Michelin in Maine?

The Michelin Guide recently launched in Florida, and in an article in the Wall Street Journal they asked a panel of food writers to predict where the guide should expand to next. Guess which state made the list?

Restaurateur and author Michael Cecchi-Azzolina predicts Maine,

“There are the lobster shacks, but also amazing chefs like off-the-grid genius Erin French at the Lost Kitchen in Freedom; Melissa Kelly at Primo in Rockland; and Sara Jenkins, who was behind Porchetta in New York City and opened Nina June in Rockport. Everyone talks about Noma and foraging, but the simplicity of what these chefs do is also steeped in originality and a homage to Maine’s culinary origins.”

Michelin currently covers 6 geographies in the US: New York, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Florida and California. They expanded into California in 2019 when the state’s tourism board agreed to underwrite the annual operational costs.

Wayside Review & Savory Cocktails

The Maine Sunday Telegram has published a review of Wayside Tavern, and

Cast in deep greens, golds and Victorian-era stained wood, this European-inspired restaurant (read: mostly Italian and French) is the sort of bistro-esque neighborhood restaurant any locality would be lucky to have. The cocktail menu takes familiar classics like negronis and boozy spritzes and tweaks them just enough so you’d notice only if you’re paying attention. The menu does the same, although it also plays with format, reimagining a roast chicken as an open-faced sandwich slathered in ricotta and pine nuts, soaking up the fat and juices from griddled chicken thighs…

an article about a trend in cocktail design popping up in local bars.

Au courant cocktail enthusiasts or anyone with an adventuresome palate these days can sip drinks all around town that showcase the savory flavors of everything from fresh spinach and carrots or roasted beets to Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, brown butter, lobster, North African shakshuka sauce – even hot and sour Thai tom yum soup.

New Owner of Big Sky Bread Co.

Joseph Rank recently took over ownership of Big Sky Bread Company (website, facebook, instagram). Co-founder and owner Martha Elkus posted a statement that in part reads,

After 29 wonderful years at the bakery, the time has come for me to move on. In January 2023, after searching for the right person, I sold the bakery to a great guy named Joe Rank. He is a neighbor and long-time customer who is committed to our signature products and all the things that make Big Sky a very special place. At the same time, he has the energy, skills, and vision to make sure Big Sky stays strong for the next 30 years. Joe and his wife Jean live in Deering Center and have 3 sons who attend Portland schools. They have been customers of Big Sky for many years, their kids have played at our dough table, and they understand why Big Sky is so important to this community. I feel confident that the bakery is in good hands.

Martha Elkus and and her late husband Bill Harris founded the Portland Big Sky Bread in 1994. It’s located in the former Engine 8 Firehouse in Woodfords Corner at 536 Deering Ave.

Portland Distilling Company

Co-owners Caleb Landry, Adam Sousa, and Matt Brown are launching a new distillery called the Portland Distilling Company (instagram). The distillery is under construction at 135 Walton Street on back side of the same building as the Speckled Ax roastery and coffee shop.

They aim to eventually have a full portfolio of spirits including whisky, bourbon, rum, vodka and various styles of gin. Their first product—which they hope to launch this fall—will be Goldie’s Cocktail Gin produced in a London dry style. PDC’s production still has a 300-gallon capacity which will enable the distillery to produce 10,000 gallons of spirits a year.

Landry and Sousa are the creative directors at Blyth and Burrows and Brown work at Ameriprise Financial. From their bartending background Sousa and Landry have developed an understanding of where there’s opportunity to bring new products to life that meet industry needs and wants which will guide the new product development process at PDC.

Volcano Bar and Grill

George and Jossie Papanikolaou have leased the former Seasons Grille space at 155 Riverside Street where they plan to open a new bar and grill called Volcano (website, facebook, instagram, twitter).

The menu is still under development but is expected to include standards like burgers and fried chicken as well as some Greek dishes. Volcano will have a full bar and will host live music. Renovations are underway and no opening day has been set.

The Papanikolaou family also own Stacks Pancake Company which the opened in July 2021 and previously operated restaurants in New York and New Jersey.

Upcoming Events

February 11Ali Waks Adams is teaching a virtual cooking class to benefit the Oasis Free Clinic in Brunswick.

February 14 – it’s Valentine’s Day. Check with your favorite restaurant on special menus and events.

February 28 – Maine Restaurant Week’s Incredible Breakfast Cook-off.

March 1-12Maine Restaurant Week.

March 5 – Maine Restaurant Week’s Spirit Quest.

March 18Chris Toy is teaching a virtual cooking class to benefit the Oasis Free Clinic in Brunswick.

April 3Scratch Baking is teaching a bagel baking class.

April 21 – The Good Food Awards will take place, there at 12 finalists from Maine in the running this year.

May 20Maine Wild Wine Fest.

June 12-18Portland Wine Week.

July 23Open Farm Day.

September 10Maine Cheese Festival.

October 8Maine Open Creamery Day.

Restaurant Real Estate: February 2023

Welcome to the February 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 monthly column 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 – the former Treasure Chest space in Longfellow Square is for lease. Call (207) 773-7100 for more details.

64 Pine St – The former Aurora Provisions space is for lease. The 4,629 sq ft is listed at $20.61/sq ft (NNN).

156 State St – 1,250 – 7,550 sq ft of space on the first floor of the Portland Club is available for $13.50 – 24/sq ft (NNN).

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

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

582 Congress St – the longtime home of Harmon’s Floral Company will be available for lease starting in May. The 1,550 sq ft space is for lease for $5,850/month (NNN).

649 Congress St – the 3,000 sq ft former Dos Naciones storefront is available for $22/sq ft (MG).

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 $20/sq ft (NNN).


75 Chestnut St – a 2,100 sq ft ground floor retail space under construction in Bayside is for sale for $649,999.

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 $13/sq ft (MG).

52 Hanover St – a new building set to open in April 2023. On the first floor will be 1,500 – 4,500 sq ft retail space available for $30/sq ft (NNN).

82 Hanover St – the 3,067 sq ft former Yard space in Bayside is available for $30/sq ft (NNN); the sale includes all FF&E inventory.

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 4,256 sq ft building that was formerly occupied by Candy’s is for sale for $649,000.

24 Preble St – the former Arcadia space is available; 2,835 sq ft for $20/sq ft (NNN).

Old Port

Canal Plaza – the former Copper Branch building in Canal Plaza is available for $60/sq ft (NNN).

1 Commercial St – the original location of Benkay at the corner of Commercial and India Streets is undergoing renovations and is expected to be available in 2023. The 900-2,950 sq ft is for lease at $35/sq ft (NNN).

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).

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).

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

43 Exchange St – the 1,717 sq ft space occupied by Peruvian Link is for lease for $60/sq ft (MG). It’s located midway down lower Exchange Street.

89 Exchange St – the 1,350 sq ft former Dobra Tea shop is available for $45/sq ft (MG).

176 Exchange St – the former Starbucks store at the crossroads of the Old Port at the intersection of Middle and Exchange Streets is for lease. The 1,675 sq ft space is for lease for $75 (MG).

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 $24/sq ft (NNN).

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 for $3,125/month (MG).

28 Monument Square – a booth in the 2nd floor of the Public Market House. Call 207-317-9626 for details.

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).

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).

42 Wharf St – this 3,770 sq ft space in the Old Port includes a 2,000 sq ft patio, $45/sq ft (MG).

43 Wharf St – the former 1,350 sq ft Drink Exchange space is for lease for $43/sq ft (MG).

India Street

140 Fore St – 3,000 sq ft of space in a new building located east of India Street; $30/sq ft (NNN).

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 2,500 – 21,911 sq ft of space available for $24-29/sq ft (NNN).

47 India St – 1,000 sq ft of the former Lois’ Market building is for lease, $3,333/month (NNN).

Forest Ave

500 Forest Ave – the 900 sq ft space formerly occupied by Starbird is for lease for $1,900/month (MG).

671-675 Forest Ave – a retail building in the center of Woodfords Corner is for sale for $675,000.

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

945 Forest Ave – the former Photo Market building is for sale for $899,000.

1871 Forest Ave – the former Tortilla Flat building is for sale for $3,300,000.

Deering Center

476 Stevens Ave – the Elsmere BBQ building in Deering Center is for sale for $1,550,000; the sale includes all FF&E inventory.

502 Stevens Ave – 766 sq ft space previously occupied by Abura Skin Care and before that by Ice It Bakery; $26/sq ft (NNN).

Elsewhere in Portland

936 Brighton Ave – 2,114 sq ft of space in an 11k sq ft building that’s the future home of Allspeed Cycle and Snow for $20/sq ft.

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).

1339 Washington Ave – the 4,068 sq ft former Parker’s Restaurant building in North Deering is for lease ($9-11k/month) or for sale ($2,500,000).

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

Westgate Shopping Center – four 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

Biscuits & Co, Biddeford – Biscuits & Co closed on October 16th and the business and equipment is for sale. Contact Biscuitsandcompany@gmail.com for more information.

Buxton – the former Buxton Commons restaurant is available for sale or lease. Lease terms are $4,500/month (NNN) for 3,600 sq ft of space.

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


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.

Lenora Opens Monday

Lenora (website, facebook, instagram) a new 115-seat Mexican-inspired taco bar is scheduled to open Monday morning. The restaurant is located in 2 Portland Square in the location that was formerly the home of Walter’s. The space has been completely renovated and features a central bar, tile floors and high ceilings which makes for a large open light-filled dining room.

Lenora will be initially open for breakfast and plan to expand hours and menu to include lunch and dinner within a few weeks.

The dine-in or take-out counter service breakfast menu (see below) includes breakfast tacos and sandwiches, pastries, a fruit parfait, fresh juices, cocktails and a full espresso bar. Once Lenora opens for lunch and dinner they’ll be serving a menu of table service Mexican-inspired street food. You can see Lenora’s draft lunch/dinner menu and drinks menu on their website.

Owners Rian and Jen Wyllie, Brian BeattieAaron Sanders and Max Toste formerly worked together operating Lone Star Taco Bar and Deep Ellum in Boston. The Wyllie’s have been part of the Portland restaurant community since they moved to Maine in 2017.

Lenora will be 7 – 11 am, seven days a week starting Monday.