NYT: Bluet

The New York Times has published an article on Bluet, the sparkling wine produced from Maine low bush blueberries.

The bottle-fermented wine, packaged like Champagne in a cork-topped bottle, is more contemplative. The 2017 was deeper, subtler, lightly savory and quietly complex. It, too, was about 7 percent alcohol, near the upper limit for blueberry wines. The two bottles made me wonder, why has this never been done before?

Helm Slated for the WEX Building

A new restaurant called Helm (website, instagram, facebook) is under construction in a 3,000 sq ft space located on the first floor of the new WEX building on Thames Street.

The menu at the oyster bar and bistro will be “an ode to the coast. Expect oysters, seafood, meat, and produce all from our local Maine farmers and fishermen” with a bar program that “focuses on natural, biodynamic, and organic wines as well as a rotating Maine brewery draft selection, and classic cocktails”. The restaurant will include a private dining room to host events and a courtyard that will seat up to 30.

Owner Elizabeth Legere and General Manager James Rose hope to open Helm in December. They shared that they’re excited to contribute to the restaurant scene in Portland and see a lot of opportunity in the developing neighborhood where the restaurant is located.

Three of Strong Grand Opening

Three of Strong is holding their grand opening starting today and through the weekend:

  • Friday – Master Distiller Graham Hamblett will be signing labels of the Three of Strong silver rum. The Maine Maple Creamee food truck will be onsite.
  • Saturday – Chef Evan Mallet from Black Trumpet in Portsmouth will preparing a pig roast with dessert by the Morton’s Moo ice cream food truck.
  • Sunday – there will be a shuffleboard tournament with food by Eighty 8 Donuts and Rebel Cheesteaks.

WSJ insider’s Guide to Portland

The Wall Street Journal has published an “An Incomparable Insider’s Guide” to Portland tapping into the local knowledge of artist Will Sears, chefs Ilma Lopez and Damian Sansonetti, designer Jill McGowan, and author Richard Russo.

James Beard award-winning restaurants line cobblestone streets, breweries turn out serious suds and the lobster roll is in a constant state of upscale reinvention. Portland, Maine, is a food-lover’s fantasyland, but the culture goes well beyond the plate.

Location, Location, Location: August 2019

Welcome to the August edition of the PFM restaurant and food retail commercial real estate listings. This monthly column gathers in one convenient place spaces available in Portland that could be potential sites for restaurants and food producers/retailers to locate their next business. Finding just the right spot is one of the crucial early challenges in launching a new restaurant, bar, bakery, coffee shop or food retail business and hopefully this new resource will make it a little bit easier.

The listings are organized by neighborhood, and contains square footage, cost, location, background info on prior usage, whether for lease or sale, and a link to the full listing online where you can see all the details. Storefronts that were formerly a restaurant are indicated in the description and those likely already have a hood and grease traps.

Listings that are new or have been updated since last month are flagged with an red asterisks (*).

Feel free to post a comment below or email me at anestes@portlandfoodmap.com if you know of a good one that may have been overlooked.

West End

785 Congress St – a renovated 1,378 sq ft space near Bramhall Square is available for lease at $17.42 per sq ft (MG). It’s located on the same side of the street as Roma Cafe, Quiero and Flood’s. As a West End resident myself I’d love to see a business open in this long vacant space.

953 Congress St – the former Rosanna’s at the corner of Saint John and Congress Streets has remained vacant since the ice cream shop closed at the end of February. My understanding is that Dogfish Bar and Grille owner Ted Arcand is the owner of the building.

207 Danforth St – the former Eco-Laundry space on Danforth Street next to Little Giant has been unoccupied for a couple years and is for lease directly from the owner – see the sign in the window for contact information.

101 York St – a 5,249 sq ft sub-dividable space in the new building on the corner of York and High Street is available for $20/sq ft (NNN). The space already has a hood vent and grease traps installed.

Arts District

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

477 Congress St – The first floor mall in the Time & Temperature Building was the longtime home of Whip’s Right Time Cafe. The Cafe closed a few years a go and now this 1,750 sq ft space is available for $13/sq ft (MG).

480 Congress St – 3,513 – 7,213 sq ft space available for $26/sq ft (NNN).

511 Congress St – a 6,100 sq ft first floor space is available in the Ocean Gate Plaza for $18/sq ft (MG).

600 Congress St – The Schwartz Building has been under construction for a many years. As one of the best positioned, most visible corners in the city it seems destined to become a restaurant some day. The property owner is Geoffrey Rice.

645 Congress St – a 1,200 sq ft former market space is available for $2,500/month (MG).

*649 Congress St – This is the former Local Sprouts location. Local Sprouts went out of business in late June. The 3,000 sq ft space is available for $18/sq ft (NNN).

*360 Cumberland Ave – this 1,000 – 2,000 sq ft is currently the home of the Cumberland Ave Shop. It’s available for lease at $21/sq ft (NNN).


148 Anderson St – this 9,600 sq ft building in East Bayside is located next to Tandem Coffee. The building is zoned for light industrial so a brewery or distillery with a tasting room would fit the zoning parameters but a restaurant would not. The building is available for $12/sq ft (NNN). The building has a drive-in door and comes with 15-20 parking spaces.

166 Cumberland Ave – this had been slated to become the reincarnation of Uncle Billy’s Barbecue. The project never came to fruition and the storefront, formerly Bayside Variety, remains in the hands of the business partner of Uncle Billy and my understanding is he’s looking for a new partner to work with on a restaurant in the space.

82 Hanover St – there are a number of units available in the redevelopment of this former Department of Public Works building ranging in size from 1,488 to 7,050 sq ft at $16 – 20/sq ft (NNN).

195 Lancaster St – this 3,008 sq ft building is located at the intersection of Lancaster and Elm Streets. It is available for $18/sq ft (NNN).

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 1,914 sq ft is for lease at $35/sq ft (NNN).

100 Commercial St – the 3,688 sq ft space formerly occupied by K Colette is available for lease at $37.50/sq ft (MG). It is located in the Thomas Block building which is also home to Solo Italiano.

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) in a new building under construction at the corner of Maple and Commercial Streets.

*400 Commercial St – owner Chris DiMillo plans to renovate the first floor of this building into a restaurant space for lease.

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).

75 Market/157 Middle St – Portland Trading Company has moved around the corner to 83 Market Street which will free up their 2,025 sq ft space for $27.95/sq ft (MG). It’s one of 4 spaces available at this address. In total there’s 1,071 – 6,356 sq ft for lease.

1 Monument Square – The owners of 1 Monument Square have a large first floor space available for a restaurant. 4,385 sq ft for lease at $25/sq ft (NNN). You can see some artist sketches of what a restaurant in this spot could look like in the full listing.

2 Portland Square – Walter’s closed May 31st and is for sale. The business and equipment are listed for $250k or just the furniture, fixtures and equipment are available for $175k. The current lease which runs through March 2020 is $24.98/sq ft (NNN).

1 Union Wharf – a 5,608 sq ft space on the first floor of a new building slated for Commercial Street is available for $20.95/sq ft (NNN).

India Street

100 Fore St – 2 spaces are available in a new building planned for Fore Street. 1,245 and 2,056 sq ft respectively, $27 – 30/sq ft (NNN).

170 Fore St – 5,000 sq ft of retail space at $24/sq ft (NNN).

20 Thames St – a 1,800 sq ft is available for lease just off India Street for $24/sq ft (NNN). Speckled Ax Coffee has leased 1,800 sq ft in this building already.

Forest Ave

301 Forest Ave – 4,000 sq ft space adjacent to the Bier Cellar is available for $15/sq ft (NNN).

*449 Forest Ave – a 5,923 sq ft space is available in the Forest Ave Plaza across the street from Rose Foods. It’s listed at $21/sq ft (NNN).

509 Forest Ave – 6,000 sq ft of space near Bow Street Beverage is available for $12.75/sf ft (MG).

1053 Forest Ave – the former Papa John’s on Forest Ave is available, 1,200 sq ft at $18/sq ft (NNN).


*170 Brighton Ave – the former 7-11 building at the corner of Brighton and Saint John Street is for sale for $550,000. The building is 2,173 sq ft in size and comes with onsite parking spaces.

90 Congress St – Lolita will be going out of business on September 2nd. The fixtures are for sale for $275,000 and the lease for 30-seat 877 sq ft restaurant is $2,700 (NNN).

431 Congress St – the Mainely Wraps on Congress Street closed earlier this year. I can’t locate an official property listing but it remains vacant so is likely available for lease.

132 Marginal Way – this 2,300 sq ft space is located across the street from Trader Joe’s. It’s available for $23/sq ft (NNN).

25 Portland St – this 550 sq ft retail space is located down the street from Isa and Back Bay Grill. It’s available for $1,100 (MG).

100 Portland St – this 500 sq ft retail space is adjacent to Bayside American Cafe. It’s available for $1,200 per month (MG).

280 Saint John St – 2 spaces are available in the Union Station Plaza. The 4,400 and 2,600 sq ft spaces are available for $8/sq ft (NNN) and $12/sq ft (NNN) respectively.

46 Veranda St – the 600 sq ft building that currently is home to the East Deering location of Union Bagel is for sale for $500,000.

*75 Washington Ave – a 1,925 sq ft space in the Nissen Bakery building which is also home to Cong Tu Bot, Drifters/Maine & Loire, Maine Mead Works, Oxbow Brewing and Hardshore Distilling. $18/sq ft (NNN). A hood can’t be installed at this address but it can serve as a food retail space.

*199 West Commercial St – the longtime home of Benny’s Fried Clams is for sale for $60,000 after a short season last year opperating under the name Clam Digger.

Confidential Space – a 4,300 sq ft restaurant space in Portland is available. Details require a signed confidentiality agreement with the realtor.


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.

Simply Vegan by Silly’s Closing

Simply Vegan by Silly’s has announced that they will go out of business as of this weekend.

I wish to thank all of our guests who came to visit us over this past year. It has been such a pleasure to prepare your meals. My favorite interaction has been when you visit for the first time and I get to witness the smile on your faces when you realize you can order anything on the menu. That always makes me happy.

Owner Colleen Kelley shared on facebook that she’s closing because her “father is not doing well and I will be helping to take care of him”.

New Restaurant Coming to Dana St

News broke back in early May that Vignola/Cinque Terre would be closing and that the Miranda Restaurant Group was in negotiation to buy the building. Now owner Joshua Miranda has announced he has leased the 3,900 sq ft space where he plans to open a new restaurant and private event space.

Details on the concept are forthcoming. Miranda shared that he has “a different concept that we hope people will respond well to, and the 10 Dana Street property is just too special to pass on. It’s one of the more iconic buildings in the Old Port.”

Miranda opened Blyth and Burrows in June 2017. He hopes to open the new restaurant late fall 2019.

Lolita To close September 2nd

Lolita has announced plans to close. The night of September 2nd will be their last service.

Lolita is owned by Guy and Stella Hernandez in conjunction with business partners Neil & Lauren Reiter and Bob Manheimer. The restaurant opened June 1st 2014.

Here’s an excerpt from their announcement, you can read the full statement on instagram,

In January of 2006, we signed the lease on our first restaurant & our son came home from the Philippines in 2007. Since then, it’s been a thirteen-year whirlwind of family and restaurant life.

In 2012 we had the good fortune to connect with Neil Reiter, and with his experience & vision, the three of us developed what has become Lolita. Speaking of good fortune, we were also on the receiving end of the architectural skill, & creativity of Lauren Reiter who transformed a raw, concrete block space into the restaurant we love; softening the edges with reclaimed wood, a generous zinc bar, & finding ways for us to fit our wood grill & wine storage all into less than 900 square feet. As Neil has said, our intention was to make a place ‘reminiscent of an Old World bodega where, throughout the day, neighbors & visitors alike gather to share some wine, snacks or a meal, and a lot of congenial conversation.”

The restaurant has a sneaky way of cutting to the front of the line in life. It’s the thing that’s on fire (sometimes literally) that draws your energy. It’s been our way of life & it’s been absolutely grand. But now we’re ready for more – more time for us & our family. We’re not a fan of long goodbyes – (okay this post is a bit long) – so Monday, September 2nd will be our last night of service at Lolita. It has been the best adventure of our lives – so far.

Alcohol Manufacturing Fee (Updated)

Today’s paper reports on a new fee for producers of alcoholic beverages,

The Portland City Council on Monday will consider delaying implementation of a new manufacturer’s license fee for breweries, distilleries and wineries after brewery owners complained about being blindsided by the proposal, which was part of the city’s budget.

Update: the City has decided to postpone the new fees.