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February 24, 2023

Foodie fest: Laying the table for Maine Restaurant Week

pastries Courtesy / Bixby Chocolate Cafe Bixby Chocolate Cafe in Waterville plans to offer pastries and other Maine Restaurant Week. specials during the festival, which runs from March 1-12. Shown here are chocolate scones made with Bixby's house-made chocolate chips.
Over 15 years, Maine Restaurant Week has had an estimated economic impact of $30 million, and has donated more than $75,000 to the nonprofit Preble Street.
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In a city full of foodies in a state that's seen high rankings and numerous awards for chefs and eateries, excitement is brewing for the 15th edition of Maine Restaurant Week.

The event will actually cover the better part of two weeks, from March 1-12. 

"This event is the original winter business booster for local restaurants," says an announcement on the event website. "We appreciate everyone for getting involved as a restaurant owner, manager, or customer who enjoys dining out. Knowing your dollars spent during winter are more important than ever is a good feeling."

The annual event was the brainchild of Gillian and Jim Britt, owners of public relations firm gBritt PR, who were looking for a solution for their restaurant clients that faced challenges getting through the winter slump in business every year.

The first Maine Restaurant Week was held in March 2009. Over the years, the event has an estimated economic impact of more than $30 million, and has donated more than $75,000 to Preble Street, a Portland-based nonprofit.

Gillian Britt, who is also the executive editor of the "Eat Drink Lucky" newsletter, told Mainebiz that several restaurants are participating for the first time this year, with more signing up ahead of opening day.

"More are signing up still, restaurant participation is strong, and customers are excited," she said.

Participating businesses include South Portland's SoPo Seafood market and raw bar, which will offer a $23 menu with a choice of four dishes from oysters to Jamaican stew.

"We love the opportunity to connect to our community," said Lucas Myers, the company's co-founder and operations director. "We see a lot of new faces during restaurant week."

And in Waterville, Bixby Chocolate Cafe's Maine Restaurant Week specials include $5 for a house-made chocolate pastry and coffee drink combo.

"We are so excited," owner Kate McAleer said.

Statewide reach

Although two dozen restaurants are within the Forest City, it's far from a Portland-only event, with 70 restaurants in all participating from Wells to Presque Isle. Participating locations either offer a special or a three-course menu from $25 to $55. Almost all offer vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options. 

Several special events will highlight the event.

The Incredible Breakfast Cook-off jumpstarts the lineup from 7 to 9 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 28, at Sea Dog Brewing Co., 725 Broadway, South Portland. Competing for the crown are Verbena, Ruby's West End, Chaval, Bowdoin Dining Services, T.O.P. Dog, the Black Tie Co., Salt Yard, Sea Glass, the Harrasseeket Inn, the Maker's Galley, and the host, Sea Dog.

The morning show hosts WBLM's Captain and Celeste are on board to broadcast live from the event. Order tickets and celebrate the kick-off to Maine Restaurant Week in style. Ticket proceeds benefit Preble Street.

Coffee also features prominently, with several locations creating coffee-infused food and drinks for CRAVE, and Coffee By Design's launch of a gin barrel-aged coffee and cupping event on Diamond Street on March 12.

Maine Restaurant Week has been an event that gives back to the community as well. From Portland's Share Our Strength Taste of the Nation fundraising dinners, Harvest on the Harbor, to Preble Street, some of the proceeds benefit those in need. 

More information

Find out more about Maine Restaurant week here.

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