Saturday, March 8, 2014
You'll notice the black and bulky antique typewriters as soon as you enter LFK, the newish bar/restaurant at 188 State St. in Portland. They offer a fun tip of the cap to the days when classic poems and novels poured forth from the minds of geniuses one ... clunky ... key ... stroke ... at ... a ... time.
The typewriters are way cool, especially in a space that most recently was a book store. But by far the coolest thing you'll find at LFK, which stands for Longfellow Fellowship of Knights, is something you may not notice unless you take a seat at the wooden bar: the "typewriter" keys inserted into the bar that spell out an Emily Dickinson poem.
Start at the left end of the 12-seat bar and you'll be able to begin reading "After the great pain, a formal feeling comes. The nerves sit ceremonious, like tombs ..."
The bar was custom-made with the shout out to Dickinson, and though LFK has only been open for a month, reps from the Emily Dickinson Museum are already planning a visit in the fall.
If you're wondering about the name, it was a collective decision, according to owner Johnny Lomba. The bar/restaurant goes by the simple initials, which are presented on the large window looking out at State Street, so people can "interpret them any way they want," says Lomba, former owner of the still-missed The Skinny.
Lomba runs eight to 10 beers on tap, including locals like Allagash Black, Geary's Summer, and selections from Oxbow Brewing and Bunker Brewing. You can also get Bulljagger, Sixpoint, Ballantine, Miller High Life, Angry Orchard Crisp Apple Cider and more in bottles and cans. There's also a smallish selection of wines and a full bar.
For eats, try comfort food like bacon-wrapped meatloaf ($12), pork and beans ($10), an LFK burger ($9) or tempeh tacos ($9). Side choices include mac & cheese ($5), roasted beet salad ($7) and creamed spinach ($5).
You can eat and drink at the bar or at one of the large tables.
"The way it's set up is big communal tables so people come in and sit with two or maybe six people they don't know,"Lomba says. "And that's what's been happening."
Other tips of the cap to words at LFK come from the many books shelved around the space that are for customers to read or purchase (anyone is welcome to contribute to the collection) and Lomba's typewriters. "I make less mistakes on that," he says pointing to one positioned on a desk, "than on my computer."
"People use the typewriters every night," Lomba says, "and they've been leaving some cool writings."
Some of those may be shared in future reading nights LFK has planned. The space may also collaborate with One Longfellow Square on events and will be participating in First Friday Art Walk. Coming up on June 30, LFK will host a reading of Faulkner works in conjunction with the Portland Performing Arts Festival.
You won't find music cranked up at LFK for two reasons: Lomba wants his clientele to be able to socialize and the retro jukebox still has a "Coming Soon" sign on it.
When it does get working, Lomba plans to feature plenty of early 45s on the box, like some Nina Simone, Connie Francis, The Jive Bombers, Hank Williams and Elvis.
Shannon Bryan, content producer for MaineToday Media, likes exploring Maine - from mattress races to cardboard boats, she's into the weird stuff.
Karen Beaudoin, online editor for MaineToday Media, likes knowing the important things - like who's just opened their deck for a sunny afternoon beer and what Portland's eclectic set of street performers are up to.