Reviewing and Retaining

Today’s Maine Sunday Telegram includes an article by Andrew Ross on the factors impacting his decision on when to start reviewing restaurants again,

But I confess, I miss writing about restaurants … maybe even more than I miss eating in them. I miss pulling out my phone and scrolling through photos of the dishes I ate and zooming in to puzzle out what made them succeed (or not). I even miss deciphering the notes I took surreptitiously during a meal. These are typed under the table, so they frequently read as if they were tapped out by someone with 10 thumbs.

and an article about which of the changes brought about by the pandemic are likely to persist after things return to normal.

The coronavirus pandemic has brought a whole menu of changes to Maine’s restaurant industry. Some innovations, like the temporary approval of cocktails to go, have excited both restaurant owners and diners. Others changes, they say, should be 86’d as soon as possible, restaurant lingo for “no longer available.” Here’s our look at some of the adjustments that have been made this spring, and the odds that they’ll stick around after the pandemic is over…

Food Industry Action

A new initiative called Food Industry Action launched on Thursday. As part of the program participating restaurants are raising money on June 27th for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund by donating “5% of sales…on behalf of a united food community”.

Portland area restaurants that so far have announced plans to take part include: A&C Grocery, Bresca and the Honey Bee, LB Kitchen, Market Street Eats, Palace Diner, Parlor Ice Cream, Ramona’s, Rose Foods, Tandem Coffee.

Black Dinah Chocolatiers to Change Name

Black Dinah Chocolates has announced plans to change the name of the company.

I’ve just plain been thinking a lot, period, these past two and a half weeks. About racism, antiracism, racial justice, and the powerful movement that is in play in our country at this moment. About what it takes for change to happen: murder, outrage, collective grief. And my place in it all. My company’s place in it all. And how it relates to you.

The company was named for Black Dinah Mountain on Isle au Haut where the company got its start before moving to Westbrook.

Several years after we moved our company to the mainland and south to the Greater Portland area, we noticed, to our dismay, that not everyone had the same good associations with our company name. And as our customer base grew, so did our perspective. Last fall, we began, as a team, to make a plan to transition to a new name.

The new name will be announced in July.

For additional information see articles in the Bangor Daily News and MaineBiz.

Evo X to Open Today

Evo X (instagram) the new waterfront food truck from Evo Kitchen + Bar is launching today at noon. The mobile kitchen is located adjacent the Eastern Prom walking trail near the former Portland Company Complex.

The concept for Evo X is of a waterfront seafood shack serving a menu of on-concept dishes and a few options (e.g. chickpea fries) carried over from the regular Evo menu.  There will be outdoor picnic table seating, counter service and drinks will be available from the Fore Points Marina bar which is also currently under development. The menu is a collaboration between chefs Matt Ginn and John Glover.

Bakers Against Racism

A growing number of bakers are teaming up to sell cookie boxes with all proceeds being donated to Black Lives Matter Portland. The response has been so strong that the cookie boxes sold out in about 24 hours, even after more than doubling the production.

Participating bakers and restaurants include Chaval, Tandem, Gross Confection Bar, Parlor Ice Cream, Primo, The Purple House, Central Provisions, Other Side Diner, Kim Rodgers, Rosemont, Big Tree Hospitality, Twist, A Little Suga, Leeward, Bixby Chocolates, Dutch’s, Mill Cove Baking, Sur Lie, Juliette Riscia, and Donuts & Hibiscus.

Place an order and make a donation on the Chaval e-commerce site. Pick-up is schedule for June 20th.

Bakers Against Racism is taking place in Mid-June in cities all around the world. As of Wednesday there are 2,400 participating chefs from 42 states, over 170 US cities & 15 countries taking part.

Update: The cookie boxes raised over $8,000 dollars for Black Lives Matter.

Streets to Dining Rooms

Two more streets in Portland have been turned into outdoor dining space for local restaurants.

  • The stretch of Middle Street from India to Franklin has been turned into a one way street with areas in front of Eventide and The Honey Paw, and in front of East Ender, Duckfat and Ribolita blocked off for tables.
  • Boothly Square businesses have gotten the approval to close off and use the streets and green space in the square for outdoor dining.

There’s a growing list of restaurants offering outdoor dining in addition to takeout and delivery.

Pic-nic-ette Series

Thompson’s Point has launched a series of outdoor events called Pic-nic-ette. Each one features a different set of mobile food business. The upcoming Pic-nic-ette taking place this Saturday June 13th and features food from Bog’s Bakery, Mainely Hot Dogs, and the Brulee Bike.

A $5 ticket on Eventbrite “gets you a soft drink at the bar, your own picnic space on the water” and a chance to try some of Maine’s mobile food vendors.

Interview with Cherie Scott from Mumbai to Maine

For their latest podcast, Femidish interviewed Cherie Scott, the founder of Mumbai to Maine.

Listen for the distant windchimes in this episode with Cherie Scott of Mumbai to Maine, a culinary blog and podcast, and known for her cooking classes featuring Indian cuisine. From pulling sachets of garam masala out of her college suitcase, to hosting the Maine Bicentennial Food Podcast, Cherie shares her lived experiences with Sandy and Hope on how food connects people across cultures.

License to Change

The Press Herald reports that some businesses are taking the opportunity to change their business license in order to offer outdoor dining.

Novare Res, Sagamore Hill Lounge, Tomaso’s Canteen and Rising Tide Brewing, which were all previously licensed as Class A lounges, have been issued restaurant licenses, allowing them to reopen before other bars and brew pubs. Bars, pubs and tasting rooms will be allowed to open as soon as July 1 unless the reopening plan is changed.

Little Woodfords Moving to Congress Street

Little Woodfords (websiteinstagramtwitterfacebook) announced that they’ll be moving their coffee shop from Woodfords Corner to 316A Congress Street by the end of the month.

that being said, our lease expires at the end of june and after trying wholeheartedly (and tirelessly) to negotiate with our landlords for months, there is simply no way we can afford the significant increase in rent and other costs they are requiring to occupy this space. please know we tried our very best to make this work, and that if we agreed to the new terms, we wouldn’t have lasted the summer.

now for the good news: over the past couple of weeks, when it seemed like we were going to have to close our doors forever, we found a space where little woodfords can call home. it is not in our current neighborhood, but you have our word we will create an additional coffee shop back in woodfords corner when the opportunity presents itself. we are excited, nervous, caffeinated and optimistic about what tomorrow will bring!

Little Woodfords was founded by Andrew and TJ Zarro in 2017.