Wednesday, April 23, 2014
A popular locally-owned food stand in Portland’s Public Market House plans to open a second location at the Maine Mall in South Portland.
On or around Sept. 1, Kamasouptra intends to officially open in the Maine Mall food court in the location previously occupied by Taco Bell. With a robust roster of national retailers and chain restaurants, the Maine Mall’s list of Maine-based food purveyors will grow to two, including Amato’s, once Kamasouptra opens.
Known for its emphasis on vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free soups, Kamasouptra opened in the Public Market House in 2010. The restaurant also offers a smaller selection of seafood and meat-based soups.
Kamasouptra has hired seven new employees to staff the Maine Mall location.
“We’ll be prepared for an increase in sales and volume,” said Joe Jerome, who owns the business with his brother, Mike Jerome, sister, Sarah Jerome, and Drew Kinney.
“Soup is a great use for a food court,” said the Maine Mall’s General Manager Craig Gorris. “We thought that would be a big hit there because it’s unique and the product is fantastic.”
While serving soup at the weekly farmers market in Yarmouth, a Kamasouptra representative heard that the Maine Mall was looking to attract more locally-owned businesses.
“We thought we’d try it,” said Jerome. “We thought we’d try and encourage more people to come into the mall and turn it more into a local spot.”
Gorris said, “we’re always looking for the highest and best use for the mall, and whether that’s a local retailer or national retailer that doesn’t matter to us. It would be nice to have more local if that is the highest and best use.”
Last summer the Maine Mall worked with the Maine Crafts Association to create a vendor area featuring Maine artisans. This summer the mall began hosting a farmers market in the parking lot on Tuesdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Kamasouptra plans to offer 12 soups daily, which will change frequently, at the mall location.
It will continue to offer a choice of either a fresh baked wheat roll or gluten-free roll with each soup. In addition, Kamasouptra offers scratch-made salads, lemonade, limeade and iced tea. For dessert, it sells whoopie pies and cupcakes produced by local bakeries.
Typical vegan soup offerings include chili, gazpacho, minestrone and curried vegetable & lentil. Vegetarian choices include Sebago beer and cheddar, vichysoisse and loaded baked potato. Kamasouptra frequently serves New England clam chowder and other seafood soups. All those soups are gluten-free, with the exception of the chowder and the beer and cheddar soup.
In both 2011 and 2012 the soup shop won the Portland Phoenix’s readers poll award for best soup.
The company makes all its soups at Yarmouth’s hydro-powered Sparhawk Mill. Working with distributors Native Maine and Sysco, Kamasouptra sells wholesale to a number of other restaurants in northern New England.
Yet Jerome said “our focus remains on retail.”
The company is currently growing its own tomatoes and herbs on land in North Yarmouth that it calls Farmasouptra.
“We have a lot of tomato-based soups, and we want to process our own tomatoes,” Jerome said.
Customers should also look for the addition of new soup flavors at both the Maine Mall and Public Market House locations.
Jerome said, “we have some new chefs in Yarmouth and they’re enthusiastic about trying new things.”
Meredith Goad has harvested oysters on the Chesapeake Bay, eaten reindeer in Finland and sipped hot chai in the Himalayas. She writes the weekly Soup to Nuts column and enjoys a good cocktail.