Man & Oak Bottle Club

Man & Oak (website, instagram), a Maine-based whiskey event and education company, has announced plans to open a private bottle club in Portland.

Man & Oak will feature 500 private bottle lockers of various sizes. Members will be able to store their special bottles of whiskey, other spirits and wine which they’ll be able to access and consume onsite. Man & Oak will also include a space for trainings, tastings, education programs and other related events. The new business will not be a bar or a bottle shop, but will sell glassware, etc that an enthusiast might want to enjoy their love of alcoholic beverages.

Man & Oak Bottle Club will operate as a private, members only, bottle club, here in Portland Maine.  Members will be offered bottle lockers of various sizes, with various rental plans, to store their favorite bottles.  They can access there lockers and drink, share, and socialize…Man & Oak Bottle Club will also service as a World Class Whiskey Education Center, offering signature whiskey programs; such as Bourbon Certification Courses, Whiskey Blending Workshops, Master Classes, Tastings, & Brand Education…Man & Oak will be a unique membership experience  to share amongst other enthusiast.   Members can bring a guest, access their own lockers, pour their own dram, mix their own cocktails, all while feeling at home, in an upscale lounge and private atmosphere.

Lockers will come in three sizes:

  • Small Lockers/ $45 per month. These lockers will hold 2 bottles
  • Large Lockers/ $65 per month. These lockers will hold 2-4 bottles
  • Master Lockers/$200 per month. These lockers will hold 10-12 bottles

Man an Oak is in the process of locating a space for his new business, and if all goes as hoped, plans to open the bottle club in time for summer.

they have launched a Kickstarter campaign with a goal of raising $75k towards acquiring and building out the space for the bottle club.

Mystical Retail Shop/Cafe

The Lady in the Moon (website, facebook, instagram) is under construction in Monument Square in the space formerly occupied by Others Cafe.

Lady in the Moon is a hybrid retail shop and cafe where you can peruse their unique home decorative items, crystals and CBD products, and then follow-up your retail therapy with a cup of tea, or a glass of wine or beer and food. The Lady in the Moon will also offer tarot readings, tasseography (tea readings) and in-depth horoscope services.

A mystic boutique, wine & tea room in downtown Portland, Maine. A spellbinding menagerie of beautiful objects including crystals, natural curiosities, unique and sophisticated gifts and home decor. We offer Astrology & Tarot readings by appointment.

Owner Jess Howell plans to open retail shop in early December. The indoor cafe will be launched later in 2021. Howell also anticipates having outdoor seating starting in the spring.

Sweet Sea Cookies

Leigh Kellis, the fonder of The Holy Donut, has leased the former Old Port Sandwich Shop space on Market Street. Starting next week she’ll be using the store for a 6-month pop-up shop for her new venture Sweet Sea Cookies (website, facebook, instagram).

The goal of Sweet Sea Cookies is to raise money for Less Plastic Portland which encourages businesses to reduce plastic use.

Cookies come in 3 flavors: oatmeal raisin, sea salt chocolate, and sunflower crunch. The cookies are produced by Baristas + Bites for Sweet Sea.

Dear Dairy Ice Cream

Dear Dairy (instagram) has leased 1,400 sq ft of space at 160 Presumscot Street where they plan to locate their new ice cream production space and studio.

Co-owners Alec Haviland and Glenn Dalrymple shared that “Dear Dairy started as an art project and we wanted it to keep feeling like one…So we’ve been balancing finding a space that didn’t cost so much that we would have to grow into something we didn’t want to be but that also allowed us the space we needed to spread our creative wings and fly.”

To that end, Dear Dairy is co-leasing the space with clothing designer Celia Haviland and artist Shawn Brewer. The hope is that the creative energy of these various disciplines under one roof will be inspiring for all, and will “permeate into the ice creams and cakes and the fabrics and clothing and prints that all make their way out the same doors.”

Once they’ve completed the build out and are back in operation, the expanded space will allow Dear Dairy room to “experiment and weave new flavors and house made inclusions into ice creams that we will continue packaging into 12 Oz containers to sell in grocery stores”. Dear Dairy will also plans to provide home delivery for their ice cream, as well as continue making custom flavors for restaurants.
Haviland and Dalrymple hope to get production back underway early next year.

Vena’s Moving

Vena’s Fizz House has announced plans to move to a new location. They’ll be wrapping up business at the corner of Silver and Fore Street in January. Owners Steve and Johanna Corman are in the process of locating a new larger location to expand both their retail shop and bar.

We will be closing our brick and mortar venue in January. After seven years in our quaint little corner in the heart of the Old Port we are bitter, sweetly letting go to move Vena’s on to a larger space to enable the next phase of our business to scale & grow in Portland.

We are excited to share our plans and will do so in the next couple of months – so stay tuned! In the meantime, please find all your beverage needs at our brimmed to the rim online shop. If you need a recipe, want to talk bitters or host a virtual mixology class, just give us a shout.

The current Vena’s space at 345 Fore Street is now for lease for $3,750/month.

Sok Sabai Food Truck

A new food truck called Sok Sabai (instagram) is under development and is expected to launch this coming spring. Sok Sabai will serve a menu of Cambodian, Laotian and Vietnamese food that will include beef and chicken skewers, egg rolls, noodle bowls and wings.

Owner Tina Nop is the first recipient of a Entrepreneurial Empowerment Scholarship from Fork Food Lab. As reported in the Portland Phoenix,

The scholarship will cover the cost of a six-month membership at Fork, as well as licensing costs, access to free legal, tax, and business planning, and additional marketing and brand support from local digital marketing agency iBec Creative.

The scholarship was made possible through a combination of private donations and a $2,500 sponsorship from Atlantic Federal Credit Union.

Of Cambodian heritage, Nop is also incorporating Laotian and Vietnamese food in the food truck menu “to honor the cultures of all the people who have helped her family.” The name of the food truck means “peace and happiness” in the Khmer language.

For more information about Nop, her family and about the Sok Sabai food truck read this in depth article in the Portland Phoenix.

Be sure to follow Sok Sabai on instagram to keep up to date on the development and launch of the food truck.

Update: Also check out this article from the American Journal.

New Breweries

The Press Herald has published a report on Maine breweries that are launching and expanding.

When beer industry veterans John Callinan and Rick McCormick decided to open a brewery together, they jokingly asked themselves, what could go wrong?

For starters, the usual things that always go wrong with a brewery opening – federal and state licensing taking longer than expected, construction delays, trouble with equipment. But during a pandemic, all of these issues are amplified and joined by a host of others. Still, they’re among several brave beer lovers who moved forward with plans to open new breweries this year despite it all.

Opening a Restaurant During a Pandemic

For today’s paper, the Maine Sunday Telegram has talked to owners and chefs that have taken on opening a restaurant during the pandemic.

These restaurateurs cite personality traits like flexibility, resilience, grit, optimism and a sense of humor as key to opening in these profoundly challenging times. They also credit reasonable landlords; strong relationships with purveyors; kind neighbors; and supportive staff, families, customers, and state and local officials. Did we mention hard work? Very, very hard work.

Crispy Gai Fried Chicken

Chefs Jordan Rubin (aka Mr. Tuna) and Cyle Reynolds are launching a new takeout restaurant called Crispy Gài Fried Chicken (instagram). The Crispy Gai menu (see draft below) will be focused on Thai cuisine included dishes influenced by culinary traditions from elsewhere is Southeast Asia. Gai is the Thai word for chicken.

Crispy Gai will be doing a takeout pop-up this coming Tuesday from High Roller Lobster. The menu for that is up and you can place your order online.

The full official launch of Crispy Gai’s takeout service will be sometime in December. The business will operate out of the Public Market House.

Fried Chicken – ไก่ทอด:

  • ไก่ทอด – 4 pc Bucket – 2 Drum, 2 Thigh, 1 Sauces
  • ไก่ทอด – 8 pc Bucket – 4 Drum, 4 Thigh, 2 Sauces

Wings – ปีกไก่

  • แกงเผ็ด – Gaeng Pèt – Red curry wings with kaffir lime leaf
  • เสฉวน – Sichuan – Numbing spice “Thai-Chi” inspired hot wings
  • ต้นฉบับ – Classic – Extra crispy wings cured in white pepper allium paste

Sandwiches – ขนมปัง

  • ต้นฉบับ – Classic – Extra crispy thigh with kewpie and iceberg on a sesame seed bun.
  • เผ็ด – Spicy – Extra crispy thigh with spicy karaage mayo and tsukemono pickled cucumber on a sesame seed bun.
  • ต้นฉบับ – Chicken Skin – Extra crispy skin with kewpie and iceberg on a sesame seed bun.
  • หนังไก่ – Spicy Chicken Skin – Extra crispy chicken skin with kewpie, iceberg, and fermented thai hot sauce on a sesame seed bun.

Sides – อาหารจานเริ่ม:

  • ข้าวมันไก่ – Chicken Rice – Hainanese style rice toasted in chicken fat and cooked in chicken stock
  • น้ําสต๊อกไก่ – Chicken Broth – chicken broth with cilantro, bitter melon, and white pepper
  • สลัดกะหล่ำปลี – Cabbage Salad – fried shallot, peanut, bird eye chili, red onion, and herbs.

Sauces – น้ำจิ้ม:

  • แจ่ว – Nahm Jim Jaew – Isaan dipping sauce, spicy, umami
  • น้ำจิ้มไก่ – Nahm Jim Kai –  Sweet and sour
  • น้ำจิ้มข้าวมันไก่ – Nahm Jim Khao Man Gai – Hainanese dipping sauce, umami, ginger

Big Tree Launching XO Burger & Wings

Big Tree Hospitality unveiled their latest restaurant concept today. XO Burger and Wings (website, instagram) will be a takeout and delivery restaurant serving a “menu full of crushable Americana.” XO Burgers and Wings is set to launch in early December, and will be operating out of the Hugo’s space in Portland and Eventide Fenway in Boston.

The menu include options like the Good Morning Burger (see above) with egg, red onion jam, hash brown and hot sauce, the XO Burger with XO sauce, banana peppers, and smoked cheddar, Chili Crisp Wings with house chili crisp and scallion, and a Grilled Caesar with grilled romaine, house mackerel caesar, mackerel “anchovies” and parmesan.

At a glance, XO Burger and Wings will offer a menu of delicious burgers, wings, salads and sides. Good food to fill your belly. But take a closer look and you’ll find we’ve applied the best of Big Tree Hospitality – high-end culinary technique, high-caliber creative chefs, and top of the line and house made ingredients – to our idea of the perfect neighborhood burger joint. Sure, you’ll find the familiar bacon and blue cheese burger, buffalo(ish) style wings, and fries, but you’ll also find creative takes on nearly every menu item. Our buffalo sauce is fermented with koji, made with fresh chilis and house-made yogurt. Our bacon is braised and made from humanely raised Winter Hill pork. We haven’t left Frank’s hot sauce off the menu, instead, we’ve dropped it into the fryer to create Red Hot Puffs…

Big Tree Hospitality is led by Andrew Taylor, Mike Wiley and Arlin Smith. In 2012 they bought Hugo’s from then owner Rob Evans and Nancy Pugh and in the same year launched Eventide. They went on to  create The Honey Paw in 2015 and open Eventide Fenway in 2017.

Photo credit: Zack Bowen Photography