Krista Kern Desjarlais, chef-owner of Bresca at 111 Middle St. in Portland is a finalist for Best Chef in the Northeast. The announcement came on Monday, March 21, from the James Beard Foundation. Desjarlais was the only Maine chef to make it to the finals; Demos Regas of Emilitsa, 547 Congress St., in Portland, was a semifinalist. Sam Hayward and his Fore Street restaurant were national semifinalists for Outstanding Chef and Outstanding Restaurant, respectively, but are not finalists. Winners will be announced May 9 in New York.

Four Maine restaurants received the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Neighbor Award. The award honors chefs and restaurateurs for giving back to their communities through charity events and neighborhood efforts. The winners are Gritty McDuff’s Brewing Co. and RiRa Irish Pub in Portland, Azure Cafe in Freeport, and King Eider’s Pub in Damariscotta.

Food Factory Miyake, at 129 Spring St. in Portland, plans to move to the space formerly occupied by Utopia Furniture at 468 Fore St. According to the restaurant and liquor license application submitted to the City Council, the restaurant will be open seven days a week from noon to 10 p.m., will have 42 seats and serve wine and beer. Chef and owner Masa Miyake also owns Pai Men Miyake at 188 State St.  

According to documents filed with the Portland City Council, Eric Martin, new owner of Federal Spice Bistro at 225 Federal St., has applied for a beer and wine license and outside seating. And Bonobo Pizza at 46 Pine St. has new owners, Louise Murphy and Denise Compton.

Saeng Thai Restaurant, 267 Saint John St. in Portland, will become Top Thai Restaurant and is expected to open soon under new ownership. Yongyuth Todsanit will take over the current lease.

Henry VIII sandwich shop at 15 Monument Square in Portland will close at the end of the month. 

VENUE American Grille, 865 Forest Ave. has also closed. The restaurant, which moved to Portland from Freeport, closed Feb. 28 after investment partners withdrew. According to their website, owners Gar Roper and Kevin Roper would like to reopen the music venue with the help of a new partner or investor.

Freeport Factory Stage will open in the former VENUE space at 5 Depot St. in Freeport. Owners Julie and Bud George-Carlson plan to open in May. The 75-seat venue will be a black box theater showing cabaret-style shows and plays. The space will be the year-round home of the Freeport Shakespeare Festival and will serve concessions, beer, wine and beverages before performances and during intermission.

The 4th annual Flavors of Freeport food festival will begin Friday, March 25, with the Chef’s Signature Series and Libations Sensations Gala. The event will take place at the Hilton Garden Inn Ballroom, 5 Park St., from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Some of Freeport’s restaurants will offer food samples and local purveyors will offer wine, beer and spirits tastings. Tickets are $25 per person.

In Brunswick, Fat Boy Drive In at 111 Bath Road opened for the season on March 17.

Captain Daniel Stone Inn’s No. 10 Water Restaurant will hold a spring fusion wine dinner on Thursday, April 7 at 6 p.m. The event is hosted by Pine State Beverage Co. and includes a five-course meal with Italian, Chilean and California wine pairings. The dinner is $50 per person and excludes tax and gratuity.

The CapeSoPo Online Market will take a four week break until April 28 to get ready for the spring, summer and fall growing season. The farmers at Jordan‘s, Alewive’s Brook and Green Spark farms will return on April 28 to fill customer’s online orders on a weekly schedule.

Maine Maple Sunday is March 27. For a list of participating farms, visit

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or [email protected]

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