Lil Chippy on Washington Ave

A  fish and chips shop called Lil Chippy (instagram) is under construction at 52 Washington Ave in the space formerly occupied by Radici (and before that Terlingua).

Owners Ashley Wolf and William Durst hope to open Lil Chippy by the end of June. Fish and chips will be the signature dish at the 30-seat counter service restaurant but Durst and Wolf also plan for a menu that also features seafood-centric small plates, sandwiches and a selection of wine and beer.

Wolf is currently the GM of Liquid Riot and when the couple lived in Vermont she was the GM at Hen of the Woods in Waterbury. Durst also worked at Hen of the Woods, and was the original chef at Bistro Leluco is South Portland when it opened in 2023.

Supper Club Cocktail Lounge

Cocktail Mary (websiteinstagram) founder Isaac MacDougal along with Jake Bosma, Brecken Macdougal and Zach Myers and  have leased the former Guitar Grave space at 441 Congress Street where they plan to open the Supper Club Cocktail Lounge in early fall.

In creating Supper Club Cocktail Lounge we hope to add an anchor of community life in the heart of downtown Portland. Our aim is to become the “third place” for people living in Portland by offering hearty, affordable, locally sourced whole foods coupled with thoughtfully executed, delicious cocktails.

Our wine list will host producers from underrepresented communities making wine with sustainability in mind as well as a comprehensive champagne list for curious palettes and special occasions. Our beer menu will be composed of package and draft domestic and imported beer. Our cocktail menu will cover a wide range, with highballs that capture affordability and mindful ABVs, and martinis of every kind, for celebrations large and small. There will also be a variety of alcohol free options representing each of these categories.

The 2,400 sq ft space will have (see floor plan below) a main dining room with a 10-seat bar and banquette seating along the opposite wall with two large tables for communal seating in the front of the room. A curtain enclosure will enable the left side table to be a semiprivate space. An additional lounge area with its own 6-seat bar will be available for special events, private dinners, and overflow seating on busy nights. Outdoor seating is also part of the plan.

Isaac MacDougal grew up in Portland where his family owned and operated Vaughan Street Variety. He launched Cocktail Mary on November 8, 2019. Prior to returning to Maine he worked in the restaurant industry in NYC including time at Maialino, WD-50 and Diner. Bosma will serve as the beverage director for Supper Club, Brecken MacDougal as its operations manager and Myers as its contractor and facilities manager.

Supper Club is just starting to build out their team. Anyone interested in becoming part of “an organization that fosters community through breaking bread and social engagement” should contact them at info@supperclubcocktaillounge.com.

Duckfat Changes Hands

Rob Evans and Nancy Pugh have sold their restaurants Duckfat and Duckfat Frites Shack and retired from the restaurant industry. The team at Duckfat and overall philosophy of the business will remain the same. A 16-year veteran team member and front of house manager, Trevor Lilly, will be the overall GM of the business and the new owner of Duckfat is David Shryock. The sale was completed on April 30th.

We caught up with Pugh and Evans recently. They shared their pride in what they’d built at Duckfat and their confidence in the team’s ability to independently carry their vision for Duckfat in the coming years. In fact it was the commitment and skill of the Duckfat staff that made Evans and Pugh comfortable that company could continue on without them under new ownership.

Trevor Lilly shared some similar sentiments about the path forward for Duckfat,

The Duckfat team is passionate about building upon Rob and Nancy’s legacy. We couldn’t be more excited to be stewards of the collaborative, respectful, and dynamic culture they’ve fostered over the years. We look forward to continuing to cultivate approachable menus with a focus on consistency, technique, and a commitment to supporting the Maine food and beverage community. More than anything, our staff is thrilled to continue to provide delicious food and exceptional service to our friends in Portland – in our hearts, we see both locations as neighborhood spots.

Rob Evans and Nancy Pugh moved to Portland and took over Hugo’s in 2000 and for nearly a quarter of a century have been central figures in the Portland restaurant community. The couple launched Duckfat in 2005 and Duckfat Frites Shack on Washington Ave in 2018. Evans was a Food & Wine Best New Chef in 2004, and he won a James Beard award in the Best Chef North East category in 2009. A legion of their former employees at Hugo’s and Duckfat have gone on to make their own mark in the industry.

There’s a Lot Going On

Even when factoring in for the normal rapid base of developments in the Portland restaurant scene, there’s been a lot going on this spring. If you’re feeling like nearly every day there’s a new opening or news of another new business development, well that’s because that’s not far off from being the case.

To get caught-up and to see the scale of what’s been happening, here’s a summary of recent/upcoming opening:

And here’s a quick list of other business changes in Portland that have emerged in April and May:

Magissa to Open Thursday

Magissa (instagram), the new Greek restaurant in East Bayside, is set to open on Thursday. It’s located in the former Baharat space at the corner of Fox and Anderson Streets.

Owners Nancy Klosteridis and Emily Otero have held a series of preopening dinner services to tune up the restaurant and are now ready to open to the public. The restaurant will be open Thursday through Monday, 5 – 9 pm.

The menu (see below) includes modern renditions of Greek dishes with mezze, small plates, entrees and flexible gyro and salad options. Many of the dishes are gluten-free. Across the board the menu taps into the Klosteridis’ family recipes and taste memories as a guide. The bar program will include cocktails, draft wines by the glass/carafe, and draft beer. Low ABV and nonalcoholic drinks are also available.

Shown above are Tomato Martini (Ford’s gin, reyka, vermouth, tomato water), Mezze Plate with skordalia, briami, halloumi, taramosalata), Paros Chicken served with brussels sprouts, lemon rice and mustard veloute. The last two photos are of the Pavlova (rosemary, lemon, pistachio) and of the Baklava (pistachios, walnuts, almonds, orange, honey) on the dessert menu.

Five of Clubs Has Opened

The Five of Clubs (instagram) cocktail bar opened on Friday. It’s located on the ground floor of the 48-room Longfellow Hotel at 754 Congress Street in the West End.

The bar menu (see below) features a selection of cocktails, beer, cider, wine by the glass and bottle and a list of nonalcoholic drinks (see the functional cocktails section). Shown above is the Mas Vida (mezcal, aperol, coconut, lime) cocktail. Five of Clubs opens daily at 3 pm.

The food menu at Five of Clubs and the daytime Twinflower Cafe at the Longfellow Hotel will launch Thursday, May 23rd. You can see menus for the bar and for the cafe created by chef Wilson Suliveras on the Longfellow Hotel website. The Twinflower Cafe will be open 7 am – 2 pm.

Upcoming Food & Dining Events

MondayCrispy Gai is holding their 3rd Annual Dinner Together in celebration of AAPI Heritage Month. The meal will feature dishes by Mitr, Thanh Thanh 2, Little Brother, Banh Appetit, Crispy Gai sous chef Amadeus Florendo, and a special drink pairing by Matcha Mood.

TuesdayFriends & Family are holding a collaboration pop-up with Husky Boi serving a 5-course 1990s-inspired dinner.

WednesdayVagabundo is serving tortillas and tamales all made with local corn from Fairwinds Farm at a pop-up taking place at Root Wild.

Friday – The Other Side Diner is holding a Greek BBQ Night.

June 10-16Portland Wine Week is taking place.

June 17 – The 3rd Annual ChopTails Competition will be taking place at Batson River.

June 22 – The Great Falls Brewfest is taking place in Lewiston.

June 26 – Secret Supper (instagram) is holding a dinner in the Portland area.

June 29 – The 3rd Annual Mast Landing Wavy Days Festival is taking place.

July 25/26 – The Kneading Conference is taking place in Skowhegan.

August 3/4 – The Maine Wild Blueberry Weekend is taking place.

August 30September 1Maine Apple Camp is taking place.

September 20-22 – The Common Ground Fair will be taking place.

Boston Globe on Biddeford

The Boston Globe has published an article about Biddeford.

We tend to like Biddeford, Maine, more for what it’s not than what it is. The former mill town, along the Saco River, is not glossy, overly refined, touristy, or crowded. It doesn’t shout its charms.

But look close enough and you’ll discover a buzzing energy, a town that welcomes new ideas, and a community dependent on collaboration. Biddeford has been quietly, slowly rising from its ashes (many downtown buildings stood derelict and shuttered for years), emerging as an under-the-radar hot spot for makers, artists, chefs, and entrepreneurs. The result is a destination worth checking out.

The article mentions Magnus on Water, Palace Diner, Lorne, Fish and Whistle, Dizzy Bird, The Hamburger Stand, Time and Tide, Elements, Nibblesford, Banded Brewing, Sacred Profane, Lucky Pigeon Brewing, and Round Turn.

Mr. Tuna on Middle Street Now Open

The new Mr. Tuna (websitefacebookinstagram) at 83 Middle Street opened on Saturday. It’s open Friday/Saturday, 11 am – 9 pm and Sunday through Tuesday and Thursday, 11 am – 8 pm.

Owners Jordan Rubin and Marisa Lewiecki leased space in the new building at the corner of Middle and Franklin Streets in late 2022 and have built out a full services restaurant with an expanded menu. The space features a 15-seat sushi counter and banquet table seating in the front windows. Outdoor seating will be available shortly for takeout customers.

The new restaurant serve an updated Mr. Tuna menu (see below) with the addition of a full bar program of cocktails, sake, beer, wine. Shown above are scallop sashimi, blackbird’s delight maki roll, and avocado salad. This restaurant brings to life the vision for Mr. Tuna that Rubin has had since he launched the business as a food cart in 2017.

The Mr. Tuna sushi counter opened in the Public Market House in 2018. Rubin, Lewiecki, Sasha Brouillard, and Cyle Reynolds launched Crispy Gai in the summer of 2021. Rubin and Lewiecki launched Bar Futo on Fore Street in 2023.

Review of Rise Pizza & Pub

Today’s Maine Sunday Telegram includes a review of Rise Pizza & Pub in Cumberland.

…Served in a light, open space painted in vibrant yellows and oranges, chef/owner Rocco Marzilli’s pizzas run the gamut from traditional Italian-American pies to oddball options like Mexican street corn (a decent pie) or Buffalo chicken (a spicy, well-balanced riff on hot wings in pizza form). Don’t skip the Southwestern-style salmon cakes or the homemade s’mores ice cream sundae…