In 1977 the Maine Times published an article entitled “Why are so many restaurants opening in Portland and will it ever end?” According to the article,
Ten years ago , Portland was practically without restaurants. The Roma . . . was almost alone in trying to serve food that was not pre-portioned and pre-packaged. Then came the Gaslight on Exchange Street, then the Old Port Tavern and then it seemed to explode.
Author Mark Mogensen asked several restauranteurs about whether a “saturation point” had been reached—quite ironic given the ever growing number of eateries to be found in the city in 2010.
Opinions ranged from “it’s fast approaching” from the owner of the Hollow Reed* to “I think the saturation point has been reached” from Charles McGee, co-owner of the Old Port Tavern.
I wonder what they would say about the Portland restaurant scene of today?
The Maine Times article also includes the earliest reference I’ve ever seen to the “most restaurants per capita” stat.
“Christ there’s a lot of them” [Portland license inspector Ed] Newbegin said. From a survey, Newbegin said he learned that “Portland Maine, per capita, has the highest population of restaurants in the U.S.”
*Reportedly Portland’s first vegetarian restaurant.