malin, who started Little Giant with his wife Kate and partners in 2017 .

“COVID was a blow to the entire restaurant industry,” Kate Malin said. “But we changed and adapted—first with paper plates and takeout out cocktails and then with an all-season outdoor space and a vaccine requirement. Our customers responded enthusiastically and 2021 has been our best year ever. We couldn’t be prouder of the team at Little Giant, and we’re very sad to say goodbye.”

Gin & Luck are still working out the details of the unique name and concept (not a Death & Co branded location) for their location in the West End so stay tuned for updates in the next few weeks. Gin & Luck COO and partner Alex P. Day moved to Portland 2 years ago.

The team’s attraction to Portland is a deeply personal one. Gin & Luck partner and COO, Alex Day, has been a resident of Portland for over two years. “Moving to Portland was transformative for me, both personally and professionally,” says Day. “I’ve found myself not only inspired by the beauty of Maine and all it has to offer, but also by a F&B community that has been incredibly welcoming every step of the way. They’ve blown me away by their deep love of hospitality, culinary creativity and enlightened business practices, and I’m thrilled by the chance to contribute in a small way – to create an establishment unique to Portland and a new F&B expression for our company, and above all, to play a meaningful part in what makes this city such an amazing place to live and visit.” The Gin & Luck team plans to release more information about their vision and timeline in the coming weeks.

“The fact that Gin & Luck chose Little Giant and Portland for their next project says a lot about the food scene in our city,” Ian Malin said. “We are excited to see this commitment from such a well-known and well-respected brand.”

A Charcuterie Food Truck

A new food truck called The Portland Board (website, facebook, instagram) is set to launch in September by owner Graham Young. The Portland Board will be operating out of a vintage baby blue 1979 Volkswagon bus.

Young plans to offer both medium and larger sized boards for groups as well as smaller “bites” of pairs of chacuterie options. He also hopes to collaborate with local business with one-off menus that expand beyond The Portland Board’s focus on chacuterie.

Young started working in restaurants when he was 11-years-old and “quickly developed a love for the fast pace and hard work which always stayed with me”. He’s worked in the cannabis industry for the last decade in Maine and California. Since he’s moved back to Maine has been inspired by the food community here and the food truck is a way of connecting with it.

Food Trucks: Eat It & Beet It, Clam Bar, Knitting Nook

The new food trucks keep coming. Here’s some information on three more:

The Clam Bar (instagram) is getting ready to open. The business is located at 199 West Commercial St. They will initially be opening with a food truck kitchen while the brick and mortar restaurant is still under development. September 1st is the target open date.

The Knitting Nook (instagram) in South Portland has expanded on the existing cafe offering with a food truck serving breakfast on Saturdays and Sundays.

A new food truck called Eat It & Beet It (instagram) is under development. Founder Lea Andrukaitis Verrill plans to serve a menu of gourmet beef and vegan/vegetarian burgers which will feature a beet burger she’s developed. Verrill hopes to open in late 2021 or early 2022. Verrill has worked the last few years as a pastry chef at Botto’s Bakery.

Plate The State

A new Maine cooking show called Plate the State (website, facebook, instagram) is currently taping their first set of episodes which are expected to air Sundays on News Center Maine at 11 am starting on October 3rd.

The show is co-hosted by former Union chef Josh Berry and Maggie Knowles who will be “sharing the stories of where our food comes from and how to enjoy it at home”.

The season premiere opens with a fly fishing adventure in Rangeley then how to make a trout dinner over a campfire at Cathedral Pines Campground. Throughout the 11-episode season, viewers will visit The Honey exchange, Slack Tide Sea Salt, The Apple Farm, and Mousam Valley Mushrooms amongst many others.

Belleville on Forest Ave

Belleville (website, instagram) has leased this building at 767 Forest Ave where they plan to build out a production bakery. The new bakery will nearly quadruple the size of their production space. A rotating rack oven and proofing equipment are on order and expected to arrive later this year. Belleville hopes to be back in full swing by the holidays and will keep up their occasional pop-up series in the meantime.

The new bakery will allow them to produce more baked goods more efficiently to meet the ever growing demand for their croissants, pizza and other foods.

The Munjoy Hill location will continue to be the retail shop for Belleville. However sometime in late 2022 or 2023 they may open a second retail location at the bakery on Forest Ave.

Bravo & Ruby’s

Bravo Maine (websitefacebookinstagram) is relocating to 559 Brighton Ave (the original Rosemont Market building) where they’ll be serving dinner Tuesday and Wednesday evenings (starting September 15th) in addition to holding their ongoing cooking class series.

We are happy to announce we are moving to the former Rosemont Market annex at 559 Brighton Avenue in early September. This new location will allow us to offer a better experience for our cooking classes with a beautiful bigger kitchen and a nice workshop area. We will also offer in our new location FRENCH DINING, every Tuesday and Wednesday night. The entire menu is house-made from the baguettes to the Chocolate Bomb Fondue. Originally from France it was important for me to share my enthusiasm and love regarding for French food.

Bravo Maine had been co-located with Ruby’s West End (websiteinstagram) at 64 Pine Street. Ruby’s itself has their own expansion news. They’ve started serving dinner Thursday through Sunday. Ruby’s is up for a liquor license at Monday night’s City Council meeting. You can take a look at their dinner menu on their website.

Mobile Food: Moonday, Quanto Basta, Witty Monkey, Maxim’s

2021 has seen a riot of new mobile food and drink operations. Here are a four more that have recently surfaced or recently launched:

Moonday (instagram) is a mobile espresso cart that popped-up for the first time this past weekend. Owner David Kessel is serving cold brew and espresso-based drinks made with Speckled Ax coffee as well as a house-made chai.

The Witty Monkey (instagram) Monkey launched in July. Owner Sokly Soeuy is serving up dishes from Cambodian, Thai, Vietnamese and Laotian cuisines.

Quanto Basta (websiteinstagram) is holding their first pop-up on Saturday August 21st. Owner Elizabeth English plans to serve a rotating menu of four to five Neapolitan pizzas as well as Italian pastries and provisions. [more info]

Maxim’s Desserts (instagram) has relocated to Portland from Kennebunkport. Owner Max LeBlanc serves pie cones which are a “waffle cone with crushed pie filling and crust coating the inside, ice cream in the middle, and more pie sprinkled on top, all made to order”. Maxim’s currently expects to be operating in Portland through the end of August.

Portland’s mobile food scene continues to rapidly expand. Stay tuned for more updates on new food trucks, carts and pop-ups. For the best information on which carts and trucks are open on any given day check out the Food Truckalico app.