Bravo Leasing Former Aurora Provisions

Bravo Maine (website, facebook, instagram) has leased the former Aurora Provision at 64 Pine Street where they’ll be restarting their series of cooking classes in February.

In addition to holding classes at 64 Pine Street, starting in mid-February Bravo Maine plans on opening as a cafe serving coffee, French pastry and lunch, daily 11 – 3.

They also plan to use 64 Pine Street for kids cooking and baking classes, and for pop-up dinners.

Taco Trio Expanding to Saco

The Saco Bay News reports that Taco Trio is opening a second location in Saco.

The new restaurant is scheduled to open in March at 27 Elm St., the former location of Skipper’s Seafood and Rotisserie. The space was been vacant since early fall of 2019, when Chuck and Karen Forzely decided to retire and close the seafood restaurant after 21 years.

Rasmussen and Pena said they had looked for years for a big enough location in the Saco and Biddeford area, and 27 Elm St. was an ideal spot.

Little Brother Launching in February

A new business called Little Brother Chinese Food (instagram) is under development. Little Brother will sell a line of Chinese dumplings from their home base at Fork Food Lab.  Owners Richard Lee and Claire Guyer plan to launch Little Brother on February 5th a week a head of Chinese New Year.

Once their website is up you’ll be able to order three different styles of frozen dumplings for final preparation at home: a pork and napa cabbage dumpling made with ginger, scallion and sesame oil which Lee learned how to make from his grandmother and aunt, a vegan dumpling made with soy protein, napa cabbage and roasted mushrooms, and each week there will be third rotating option on the menu. In  recognition of the Year of the Ox which start on the lunar new year, Lee and Guyer are making a spicy beef dumpling made with their house chili oil, Szechuan peppercorn and chili flakes.

Guyer and Lee moved to Portland at the end of March from Chicago. Guyer grew-up in Maine in Thomaston and prior to moving to Illinois worked in Portland as a baker for Hilltop Coffee and for Borealis Breads, and was a server at Silly’s. In Chicago Lee got his start in the kitchen working for chef Joe Flamm at Spiaggia and for a time worked at Parachute.

In Chicago the couple ran the Oxheart Collective supper club as a way to experiment with food and engage with love of hospitality.

In time Little Brother may evolve from its current takeout-only model into a restaurant.

Outdoor Dining Extended to May 10th

News Center Maine reports that the City Council has extended the outdoor dining provisions through the winter to May 10th.

The Portland City Council voted unanimously Monday night to extend outdoor dining to May 10. The extension is part of the City’s emergency proclamation.

“This is not just for business owners, but for folks who work in one of our largest industries,” City Councilor Spencer Thibodeau said.

The City extended outdoor dining on public sidewalks and parking spots in October. That was set to expire Monday. 

Sugar Giant & Boozy Giant

Little Giant restaurant in the West End is  launching two new ventures—Sugar Giant and Boozy Giant. Both brands along with the new Little Giant heated outdoor dining space are expected to launch as soon as this weekend.

Sugar Giant (website, instagram) will be a pick-up/delivery bakery with online ordering (website launching soon). The menu will feature ready to eat items as well as options that customers can finish off in their kitchens at home. The new bakery will be operate in the mornings out of the Little Giant restaurant which already has the necessary equipment and kitchen space. In addition to online ordering, Little Giant customers will be able to add Sugar Giant items to their takeout order, and when LG outdoor dining restarts customers will be able to add bakery items to their order to take home after the meal. The Sugar Giant website is now up and accepting pre-orders for the launch on Saturday. I’ve got my order in for the cinnamon rolls and blueberry galette.

Boozy Giant (instagram) will be a wine and beer delivery service that will pair an expanded and curated set of wines for local delivery 5+ nights a week.

Little Giant will be working with CarHop and DoorDash to deliver baked goods and wine/beer to their customers, while exploring taking the delivery part of the operation in-house. A new baker has joined the Little Giant team as part of the launch of Sugar Giant.

While both of these new initiatives came about due to the pandemic, owner Ian Malin shared he’s created the business plan for each around the expectation they’ll continue to be important facets of Little Giant even after Covid recedes and life returns to a new normal.

New Natural Wine Shop for Portland

Sommelier and wine educator Margot Mazur (instagram, substack) is in the early stages of planning to open a new wine shop called American Fizz in Portland in late 2021.

At American Fizz Mazur plans to focus on natural American made wines including fruit wines and ciders—with most bottles falling in the $15 – 25 price range. Mazur is also planning to stock locally made foods and produce. A wine education program will be a central part of Mazur’s plans.

Mazur currently lives in Somerville, Massachusetts where she formerly was a sommelier at Lauren Friel’s highly regarded natural wine bar Rebel Rebel, and the beverage director at Wild Child.

She recently launched a email newsletter on Substack also called The Fizz. Become a subscriber to get access to her weekly interviews with with women who work in the wine industry.

This newsletter is going to be mostly containing interviews with women in wine—winemakers, sommeliers, shop owners and employees, servers, farmers, and everyone in between. There will also be some deep dives into specific wine-related topics, such as the history of American winemaking, a look into wine additives, and the technical side of preventing wine from turning into vinegar (wine nerd stuff).

Restaurant Real Estate: January 2021

Welcome to the January 2021 edition of the Portland Food Map restaurant real estate listings sponsored by The Boulos Company. This monthly column gathers in one convenient place the spaces available in Portland that could be potential sites for restaurants and food producers/retailers to locate their next business.

Even in these tough times for the hospitality industry some people are pursuing their dreams and opening new food businesses. Finding the right spot is one of the crucial early challenges in launching a new business and hopefully this new resource will make that step just a little bit easier.

West End

64 Pine St – The former Aurora Provisions space is for sale or lease. The 4,629 sq ft is listed at $12.83/sq ft (NNN) and is also available for sale for $1,395,000.

101 York St – a 15,000 sq ft sub-dividable space in the new building on the corner of York and High Street is available for $15-20/sq ft (NNN). The space already has a hood vent and grease traps installed.

Arts District

11 Brown St – the space where BRGR Bar is located on Brown Street is for lease. The 4,321 turnkey restaurant space is available for $19/sq ft (NNN). All furniture, fixtures & equipment included, as are 2 parking spots and 2,000 sq ft of storage space.

114 Center St –this 1,500 – 10,000 sq ft space off Free Street is for lease at $8-25/sq ft (MG).

555 Congress St – the former Five Fifty-Five is available to lease. The 1,089 – 3,647 sq ft space is listed at $22/sq ft (NNN).

593 Congress St – The former Vinland is available to lease. The 1,720 sq ft space is listed at $19.41/sq ft (MG).

605 Congress St – Two spaces in the State Theater Building is available. They are 543 sq ft and 2,685 sq ft and are listed at $25-35/sq ft (MG).

646 Congress St – this 960 sq ft former retail space adjacent to The Jewel Box is for lease at $25/sq ft (MG).

Bayside

15 Chestnut St – the 14,000 sq ft building that was the former home of Grace is for sale for $3,730,000.

84 Cove St – The former Milk & Honey in Bayside is available for $13/sq ft (NNN).

360 Cumberland Ave – a 1,900 sq ft back building hidden behind 360 Cumberland Ave is available for $20-25/sq ft (NNN).

23 Marginal Way – a 1,300 sq ft space in Century Plaza is available for $28/sq ft (NNN).

34 Portland St – the 4,256 sq ft building that was formerly was occupied by Candy’s is for sale for $695,000.

Old Port

1 Commercial St – the original location of Benkay at the corner of Commercial and India Streets is available. The 2,494 sq ft is for lease at $35/sq ft (NNN).

5 Commercial St – the former Rosemont Market at the corner of Commercial and India Streets is available. The 1,700 sq ft is for lease at $35/sq ft (NNN).

9 Commercial St – the former Commercial Street location of Arabica is available. 3,018/sq ft for $35/sq ft (NNN).

266 Commercial St – 6,689 sq ft of new construction retail space will be available for $20-22/sq ft (NNN).

383 Commercial St – 4 street retail spaces will be available (1,631 – 1,971 sq ft) at $28/sq ft (NNN) in a new building under construction at the corner of Maple and Commercial Streets. It’s building is expected to be finished in the fall of 2020.

98 Cross St – two retail spaces (991 and 1891 sq ft) are available for $20/sq ft (MG).

18 Exchange St – 1,800 sq ft of retail space for lease at $6,950/month (MG).

90 Exchange St – Eaux is moving to a new location and that’s freeing up their former location on Exchange St. 1,500 sq ft at $40/sq ft (MG).

225 Federal St – the former Old Port Po’ Boys & Pickles is available. 1,000 sq ft at $30/sq ft (MG).

345 Fore St – Vena’s is moving and that’s freeing up their current location. 2,310 sq ft for a $3,750/month.

363 Fore St – this 1,250 sq ft restaurant space at the corner of Fore and Middle Street is for lease at $6,500/month (MG).

422 Fore St – the former Pearl space is available, 2,400 sq ft at $38/sq ft (MG).

425 Fore St – The former Five Guys is available. $2,900/sq ft and $40/sq ft (MG).

443 Fore St – the space currently occupied by Evo Kitchen + Bar is for lease and will be available once Evo is moves into the Pattern Storehouse building at the 58 Fore site. The 1,706 sq ft are available for $54.51/sq ft (MG) or $7,750 per month.

446 Fore St – 1,600 – 3,400 sq ft in the former Pearl space with entrances on Wharf and Fore Streets is available for $30-40/sq ft (MG).

40 Free St – A new building is under construction on Free Street by JB Brown. The first floor will have 4/5 storefronts ranging in size from 1,358 to 3,067 sq ft. The construction is expected to be completed in early 2021. The rate is $30/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 $24/sq ft (NNN).

131 Middle St – this 3,512 sq ft retail spaace is for lease at $14.50/sq ft (NNN).

66 Pearl St – the 5,796 space formerly occupied by Bull Moose is available for $15.75/sq ft (MG).

2 Portland Square – the former Walter’s is back on the market. 3,219 sq ft for $28/sq ft (MG).

3 Portland Square – This new building will include 2,500 – 20,000 square feet of retail space for$28.50/sq ft.

3 Spring St – the 2,554 – 3,500 sq ft former Lio space is available at $23/sq ft (NNN).

5 Spring St – the first floor space located below the former home of Lio at the corner of Cross and Spring Streets. 3,069 sq ft at $20-23/sq ft (NNN).

23 Temple St – this 947 sq ft is located in the same building as the Nickelodeon. It’s for lease at $25/sq ft (MG).

India/Washington Ave

100 Fore St – 2 retail spaces are available in a new building planned for Fore Street. 1,141 and 1,914 sq ft respectively, $27 – 30/sq ft (NNN).

The Black Box – 300 sq ft, $1,450 per month (3 month minimum) which includes all utilities, high speed WiFi, and shared access to a common unit that includes two bathrooms (1 ADA) as well as shared use of the adjacent patio space that can accommodate outdoor seating.

Forest Ave

688 Forest Ave – the former Valley Chinese space is for lease for $12/sq ft (MG).

949 Forest Ave – the former Maelily Ryleigh’s is for lease. The 4,185 sq ft restaurant is available at $19/sq ft (NNN).

1190 Forest Ave – located right in the center of Morrill’s Corner. 3,000 – 5,082 sq ft at $12 – 20/sq ft (NNN).

Other

559 Brighton Ave – when Rosemont Market moved their kitchen, warehouse and office space in one building the retail space in their original building on Brighton became available for sale for $550,000.

1041 Brighton Ave – 1,200 -7,000 sq ft of space available in the strip mall that’s the longtime location of Panda Garden. The space is available for $10-13/sq ft (NNN).

441 Congress St – The 2,400 sq ft former home of Guitar Grave across the street from 1 Monument Square is available for $20/sq ft.

1283 Congress St – part of this build was in the process of becoming a restaurant. A hood was installed a couple years. Those plans have apparently been shelved and the space is now for lease. For more information call Harbor City Realty (207) 775-1991.

139 Riverside St – a 5,020 sq ft restaurant space available for $15/sq ft (MG).

249 Saint John St – a 3,41 sq ft building that has been occupied by one restaurant or another for years is for sale for $325,000.

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

111 Main St, Westbrook – the former Ruby Tuesday’s in Westbrook Crossing shopping plaza off of Brighton is for lease. Contact nick.margitza@wsdevelopment.com.

117 Route 1, Freeport – the former Conundrum building in Freeport is for sale for $1.2M.

Glossary

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.

The 2020 Year in Review

It’s been an extremely difficult year for restaurants and the entire world. No report can fully or adequately capture all that has happened and that we’ve experienced in the past 12 months. That said, here’s an attempt to provide a high level overview of the good, the bad, the ugly, and the rays of hope and sunshine that was the 2020 year in food for Portland:

  • Covid-19 – The pandemic crashed into the restaurant industry in the week leading up to Friday the 13th of March. It’s been a tortuous year for employees and business owners ever since. Everyone experienced the uncertainty of those early days, the rapid growth of takeout options, the eventual loosening of restrictions in the early summer that paved the way for outdoor and on-street dining, and the contraction in business as cooler weather and darker days arrived. A number of restaurants have permanently closed—each and every one of the having a ripple effect through the lives of their staff and the communities they were part of. The vaccine(s) have provided a light that we can see at then end of a long tunnel. Here’s to hoping for a better year in 2021.
  • Community – In response to Covid, the racial justice protests and hardship heightened by the recession we’ve seen the restaurant industry and the broader community work together and respond in new ways. In the spring efforts like Feeding the Frontline and Frontline Foods channeled donations from the public into free meals to medical staff who were working to respond to the pandemic. Cooking for Community was founded in Maine as a way to deliver meals to people in need while simultaneously supporting local restaurants, farms and fisheries. Thousands of Mainers took part in the Black Lives Matter protests. The restaurant industry showed its support by taking part in Bakers Against Racism, the Black is Beautiful collaboration beer project and Food Industry Action, and Mainers became new customers Black-owned restaurants, bars and other businesses informed by the list created by BlackOwnedMaine.com. Fork Food Lab established an entrepreneurial empowerment scholarship program and Mainers supported a Go Fund Me campaign to enable Me Lon Togo to move their shuttered Waterville restaurant to Camden. This list just scratches the surface…numerous efforts by individual restaurants and people have raised funds, created programs from scratch and otherwise stepped forward to help people in need.
  • Most Notable Openings – Against all odds, new food business have launched both pre/post pandemic and managed to hold on throughout the year. The most notable opening for me have been Magnus on Water in January, Judy Gibson in February, Leeward in March, Via Vecchia and Zao Ze Cafe in June and Liu Bian Tan in September, and the fearless launch of Solo Cucina Market on March 22nd. See the monthly chronicle for details on all 2020 openings.
  • Latin American and Caribbean – Options for Latin American and the Caribbean are on the upswing. Magnus on Water, Dos Naciones, Sal de la Tierra, Tacos y Tequila, Mi Pueblo Tacos y Tequila, and Pacifico all launched in the past year. In addition, Yardie Ting is planning to open a second location, Flores is building out a bigger restaurant at 431 Congress Street, a new eatery called Caribbean Taste in under construction in South Portland, and a Costa Rican/Honduran inspired restaurant called Cafe Louis is under construction in South Portland.
  • Upcoming in 2021 – There are a number of new businesses slated to open in 2021 and I expect additions to the list to accelerate as we head into spring. For the full list of new food businesses under development see PFM Under Construction list. Here are some of the current highlights:
    • Cafe Louis – a Costa Rican/Honduran inspired restaurant being opened by Eaux owner Evan Richardson and business partner Ben Ferri in South Portland.
    • Coveside Coffee – a new coffee shop in Woodfords Corner being launched by Andy Nesheim and Zara Bohan.
    • Dandy’s Handy Store – a market being opened in Yarmouth by Garrison chef/owner Christian Hayes.
    • Elda/Jack Rabbit – Bowman Brown will be re-opening Elda and launching a new bakery cafe in the mill building Biddeford.
    • Helm – a new oyster bar and restaurant located in the WEX building on Thames Street.
    • Papa – a new food truck being launched by Josh Amergian.
    • Pigeons – Peter and Orenda Hale are opening “fly casual” daytime neighborhood bar/eatery and with a daily happy hour in the space where they formerly operated Drifters Wife.
    • Sok Sabai – a new food truck being launched by Tina Nop that will serve  Cambodian, Laotian and Vietnamese food.
    • SoPo Seafood – a new oyster and wine bar and seafood shop in Knightville in South Portland.

Top 10 Articles

The most popular articles published on Portland Food Map in the past year.

  1. Big Takeout List (March 14th)
  2. Indoor/Outdoor Dining List (June 21st)
  3. Pandemic Casualty List (May 4th)
  4. Black-owned Restaurants List (June 1st)
  5. Rise of the Restaumart (April 21st)
  6. Maine Hospitality Workers Resource Guide (March 23rd)
  7. Vertical Harvest Coming to Maine (July 28th)
  8. Food Truck Tracking Apps (June 26th)
  9. Maine Heirloom Apple Guide (August 31st)
  10. Opening of NewYork Fried Chicken (June 7th)

Notable Events of 2020

Passings

  • Nancy Whipple Lord – a co-founder of the Seamen’s Club restaurant in 1973.
  • William M. “Bucky” Leighton, Jr., 70 –  a teacher at the Culinary Institute in Portland and a chef at Roberts Restaurant in Portland as well as a food service instructor at Portland Regional Vocational Technical Center in Portland.

For additional perspectives on the past year in food see Andrew Ross’s 2020 Best of list in the Maine Sunday Telegram.

Here are links to the Portland Food Map year in review reports for 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, and 2010.