August 4, 2010

Big chill for ice house as infamous Portland landmark demolished

Elsewhere in the West End, crews finish tearing down the former Binga's Wingas, which was damaged by fire in 2008.

By Tom Bell
Staff Writer

PORTLAND — Work crews today will finish demolishing the building in the West End that once housed one of Portland's most visible and notorious bars.

click image to enlarge

Popeye’s Ice House bar, later known simply as the Ice House, stands on the corner of Bracket and York streets in Portland 10 years ago. It was torn down on Tuesday and will be replaced by a Mexican restaurant, said owner Tod Dana.

2000 Press Herald photo

click image to enlarge

A plywood cutout of the cartoon character is all that remains of the former Popeye’s Ice House bar in Portland on Tuesday. The owners had closed the tavern in 2008.

John Ewing/Staff Photographer

The Ice House, known previously as Popeye's, was the scene of a stabbing in 2007. The owners closed the tavern in 2008 after dropping their appeal of the city's decision to deny their liquor license.

The tavern's most famous feature, visible from the Casco Bay Bridge and the "Million Dollar Bridge" before it, was the tail of an airplane sticking out of the roof.

The building has been boarded up since it was damaged by a fire two years ago. Tod Dana, who bought the building, plans to open a Mexican restaurant on the lot, at 231 York St.

Dana owns the high-end furniture gallery Asia West and El Rayo Taqueria, a Mexican restaurant at 101 York St.

Construction will begin immediately, said Steve Keltonic, project manager for the Thaxter Co., which is demolishing the old building and constructing the new one.

It will take eight to 10 months to complete the project, he said Tuesday while watching the demolition crew level the old building.

A family restaurant will be a huge improvement for the neighborhood, said City Councilor David Marshall, who represents the West End. Residents at a neighborhood meeting were enthusiastic about the project, he said. "It's a very positive investment."

Bob Collins, 52, a Brackett Street resident, said the bar was a source of problems for the neighborhood and he is glad it will be replaced by the restaurant.

"This is good news, real good news," he said.

Also on Tuesday, work crews finished demolishing another blighted building in the West End – the former Binga's Wingas restaurant building at Bramhall Square. Peter Bass and Elizabeth Trice plan to build a two-story office building that will offer shared space to tenants.

There will be a mix of common desks and meeting rooms, as well as dedicated desks and offices, Bass said.

Shared office space – known as "co-working" – is the next step for independent workers who are now working at home or in cafes on laptop computers, Bass said.

A fire two years ago damaged the restaurant, which has since re-emerged as Binga's Stadium Smokehouse and Sports Bar at 77 Free St.


Staff Writer Tom Bell can be contacted at 791-6369 or at:


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