Support for Me Lon Togo

A Go Fund Me campaign has been set-up for Mé Lon Togo, a West African restaurant with locations in Waterville and Searsport. The money will help owner Jordan Benissan in relocating his Waterville restaurant.

Here’s the project background share on the site:

Jordan Benissan is the proud owner and chef of Mé Lon Togo (translated to I love Togo)—two West African inspired restaurants in Searsport and Waterville, Maine. Unfortunately due to the current challenging economic and social landscape, he was recently forced to close his Waterville location. We’re hoping to help Jordan keep his business going by giving him the chance to re-open his Waterville restaurant and share his Togolese cuisine and his experience once again with the local community. Jordan himself is a long-time community member of Maine, and while food may be his passion, he is also an accomplished musician having taught African drumming professionally for decades at colleges across Maine, including Colby and Bowdoin, as well as across the United States. -from Jake, Eating Through the Seacoast (Instagram: eatingthroughtheseacoast)

For more information on Mé Lon Togo visit their website, follow them on facebook and instagram, or read these articles from the Kennebec Journal and Down East magazine., and watch this video about Benissan and Mé Lon Togo.

Donate to the campaign on gofundme.com.

Burundi Star Coffee Has Opened

A new  coffee shop called Burundi Star Coffee (facebook) opened earlier this week at 261 Saint John Street. In addition to drip coffee and espresso-based drinks, Burundi Star also sells baked goods from Norimoto Bakery.

As the name suggests, Burundi Star will feature coffee from Burundi. Their first coffee, Burundi Mutambu is a medium roast with tasting notes of “green apple, honey, and toffee”.

Stadlers to Open Zao Ze Cafe and Market

Chef Cara Stadler and her business partner/mother Cecile Stadler have announced plans to launch Zao Ze Cafe and Market (instgram) in Brunswick. Zao Ze will be located in the first floor of the Stadler’s aquaponics greenhouse just across the parking lot from Tao Yuan.

Zao Ze will feature “Asian street foods, with a focus on breakfast and lunch”. Their will be an open air seating area, and the Tao Yuan kitchen will be used for Zao Ze while the remaining renovations of the market and cafe space are being completed.

The Stadlers plan to continue serving takeout from Lio and Bao Bao, as well as open the deck at Lio for outdoor seating. Tao Yuan is expected to remain closed until this fall.

Showing Support

An article in the Press Herald highlights some of the ways local businesses including those in the hospitality business are showing their support for the protests. Included in the article’s coverage are Ada’s, Rising Tide and The Honey Paw.

Sid Rumma, a partner at Ada’s pasta restaurant on Congress Street in Portland, couldn’t participate in the Black Lives Matter protests, but he could offer bowls of spaghetti to those protesting.

“I’m just trying to be helpful,” he said as he prepared free midday meals on Wednesday, the second day he and his team at Ada’s have offered to feed and nourish hungry protesters in advance of the afternoon’s public demonstrations.

Re-opening of Restaurants

The Portland PhoenixBangor Daily News, and Press Herald have all recently reported on the re-opening of restaurants in Portland for outdoor dining.

The Mash Tun experience was barebones. Colby worked the outdoor tables while owner Curtis Campbell was behind the bar indoors, serving drinks and cooking the restaurant’s menu of elevated pub fare — burgers, tacos, fries and grilled cheese. Campbell and Colby aside, the only time anyone entered Mash Tun would be when a patron darted in to use its single bathroom.

Black-Owned Restaurants and Bars

I’ve been getting a number of requests the last couple of days for a list of black-owned restaurants and bars. Here are the ones I know of in the Portland area—please let me know if you know of any that are missing and I’ll add them to the list.

To the best of my knowledge Asmara, Burundi Star Coffee, Rwanda Bean and Yardie Ting are the three currently open and doing takeout.

For a list of black-owned businesses in a range of industries across the state of Maine see blackownedmaine.com.

Re-Opening List (Outdoor Dining Only)

Update: A combined outdoor/indoor dining list has been published. This page is no longer being kept up to date.

Restaurants can start re-opening in Cumberland County for outdoor dining only as of June 1st. Here’s a small but growing list of the restaurants have announced their outdoor dining opening day plans. Please let me know if you know of any that are missing and I’ll add them.

Even with restaurants starting to re-open, restaurants that have established take-out programs will likely continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

FOOD TRUCKS/CARTS

Cooking for Community

The Christian Science Monitor has published an article highlighting the good work of Cooking for Community.

Today, Cooking for Community (C4C) provides just over 2,000 meals a week. In its first two months, the grassroots initiative raised about $220,000 from individuals, foundations, and corporations. It is buying crops from farmers, seafood from fishers, and keeping many of Greater Portland’s kitchen crews employed while cooking for hungry people.

For more information or to make a donation visit: www.cookingforcommunity.org

Restaurants aiding in the work of C4C are: Chaval, Gather, Istanbul Cafe, Leeward, Little Giant, Maggie Mae’s, Mama Mo’s, Mainely Burgers, Mr. Tuna, Nura, Union, Zu Bakery.

Carhop Drive-In

Two Portland restaurants are taking a novel approach to outdoor dining. Both the Other Side Diner and Isa are taking their inspiration from drive-in restaurants of the 20th Century.

Isa Bistro – is offering a modified version of their regular menu with a few carhop classics. Just park in one of the spots in the parking lot off Brattle Street and they’ll bring your order to your car for in-vehicle dining. Friday and Saturday, opening at 5:30 pm. Reservations required, (207) 808-8533.

Other Side Diner – is serving a line-up of classic diner food (burgers, milkshakes, etc). Pick-up your meal from their drive-thru window and then park and dine or take it to go. Friday and Saturday, 4:30 – 7 pm.

Diana Kennedy: Nothing Fancy


As part of their online film series, the Portland Museum of Art is screening Diana Kennedy: Nothing Fancy.

Diana Kennedy: Nothing Fancy is an intimate, candid perspective into the curious world of cookbook author and British ex-pat Diana Kennedy – widely regarded as the world’s expert on Mexican cuisine. At five feet tall and 97 years old, Diana is larger than life: a foul-mouthed fireball far more feisty and energetic than her age and petite frame let on. Author of nine Mexican cookbooks, she has spent over 60 years researching and documenting the regional cuisines of Mexico. Kennedy has lived ‘off the grid’ on an eight acre ranch outside Zitácuaro, Michoacán since the 1970’s: composting, growing her own crops, and using solar power to run her home. Aware of her own mortality, she is working tirelessly to solidify the legacy of her life’s efforts, with the hope of turning her home into a foundation for culinary education in Mexico.

Rent the Film and Watch it Online