Building on Munjoy Hill housing Hilltop Coffee is sold

BY Laurie Schreiber

Courtesy / F.O. Bailey Real Estate
Courtesy / F.O. Bailey Real Estate
The 5,552-square-foot mixed-use building at 100 Congress St. in Portland, which contains Hilltop Coffee and additional commercial and residential space, sold for $930,000.

The unsolicited purchase of a 5,552-square-foot mixed-use building at 100 Congress St. in Portland illustrates the desirability of the Munjoy Hill neighborhood at the east end of Portland's peninsula.
100 Congress LLC bought the property from Fixed Gear LLC for $930,000. Thomas Gadbois of F.O. Bailey Real Estate represented the buyer in the deal, which closed Dec. 14.
The building was built as a multi-family home, Gadbois said. It includes Hilltop Coffee along with another ground-floor commercial space and two apartments upstairs.
“It was an unlisted property that I found for my client from Connecticut after searching for a while,” he said.
Gadbois said he became acquainted with the buyer when the buyer contacted him regarding other properties Gadbois had listed.
“He thought I had a good pulse on what’s going on in the city,” he said. “So he wanted me to help him find investments here. His family visits Portland and they like it. They think there’s a lot of upside to Portland.”

The buyer saw the property as an added-value proposition, with some extra investment, in a neighborhood that’s seen lots of development in recent years, said Gadbois.
“Munjoy Hill is going crazy,” he said. “Everyone wants to be there. A lot of the big-tickets sales are people from out of state” or people from the region who want to be in Portland.
“I get calls from people all over the United States who specifically want to know about the Old Port or Munjoy Hill or the West End. But Munjoy Hill is the most desirable.”
As a mixed-use retail property, he said, 100 Congress St. is “a hidden gem. Those are pretty rare up there.”

The seller is a pair of couples who owned the building. One of the couples is Stella and Guy Hernandez, who own Hilltop Coffee.
The Hernandezes will continue to operate the Hilltop as tenants of the building’s new owner. But the pair of couples decided to sell the building because one partner had moved on and it seemed like an appropriate time to sell, said Stella Hernandez.
The Hernandezes moved to Portland in 2006 to be near family. They were both architects but were making transitions in their careers.
They and the other couple bought 100 Congress St. in 2006, and opened a restaurant there. In 2010, the Hernandezes bought Hilltop, which was operating at 90 Congress St.
Then, in 2013, the Hernandezes swapped the spaces for their two operations. With the addition of Neil Reiter as a partner, they moved the restaurant, Lolita, to 90 Congress St. And they moved the Hilltop to 100 Congress St.
Today they continue to run both businesses. And, they said, they have no intention of giving up the Hilltop.
“A coffee shop in a neighborhood like ours is a community hub,” said Stella. “People are here when we unlock the door in the morning. It feels like it’s part of the neighborhood and part of people’s day.”
That neighborhood feel has been the motivation of all of the couple’s enterprises since they landed in Portland, said Guy.
“We haven’t said, ‘What’s the next trend or the next fad?’ but ‘How would we like to be treated? Where would we like to meet up with friends?’” Guy said. “We’re not in the food or the coffee business. We’re in the hospitality business.”
Munjoy Hill is conducive to that neighborly feel, the couple said.
“We always wanted to live in this neighborhood,” said Guy. “We get people who come in, as customers, as delivery people, who say, ‘Oh, I grew up on the Hill,’ There’s a nice sense of history and continuity, and also a nice influx of new people who recognize the value of this community and this neighborhood.”