Restaurant Bubble?

Today’s Maine Sunday Telegram examines whether the Portland restaurant industry is a bubble about to burst.

“Portland was undergoing a little restaurant boom,” Guy Hernandez recalls, “and people were already saying that there were too many restaurants in the city.”

Things haven’t changed much in the past 13 years. Every year, it seems, locals have worried about a pending “restaurant bubble” that, when it bursts, will result in restaurants and bars furiously closing their doors like a stack of dominoes. This year was particularly troubling to city residents who saw a lot of favorites close – places like Silly’s, Lolita, Walter’s, Vignola Cinque Terre, Local Sprouts Cafe, the Irish pub Brian Boru and Andy’s Old Port Tavern. And yet, roughly twice as many other restaurants and bars have opened to take their place. This was the year we welcomed Flood’s, Gross Confection Bar, CBG, Other Side Diner, Royale Lunch Bar, Maiz, Bird & Co, two cider houses, a whiskey bar, a cocktail bar and several smaller eateries.

For a little historical perspective see this PFM post in 2010 about a 1977 Maine Times article. It’s so funny to think anyone would think Portland had reached a tipping in 1977. I suspect they’ll feel the same way about our 2019 concerns from the perspective of the mid 21st Century.

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