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November 1, 2023

Portland's Grill Room & Bar has reopened after a major fire in June

Less than five months after a major fire damaged the Grill Room & Bar in the Old Port district of Portland, chef and owner Harding Lee Smith has reopened the restaurant.

The Grill Room, at 84 Exchange St., served dinner Saturday after announcing earlier in the day on social media that “it would be back open for business." The eatery is now open Tuesday and Wednesday from 4-9 p.m. and Thursday through Saturday from 4-10 p.m.

A June 11 blaze destroyed much of the building that houses the Grill Room and an adjacent Indian-cuisine restaurant, Tandoor. Portland Fire Department crews responded around 10:20 p.m. that night and discovered that the fire was coming from the roof in the rear of the building. No injuries were reported. The fire was ruled as accidental, originating from cooking sources and extending into the ventilation system.

Courtesy / Portland Fire Department
A Portland Fire Department photo shows the June 11 fire that damaged the Grill Room & Bar in the city's Old Port district.

The following morning, a social media post from the Grill Room said the restaurant would be closed until further notice while the damage was assessed. "Despite the setback, we are fully committed to rebuilding and bouncing back stronger," it said.

In the past few months several businesses throughout Maine have made similar plans to rebuild after major fires. Among those rising from the ashes are Penobscot McCrum, Gifford's Ice Cream, Tiny Homes of Maine in Houlton and the Port Clyde General Store.

Next door to the Grill Room, at 86 Exchange St., the former storefront of watch shop Swiss Time is expected to become part of the restaurant when renovations are finished. Swiss Time, which had been a fixture on Exchange Street since 1994, closed in December.

The Grill Room & Bar opened its doors in 2008. The “urban steakhouse” features a wood-fired grill that cooks up local steaks and seafood. Its sister restaurants are the Corner Room, a few blocks away on Exchange Street; the Front Room, on Portland's Munjoy Hill; and the Mountain Room, at the Sunday River ski resort. All the "rooms," as they are called, are owned and operated by Smith.

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