Vena’s to Forego Congress Street

Vena’s Fizz House (websitefacebookinstagram) has decided not to proceed with opening their bar and retail shop. They had been working since late 2021 to renovate the church at 867 Congress Street in Parkside. Their announcement on instagram reads, in part:

We have always had the intention of eventually returning and reopening a physical venue and went about purchasing a property on Congress St. in Portland. However, we have come to realize that much has evolved since we last closed our doors on Fore Street in Portland. The hospitality industry itself has undergone significant changes, and we have also undergone our own transformation. Our priorities, both personally and professionally, have been reshaped by our current focus. The transition to an ecommerce business has provided us with the opportunity to achieve a healthier work-life balance. Just as the ingredients in a beverage are adjusted to cater to individual preferences, the adjustments we have made to our business model have helped clarify our priorities.

Vuong Joining Tao

The Press Herald reports that Frying Dutchman chef/owner Leon Vuong will be closing down his business to fully devote his time in a new direction. Vuong will be working with Cara Stadler as a head chef and a business partner in the relaunch of Stadler’s Brunswick restaurant Tao Yuan.

Vuong, who has fine-dining cooking experience including at the Barbara Lynch restaurant Menton in Boston, said he’ll retire most of his Frying Dutchman dishes along with the venue itself. At Tao Yuan, Vuong said he expects they’ll keep some of the signature dishes from the pre-pandemic restaurant, but about 50 percent of the small plates and tasting menu dishes will be new, like a bahn mi savory eclair course he’s been fine-tuning.

Cong Tu Bot Crowdfunding for Lido’s 2

The owners of Cong Tu Bot have launched a $75k crowdfunding campaign to help to assist with the launch of their new restaurant Lido’s 2. In the few days since it kicked-off the campaign has raised $7,033 towards their goal. Contributes to the campaign will receive 120% of that amount as a credit to be used at Lido’s 2 or Cong Tu Bot. The credits don’t expire and will vest over a period of six months.

As we reported back in May, Lido’s 2 will be located on Market Street and will likely open later this year. The campaign site shares some additional plans for Lido’s,

While CTB is small and scrappy, this new location in the Old Port dreams to be: moody, fun, a family-style affair with the same focus on pushing our own limits of what Asian American food can be, tight cocktails, and how to support our communities.

Visit the CTB/Lido’s page on Nu Market—a restaurant specific crowdfunding site–to contribute to the campaign.

Update: Since this article was published the prospective name of this business has been changed to Oun Lido’s.

Update on Remake of OPT

The Portland Phoenix has published an update on the plans to open a new restaurant in the space formerly occupied by the Old Port Tavern.

Wills Dowd, the owner of the Woodfords Corner restaurant Bird & Co., hopes to have the “totally new concept” in the Old Port space open by April 2024.

Dowd, 34, who grew up in the Rosemont neighborhood, said he’s just a few weeks away from finalizing the name and concept after taking over the lease at 11 Moulton Street, but is “99 percent” decided on what the new restaurant will have to offer.

Maine Food & Dining News

Here are some food and dining highlights from around the state:

  • The Lincoln County News reports that Jodie Roquemore, owner of Jodie’s Cafe and Bakery, has purchased the former Sarah’s Cafe in Wiscasset where she plans to open a new restaurant later this summer.
  • The Penbay Pilot includes an article about the Maine Produce Alliance (website, instagram) which is a network of ~50 Maine farmers that sells to restaurants accounts, natural food stores, farmer’s markets and other wholesale customers.
  • And a little further afield Boda co-owner Nattasak ‘Bob’ Wongsaichua is opening an Isaan Thai restaurant and bar in Portsmouth called Five 81 NE (website, instagram). Wongsaichua plans to open Five 81 NE later this month.

Bayside Bowl Expanding to SoPo

Bayside Bowl (website, facebook, instagram) is in the process of buying the former Sea Dog bowling alley in South Portland where they plan to open Broadway Bowl (instagram) this fall.

The new outpost will be modeled after the original Bayside Bowl with some overlap in food and drink menus and a similar experience at the smaller South Portland location. The back side of the building is adjacent to the cycling/pedestrian trail and features a 52-seat enclosed deck with a view of Casco Bay.

Broadway Bowl will be a 10-lane bowling alley. Owner Charlie Mitchell plans to take the same approach to equipment and maintenance and there will be opportunities for  tournament and league play.

Sea Dog Brewing closed their Broadway bowling alley in April of 2023. Bayside Bowl launched their operation on Alder Street in Portland on June 1, 2010.

To get caught up on all the new restaurants under development visit our Under Construction List.

Restaurant Real Estate: July 2023

Welcome to the July 2023 edition of the Portland Food Map restaurant real estate listings sponsored by The Boulos Company—a commercial real estate brokerage that has helped Maine’s restauranteurs buy and lease restaurant spaces since 1975.

This resource gathers in one convenient place the spaces available in Portland (and a few in the surrounding area) that could be potential sites for restaurants and food producers and retailers to locate their next business. Finding the right spot is one of the crucial early challenges in launching a new business and hopefully this resource will make that step just a little bit easier.

West End

2 Pine St – Part of the former Treasure Chest space in Longfellow Square is for lease. Enterprise Records has moved into the right-hand portion with the remainder (adjacent to Weekend Vintage) still available. Call (207) 773-7100 for more details.

235 Vaughan St – the 700 sq ft space most recently occupied by Other Side Deli and which had been the longtime home of Vaughan Street Variety is for lease. Call (207) 650-0846 for more information.

Arts District

543 Congress St – the 1,276 sq ft space formerly occupied by Higher Concepts is for lease for $18/sq ft (MG). It’s located along the same stretch of road that’s home to Nosh, Regards, Broken Arrow and Mister Bagel.

549 Congress St – the 1,397 sq ft space formerly occupied by the Portland Downtown offices is available to lease for $2,500/month (NNN).

554 Congress St – 1,621 sq ft former Dunkin’ Donuts space with hood for $2,301/month (NNN).

44 Oak St – 4,347 sq ft of space in a beautiful historic building at the corner of Oak and Free Streets is available for $15.50/sq ft (NNN).


73 Cove St – a 5,519 sq ft industrial space in East Bayside is listed for $35/sq ft; it’s expected to become available in 2024.

360 Cumberland Ave – an 1,100 sq ft space near Schulte & Herr is available for $22/sq ft (NNN).

46 Elm St – this 385 sq ft corner space in the parking garage at the corner of Elm Street and Cumberland Ave. It’s available for $500/month (MG).

52 Hanover St – On the first floor of a new building will be 1,500 – 4,500 sq ft retail space available for $30/sq ft (NNN).

65 Hanover St – 1,800 sq ft of space is available for $20/sq ft (NNN).

178 Kennebec St – 2,644 sq ft of space are available in a newly constructed Bayside building for $25/sq ft (NNN).

34 Portland St – the 3,400 sq ft building that was formerly occupied by Candy’s is for sale for $599,000.

Old Port

1 Canal Plaza – 4,284 – 14,412 sq ft of ground floor retail space will be available as part of upcoming renovations; $30/sq ft (NNN).

1 Commercial St – the original location of Benkay at the corner of Commercial and India Streets is undergoing renovations. The 900-2,950 sq ft is for lease at $35/sq ft (NNN).

185 Commercial St – a new building under construction will include 2,229 sq ft of ground floor retail space that will be available in 2024; $55/sq ft (NNN).

215 Commercial St – 2,189 sq ft of retail space near the corner of Commercial and Dana Streets is available for $65/sq ft (MG).

327 Commercial St – the former Tiqa restaurant is for lease—7,981 sq ft @ $30/sq ft (NNN)—or for sale for $3,500,000.

383 Commercial St – 1,193 – 4,805 square feet of space in a newly constructed building on Commercial Street is available for $28/sq ft (NNN).

441 Congress St – the 2,400 sq ft former Guitar Grave retail space is available for $15/sq ft (MG).

201 Federal St – 2 retail spaces will be available in the new 18-story building under construction at the corner of Temple and Federal Streets. The 527 and 2,300 sq ft spaces are listed at $40/sq ft (MG).

416 Fore St – the former Mark’s Place is available; 1,100 sq ft for $5,500 (NNN).

446 Fore St – a 1,600 sq ft space on the corner of Fore and Union Streets is available for $30-40/sq ft (MG).

470 Fore St – the longtime home of Paciarino is now available. The 2,000 sq ft storefront on the corner of Fore and Cross Streets is for lease at $32.50/sq ft (NNN).

40 Free St – the new building constructed by JB Brown has four storefronts ranging in size from 1,473 to 3,024 sq ft for $27.50/sq ft (NNN).

55 Market St – this 3,700 sq ft space on Market Street was formerly occupied by the Big Easy. It’s available for $18/sq ft (NNN).

121 Middle St – a 2,482 sq ft retail spot is available for $45/sq ft (MG).

157 Middle St – 1,091 – 5,155 sq ft of retail space is available for $27 – 29.95/sq ft (MG).

1 Monument Square – 1,500 sq ft of first floor space adjacent to Cera is available for $3,125/month (MG).

28 Monument Square – two spaces on the 2nd floor (143 sq ft with a base rent of $1,185 + utilities and CAM charges—call  413-636-9688 for details), and a spot with it’s own 8 foot hood for $850/month + utilities and CAM charges.

25 Pearl St – 1,689 sq ft former Subway space available for $30/sq ft (MG).

66 Pearl St – 5,796 sq ft of space—the former Bull Moose retail shop—is available for $15.75/sq ft (MG).

144 State St – 2 retail spaces will be available in the development in the former Mercy Hospital building on State Street. The 1100 and 2,566 spaces are available for $26/sq ft (MG).

15 Temple St – the 2,086 sq ft space formerly occupied by Bubble Maineia is available for $26/sq ft (MG).

110 Thames St – two spots (2,700 and 3,200 sq ft) are now available in the newly constructed building in the Portland Foreside development. Both are listed at $35/sq ft (NNN).

53 Wharf St –a 1,600 sq ft space on the corner of Wharf and Union Streets is available for $30-40/sq ft (MG).

India Street

144 Fore St – the former VA building is near the Portland Foreside development and adjacent to several new office buildings off Thames Street. It has 1,560 – 10,620 sq ft of space available for $24-29/sq ft (NNN).

Forest Ave

369 Forest Ave – a 5,040 sq ft building on Forest Ave is available for $14.50/sq ft (MG).

503 – 509 Forest Ave – the exterior of this building is slated to be restored to its historic design. It has 4,500 – 9,500 sq ft of space available for $10/sq ft (NNN).

701 Forest Ave – 3,147 – 6,405 with parking available for $18/sq ft (NNN).

1871 Forest Ave – the former Tortilla Flat building is for sale for $3,100,000.

Deering Center

476 Stevens Ave – the Elsmere BBQ building in Deering Center is for sale for $1,450,000; the sale includes all FF&E inventory. It is also available to lease, 3,000 – 4,091 sq ft for $25 – 30/sq ft (NNN).

Elsewhere in Portland

1091 Congress St – the former Denny’s building and parking lot are available to lease; 4,901 sq ft at $25.50/sq ft (NNN).

43 York St – this 1,800 sq ft space is tucked around the corner from Yosaku on York Street. It’s available for $3,000/month (MG).

Northgate Shopping Center – 2,200 to 5,700 sq ft of space is available.

Westgate Shopping Center – three spaces are for lease at $18-40/sq ft (NNN).

Other Spaces – some vacated restaurant spaces haven’t yet been formerly listed for by the owner. Check the closing announcements for the latest information.

Outside of Portland

Bath – the former  home of Salt Pine Social is available. The 3,535 sq ft building is available for $16/sq ft (NNN).

18 Ocean St, South Portland – the 4,351 sq ft former Snow Squall is for lease for $12/sq ft (NNN).

372 Cottage Rd, South Portland – the former Omi’s Coffee Shop is available for lease. Call Jennifer Davies at (207) 650-9944 for more information.


MG – Modified Gross which indicates that the operating expenses (taxes, insurance, maintenance, etc.) for the property are included in the lease rate. The tenant would pay its own utilities, which sometimes includes heat.

NNN – Triple Net which indicates that operating expenses are not included in the lease rate, and the tenant will pay them separately. They are often referred to as CAM (Common Area Maintenance) charges and taxes, which are expressed as $/sf. The tenant is also responsible for utilities.

Gross – Gross indicates all expenses including utilities are included in the lease rate. The tenant would be responsible for phone and internet access, as well as interior janitorial.

Maine Food & Dining News

Here are some food and dining highlights from around the state:

  • The Lincoln County News reports that Sarah’s Cafe in Wiscassett served their last meal on last Friday . Sarah’s was launched by owner Sarah Heald in 1987.
  • The Danish at Jackrabbit got a shoutout in the July edition of Food & Wine. The recognition came via fellow Biddeford baker Kelsey Mari Morgan who wrote, “It’s tough to forget a beautifully made pastry that celebrates seasonal fruit. I’m a sucker for summer berries, and Jakrabbit’s strawberry Danish, filled with locally grown strawberries, is a special kind of treasure.”
  • The Bangor Daily News shared a report on two Midcoast restaurants featuring French cuisine: Bistro La Cave (website, instagram) which recently opened in Camden and Alsace (instagram) which is expected to open later this summer in Union.
  • Mainebiz reports that Waterville-based Sunrise Bagel will be  opening a second location in Augusta.

New Restaurant in OPT Space

Wills Dowd and Jared Dinsmore, the owners of Bird & Co, have leased the former Old Port Tavern space where they plan to open a new restaurant. The menu and concept are still to be determined.

Dinsmore and Dowd have begun a complete renovation of the 5,000+ sq ft space. They don’t expect to launch the new restaurant until spring 2024.

Bird & Co. launched March 12, 2019. It’s located at 539 Deering Ave in Woodfords Corner. The Old Port Tavern closed on New Year’s Eve 2022 after 50 years in business.

Interview with Tom Ruff

Mainebiz has published an interview with Tom Ruff, the founder of Orange Bike Brewing.

Entrepreneur and cycling enthusiast Tom Ruff shifted gears from medical recruiting to gluten-free brewing, with plans to launch Orange Bike Brewing in Portland later this year. With construction still in progress at 31 Diamond St. in Portland, he gave Mainebiz the lowdown.

For more information on Orange Bike Brewing see this report on the brewery.