Ben Berman, one of the original co-owners of Mainely Burgers, has been written up in the Washington Post for the home-based pizza service he’s running in his neighborhood in Philadelphia.
The pandemic had become more dire by the summer, and he was wondering how he could help people in need and boost the spirits of his neighbors, many of whom were also staying in their apartments.
“I was talking to my girlfriend, and she suggested that pizza was the way to do it,” said Berman, 28. “So I decided to make free cheese pizzas and lower them out my window to anyone who wanted one, with a suggestion that they make a donation to charities that help people who are hungry or homeless.”
“I thought, ‘If I can make people smile by dropping pizzas down to them from my apartment, why not?’ ” he added.
The Portland Phoenix has published an article about dining out, customers attitudes, and the pandemic.
I also began to understand the new layer of frustration our hospitality folks are experiencing. There’s an element of survivors’ guilt in acknowledging they have jobs and others don’t. There’s also the extra work, for less money, involved in opening and closing a dining room with a skeleton crew. Servers are also in fear for their own health and the health of those they love.
Maine Public has aired a report on how Maine restaurants are building out enhanced outdoor dining, and engaging in other programs to make it through the Covid winter.
The COVID-19 pandemic has hit Maine’s hospitality industry harder than any other sector. With cold weather taking its grip on 2021 and the surging virus keeping people at home, job losses are accelerating, particularly in the food-service sector. Still, many of Maine’s chefs and restaurant owners continue to find new ways to stay open through the winter.
The Portland Phoenix has published an article about Blackstones, a gay bar in Longfellow Square.
The coronavirus pandemic has left many local bar owners without a path forward, and reality set in for Blackstones manager Carl Currie last month.
Currie had just come out of a staff meeting with bar owner Matt Pekins where they decided they would have to ask the community for money to stay afloat until spring.
He said the decision was a difficult one that he and Pekins tried to avoid, and that it made him uncomfortable. But less than two weeks after he created a GoFundMe page asking neighbors to help save Portland’s last gay bar, they had raised enough in pledges to survive the winter.
A new brewery called Belleflower Brewing (website, facebook, instagram) has taken over the former Brewery Extrava space in East Bayside. Owners Zach Page, Melissa Page, Nick Bonadies and Katie Bonadies plan on launching later this year producing a line-up of hoppy beers and stouts to start.
As reported by Don Littlefield, Zach Page is the former head brewer at Lone Pine Brewing, and Nick Bonadies is a former VP at Trillium. Prior to joining Lone Pine, Page was the head of brewing operations at Trillium.
They’re currently in the process of going through licensing for Belleflower and will share more details about when they plan to open when they’re able. In the meantime follow them on instagram and keep your eyes on 66 Cove Street to keep apprised of their progress.
A new Portland-based company called Huga (website, facebook, instagram) is developing a battery-powered heated seat cushion. Founders Jocelyn Olsen and Colin Greig started the company to help their “favorite restaurants get through the colder months and keep their patios open.”
The name of the company comes from the Danish word hygge that is a concept that Wikipedia describes as meaning “coziness and comfortable conviviality with feelings of wellness and contentment”.
Some prototypes have been in use at Three of Strong, and I’ve been beta testing the product as well. It has certainly made outdoor dining during cooler winter days more comfortable.
Olsen and Greig are planning to commercially launch the product in late January with a retail price of $124.99. There’s a form on the Huga website to get on their mailing list about the launch.
Ryan Carey, owner of Noble Barbecue and Fire & Co, along with Sam McNutt are launching Sugar High Donuts (instagram).
Carey and McNutt have developed four initial flavors: Strawberry Shortcake, Key Lime Pie, Cookies and Cream and Cinnamon Sugar. On Wednesday they’ll be launching the business with Cookies and Cream as their featured flavor of the day. The donuts will be for sale at Noble Barbecue and at Rising Tide. A bag of 10 mini donuts is priced at $8.
Sugar High hopes to wholesale their donuts to local coffee shops, markets and breweries.
Hunt and Alpine co-owners Andrew and Briana Volk were interviewed by Inside Hook about how their cocktail bar has had to change and adapt during the Covid pandemic.
However, Volk realized that even the flintiest of Mainers wouldn’t want to sit outdoors in January, February and March. After New Year’s, the business contracted to a 50-square-foot retail shop inside the bar. Within, shoppers can browse refrigerated cocktails to go in addition to wine, tinned fish, prepared foods, branded clothing and even a pretzel puzzle. Volk also plans to make deliveries in Portland, and possibly to nearby ski areas.
Mainebiz has published the result of an Eat Drink Lucky survey of 2,010 restaurant patrons.
In the latest report shared with Mainebiz, more than one out of four respondents (27.7%) said they have resumed dining inside, while close to three out of four (72.8%) said they have not.
Of those who had been eating outdoors, only 21.6% of those said they would continue doing so now that the weather has gotten colder, while 45% said they would not and 34.7% said they are not eating out at all.
The Maine Sunday Telegram has published about the high demand at Maine food pantries.
The number of Mainers struggling to feed their families and turning to food pantries for help is rising to new heights as coronavirus cases spike and the state faces its worst loss of jobs in any recession in 50 years.
Food pantry directors say they have stockpiled enough food to meet the need for now, but the volunteer efforts are straining and more federal relief will be needed to address poverty and hunger as the pandemic wears on.
“There is a desperate need out there,” said Don Bisson, executive director of the Biddeford Food Pantry, where there has been a 25 percent increase in clients since this time last year.