Mama Le’s Opens Sunday

Huong Le will be launching a vegetarian and vegan Vietnamese takeout restaurant this Sunday called Mama Le’s.

Le is just back from a month long visit to Vietnam and will be folding recent dining experiences from her trip along with her decades of experience in the restaurant experience into the menu for the restaurant. The menu includes appetizers like vegetarian Cha Gio (egg rolls filled with mushrooms, carrot and taro root), a choice of vegan banh mi, and main dishes like Pho Chay (vegana pho) and Mi Xao Rau (lo mein with mixed vegetables).

Mama Le will operate out of the Banh Appetit shop at 171 Cumberland Ave, which is owned and operated by her daughter Snow Thi Le. Mama Le will be open Sunday 11 am – 3 pm, and Monday through Friday 5 – 8 pm.

The Maine Sunday Telegram published a very good feature article about Huong Le this past May. Le opened Portland’s first sit-down Vietnamese restaurant Huong’s Vietnamese Food in 2000. Below is a photo of Huong Le and her three daughters.

Blue Lobster Moving

Blue Lobster Urban Winery (facebookwebsiteinstagram) has announced plans to move their production facility and tasting room to 200 Anderson Street where they’ll be taking over the space that was formerly the Urban Farm Fermentory tasting room.

This will house a larger production space to handle our growth, an expanded tasting room, parking lot and outdoor space. With so much new room for activities, you can expect that we will be introducing new weekly events, an expanded wine cocktail program and other options we hope to announce soon!

Blue Lobster will continue to be open at 219 Anderson Street through March 22nd. Opening date for their new spot is still TBD.

UFF closed their tasting room on February 24th. Blue Lobster launched in 2017 and opened their tasting room in 2018. They have been located since then at 219 Anderson Street in the Rockingham Electric building.

Circumstance Coming to Swanville

A new restaurant called Circumstance (website, instagram) is under construction in Swanville. The chef/owner of Circumstance, Khristopher Hogg, formerly operated the excellent Belfast cider bar and restaurant Perennial.

The 24-seat Circumstance will be a seasonal restaurant open May through October, serving Friday and Saturday night dinners and Sunday brunch.

Dinner will be a 6-course chef’s tasting menu utilizing organically farmed and foraged local ingredients with dishes that are “both planned and somewhat improvised, a combination of accumulated and immediate responses to the landscape.”

For brunch, Hogg plans to put the menu’s “emphasis on seafood, oysters, and charcuterie” and a “delicious spread with lots of different, densely flavorful components that you can combine as you like.” The beverage program will feature regional natural wines and ciders (including the first vintage of their own Perennial cider).

The cuisine at Circumstance reflects the pursuit of craft, creativity, and an appreciation of place. We presume a standard of 100% locally sourced and organically grown ingredients and rely on whole-animal butchery, charcuterie, foraged ingredients, fermentation, smoking, and other forms of food preservation to accent our menu, along with careful combinations of ingredients in their original state.

Hogg hopes to open Circumstance in late May and is currently hiring for two positions: a Host/Server and a Kitchen Assistant.

For more information on the restaurant, and to sign-up for their mailing to be notified when reservations open, visit their website

Longfellow Hires Suliveras

The Twinflower Cafe and Five of Clubs bar are scheduled to open this spring along with the launch of the Longfellow Hotel (websitefacebookinstagram) which is under construction at 754 Congress Street.

Twinflower will be a daytime counter service cafe serving breakfast and lunch with a menu that leans into vegetarian, plant-based and gluten-free dishes. Five of Clubs will be the Longfellow’s lobby bar featuring classic cocktails, wines, local beers and NA drinks along with bar snacks like gougeres with chicken liver mousse, a selection of fresh seafood dishes, and larger dishes like a rabbit terrine with black truffles and pistachios.

Wilson Suliveras has been hired as the executive chef at Longfellow. He’s a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America (Hyde Park). His Maine resume includes working at White Barn Inn as the pastry chef and then executive sous chef, and more recently for Bowman Brown as the executive sous chef at Elda/Jackrabbit in Biddeford.

Here’s a look at the draft menus with Twinflower on the left and Five of Clubs on the right.

A Mr. Tuna Update

Mr. Tuna will be taking over the former Solo Cucina market (photo on left) in South Portland. They will be using the space as a production kitchen and headquarters for their mobile food and catering/private events business.

Separately, Mr. Tuna is making good progress on the buildout of their Middle Street restaurant (photo on right). They hope to open sometime in May. The new restaurant will seat 26 overall—a 14-seat bar and banquet table seating in the front windows. Sidewalk outdoor seating will be available as well.

The Mr. Tuna location in Monument Square will be closing in March in anticipation of the move to Middle Street and South Portland.

Solo Cucina was opened by the owners of Solo Italiano on March 25, 2020, and it closed in January 2024.

Douro from Prentice Hospitality

The Prentice Hospitality Group is working on a new restaurant called Douro (website, instagram) which they hope to open this summer this fall. It will be located on the front corner of the Sun Life Insurance building (110 Thames St) near Twelve.

Douro will be an all-day seafood restaurant with a Portuguese-inspired menu with a large selection of wines by the glass as well as classic cocktails and non-alcoholic drink options. Twelve executive chef Colin Wyatt and pastry chef Georgia Macon are in the early stages of developing a menu so stay tuned for further details.

The 3,300 sq ft restaurant is being designed in a collaboration between Prentice staff and Woodhull Commercial Studio.

The Prentice Hospitality Group also operates Twelve, Evo Kitchen + Bar, The Chebeague Island Inn and is working on relaunching The Good Table in Cape Elizabeth which they bought last year.

To get caught up on all the new restaurants, bars, breweries, bakeries and other hospitality businesses in development visit the Under Construction List.

Taj 2.0 in South Portland

Taj (website, facebook, instagram) has leased a space in the Clarks Pond Shopping Center where they’re building out a new larger restaurant.

The new spot will seat ~70 people (see floor plan below) with an 11-seat bar, a dedicated area for takeout pick-up, a bigger kitchen as well as a larger space for their lunch buffet. Owner Sai Guntaka has long had a vision for a Indian cocktail program at Taj which will be a new element of the menu at the new restaurant. Jim Baldi will be consulting on the development of the cocktail program.

Guntaka hopes to complete the renovations and kitchen build-out in to for Taj to move to its new location in June. Watch for murals by Mike Rich Design and lighting by Neon Dave to be part of the new interior.

To get caught up on all the new restaurants, bars, breweries, bakeries and other hospitality businesses in development visit the Under Construction List.

Low Key on Munjoy Hill

Jing Yan owners Britt Langford and husband Leo Zhang, have leased the former Blue Spoon space at 89 Congress Street where they plan to open a bar called Low Key. Langford shared that their goal is to build a casual and comfortable spot for the neighborhood.

They’re doing some light renovations which will add a bar along the Congress Street side of the space and update the aesthetics including wall murals painted by Langford  (her work also graces the walls at Jing Yan).

The ~25-seat Low Key will serve classic cocktails, natural wine, beer with a food menu of classic bar snacks and appetizers (including a lobster roll) as well as soft serve ice cream. They’ll be adding a ice cream takeout window facing Merrill Street. Zhang and Langford hope to open Low Key in late April or early May.

Jing Yan launched in November 2020. You can see some recent photography of the food on this instagram post from September.

To get caught up on all the new restaurants, bars, breweries, bakeries and other hospitality businesses in development visit the Under Construction List.

Smoked BBQ & Neighborhood Pub

Those of you keeping a lookout on the former Maelily Ryleigh’s will be happy to know that 951 Forest Ave is slated to open as  Smoked BBQ & Neighborhood Pub (website, facebook). Smoked BBQ is the new brand name for the restaurants in Windham and Portland that were formerly known as Binga’s Wingas.

The menu offered at the Smoked BBQ Windham location includes wings, tacos, burgers, salads, sandwiches, sliders and more. Owner Mike Harris hope to open the 60-seat Smoke BBQ in March.

Binga’s Stadium on Free Street closed in early 2021 and at the time the plan was for a new Portland Binga’s to open at 951 Forest Ave.

To get caught up on all the new restaurants, bars, breweries, bakeries and other hospitality businesses in development visit the Under Construction List.

Blake Orchard to Expand

Blake Orchard (websitefacebook, instagram) has announced plans to open two new locations in 2024. The first is scheduled to open this spring at 2 Station Ave in Brunswick, and the second will be in Dunstan Village in Scarborough and will open this fall.

Blake Orchard serves a menu of plant-based foods including smoothie drinks and bowls, raw cold-pressed juices, matcha and coffee. Alexandra Blake Messenger founded Blake Orchard in 2015. The business was initially located on Exchange Street before moving to 561 Forest Ave.