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September 1, 2023

Friday Food Insider: Maine says hello and goodbye to local restaurants

Photo / Alexis Wells Rosella’s founders, beverage director TJ Provenzano, left, and chef Jeff Miller on opening night.

In the past few years, Maine has seen many restaurants come and go. Let’s take a trip down memory lane and review some Maine restaurants that have come to the scene and others we've said goodbye to.


Leading the list are the newest openings Mainebiz covered in the Friday Food Insider.

The Kennebunkport Resort Collection partnered with New York City’s sushi restaurant Rosella NYC to open its second restaurant in the Grand Hotel, bringing the renowned restaurant’s innovative approach to Japanese cuisine to 1 Chase Hill Road in Kennebunk.
This restaurant is the first and only upscale sushi and omakase concept in the area. Featuring a selection of Rosella’s dishes, seasonal picks and exclusive new items, the menu is complemented by a selection of domestic wine, small-batch sake and a focused cocktail list.

Photo / Alexis Wells
Pictured here is Rococo's top-selling flavor Goat Cheese Blackberry Chambord.

Another opening in Kennebunk is Rococo Ice Cream, a Kennebunk fan favorite, which has moved from its previous Dock Square location to a new flagship scoop shop in Kennebunk’s Lower Village at 8 Western Ave. The new location opened at the beginning of June and makes the perfect spot to drop in and get some ice cream after a meal at one of Kennebunk’s restaurants. Rococo Ice Cream has opened a first-of-its-kind dessert bar next door. It is open from mid-afternoon to 11 p.m.

The last new restaurant that has been included in the Insider is Nico’s Italian Ice & Gelato in Naples. The shop’s menu boasts a rotating selection of flavors, from mango and blue raspberry to more unique flavors like “tiger’s blood,” watermelon margarita and strawberry guava. The gelato is made by an Italian-owned company called GS Gelato.What sets Nico’s apart are fun specialty offerings such as Churro a la Mode, Gelato Waffle Nachos and Gelato or Italian Ice Flights, which feature six scoops of the customer’s choice.

Other openings

Tacos la Poblanita opened at 57 Bridge St. in Westbrook. It launched as a food truck in 2019 and moved into the Maine Mall in 2022. Its menu includes tacos, enchiladas, burritos and quesadillas. The Westbrook location opened in March and still operates its venue in the mall.

Photo / Peter Van Allen
Papi Portland

Lenora, at 2 Portland Square, opened on Feb. 6 in what had been Walter’s, a fine dining restaurant that closed in May 2019. The upscale Mexican restaurant is open from breakfast to late evening. 

Papi Portland, a Puerto Rican-inspired bar and restaurant, opened at 18 Exchange St. on March 14. If you are looking to try a beef empanada, churrasco (skirt steak, yuca hash, pickled mango, blistered shishito, leek puree), or yuca fries, this is the spot to check out.

Paper City BBQ, at 855 Main St. in Westbrook, opened its doors in November 2022. It specializes in smoked meats and local beer and also serves more than 50 whiskeys.

Casa Jalisco, is a family-owned and operated Mexican restaurant, which opened in September 2022 and is located at 205 High St., in Ellsworth.

Brickyard Hollow Brewing, opened several new locations including 149 Maine St. in Brunswick, 310 ME-27 in Stratton-Eustis, 437 Lewiston Road in New Gloucester and 123 Madison Ave in Yarmouth. Owner Brad Moll is also expanding to 180 Main St. in Biddeford.

Courtesy / Catherine Dzilenski
Bar Futo's menu includes yakitori-style skewers and kakigori (Japanese shaved ice).

Bar Futo, a Japanese-inspired restaurant, took over the space at 425 Fore St. in the Old Port that had been occupied by Five Guys Burgers & Fries. The restaurant opened in December 2022.

Twelve opened in July 2022 in Building 12 of the old Portland Co. site. The restaurant has modern New England cuisine including a version of the lobster roll, which made Esquire’s list for its “fanciest lobster roll ever.”

Smoke BBQ, at 58 York St. in Kennebunk, is fairly new to the Maine barbecue scene, opening in November 2022. This spot is 100% authentic wood-fired barbecue and the meats are smoked up 16 hours.

Sea Dog Brewing Co. opened in the former Famous Dave’s restaurant space at Cabela’s Plaza, right off I-95 in Scarborough. The spot opened in December 2022.

Bread & Friends is a Portland-based bakery concept specializing in naturally leavened, whole grain bread, inventive and nostalgic pastries, as well as pickles, jams, butter and spreads. The bakery opened in April.

Bixby Chocolate, a Rockland maker of organic chocolate bars opened its first chocolate café and retail shop in Waterville in December 2022 at the Paul J. Schupf Art Center at 93 Main St.

KPort Bagel, at 2 Morning Walk Lane in Kennebunk, opened in March and features sourdough bagels.

Ferris BBQ, at 79 Parsons St. in Presque Isle, is the first barbecue restaurant in the area. It opened in February.


While the pandemic resulted in a crisis for the restaurant industry in 2020, things eased somewhat in 2021 though restaurants also faced challenges like the workforce shortages and supply chain issues. Those issues resulted in longer wait lines, fewer restaurants open in busy tourist enclaves and shortages of ingredients.

Many patrons still see longer wait times, fewer tables, or their favorite establishments have closed due to rising costs due to inflation and the need for more workers.

Let’s take a moment for those restaurants we said goodbye to in recent months.

Sea Dog Brewing Co. announced on April 12 that it planned to close one of its two South Portland locations. The Maine-based restaurant chain closed the site at 725 Broadway in South Portland. Fred Forsley, co-founder and partner of Sea Dog Brewing, told Mainebiz, “It was a very difficult decision. The increased costs in the restaurant business made it hard for us to make money. We appreciate the support from other businesses and the community.”

Photo / Alexis Wells
The former Rivalries space.

In February, Rivalries owners Amy and Lance Meader announced on the website that the Portland location had closed permanently. “With mixed emotions, we share the news that we have sold our Rivalries Portland location. With heartfelt appreciation, we owe our staff and many guests over the years a huge thank you for making Rivalries Portland what it was. We consider so many people a part of the Rivalries family.”
Rwanda Bean Co., shut down its retail presence at Thompson’s Point on May 1, but maintained its roastery, production and wholesale operations at the location.
The owners of Portland’s TIQA Mediterranean restaurant inside the Courtyard by Marriott hotel announced in April that they planned to close. “Over the past three years, since COVID started, we have faced an exhausting ever-changing set of dynamics that we have yet to figure out how best to handle — because of this — we have decided to close TIQA and consider all possible future options,” Deen and Carol Haleem said in a Facebook post.
In March an Old Port staple, Bull Feeney’s pub on Fore Street, closed its doors. The 21-year-old establishment was named in honor of the movie director John Ford, who grew up in Portland and received the name “Bull” during his time on the Portland High School football team.
Pat’s Pizza, which has several restaurants all over the state closed its pizza joint on Market Street in Portland in April. That location had been open for 14 years.
Another Portland staple the Old Port Tavern on Moulton Street closed at the end of 2022 after 50 years in the Old Port. New Year’s Eve was the last day of business.
Little Woodfords, a coffee shop formally at 316 Congress St. in  Portland announced in January that it would be shutting down. In an Instagram post, the shop thanked customers for being loyal. “We could continue on as-is, but deep down we know it is time to say farewell to Little Woodfords as it currently exists,”  the post stated. “So much has changed in the hospitality industry over the past few years, and it has become something so different from what we set out to do.”
The popular restaurant Blast From the Past Too in Scarborough permanently closed on Dec. 18. The 50’s inspired diner followed the original restaurant in Waterboro, which closed in 2020.
Blue Spoon, a restaurant in Munjoy Hill, closed its doors in April and planned to relocate to midcoast Maine.
The New Moon Restaurant, at 17 Pepperell Square in Saco, announced in March that the restaurant would be closed till further notice. During the first week of July, the owners announced on social media that the restaurant was being sold and the owners were looking for a new spot to open. “New Moon Patrons, by now you’ve likely seen the building is for sale,”  the post stated. “We are sorry we haven’t put out a post giving you more details until now because we haven’t known them ourselves. But what we can tell you is the business is being retained and we are looking for new spots to make our way back to you! This isn’t goodbye forever, just for now.”
A popular Yarmouth bakery Maples closed its doors in March. Owner Robin Ray opened a new location in New Gloucester in April. She cited in a social media post that with the new location opening, she could not keep up with the demand that both bakeries would require.
And last but certainly not least, on our goodbye tour is Pho Huong, a locally owned family restaurant dedicated to serving fresh authentic Vietnamese food announced through social media it would be closing its restaurant at 28 Monument Square in Portland. Their last day of business was April 21.

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