FAIRFIELD — Lovers of exotic food in central Maine can enjoy pad Thai noodles, Japanese maki rolls, Chinese dumplings, Saigon spicy noodles from Vietnam and Korean okdol-bibimbab – rice and marinated vegetables in a sizzling stone pot with a fried egg on top and chili paste.

What they can’t get is fiery chicken vindaloo curry, aloo tikki fried spiced vegetables and samosas, a savory pastry – food from India.

Until now.

Iqbal Hossan, a 32-year-old entrepreneur from Bangladesh who owns the Dancing Elephant restaurant in Westbrook, plans to open Dancing Elephant II on Main Street in October in the former Kennebec Cafe on Main Street downtown.

“We have a lot of customers who go to the Westbrook location and the Portland location we had, and people asked me to open in the Waterville area,” Hossan said. “They say, ‘We really like your food. We want you to come there.’ “

Hossan said he took his customers’ advice, visited the Waterville area and found the Kennebec Cafe building – with three storefronts and two apartments on the second floor, which he plans to renovate.


Town Manager Joshua Reny said the purchase of the building and plans for a restaurant are welcome news in Fairfield.

“It’s incremental progress in revitalizing the downtown and one more step in the right direction,” Reny said. “We have a new business coming into town, and the owners will be rehabilitating the building, doing some work to the outside and renovating the interior. That’s all good news.”

The Fairfield Town Council approved the restaurant’s liquor license last week. Now, Hossan said, he needs to finish renovations to the building to secure his occupancy permit. Real estate agent Tom Munson, who is handling the purchase-and-sale agreement, said they will close on the property Friday.

“Thank you for endeavoring to open up in our town. I’m thrilled,” council Chairman Robert Sezak said before the unanimous vote to approve the liquor license. “Curry up and take the vote,” he punned.

Hossan said he hopes to rent the renovated storefronts to other businesses.

Reny said the Dancing Elephant II will be an added attraction to downtown, which now is anchored by the revitalized Gerald Hotel building on Main Street. Meridian’s, a beer, food and wine shop, opened in the former hotel in June. A $6.5 million renovation project has restored the building to much of its original appearance while adding modern conveniences.


The store, which occupies the only retail space in the remodeled hotel, shares the building with a 28-unit apartment complex for income-eligible people over 55. It’s one of the final pieces in the revitalization of the hotel, which dates to 1900 and was bought by the Kennebec Valley Community Action Program in 2012.

Reny said the restaurant will be eligible for the Fairfield facade grant program for downtown businesses, which began with a $100,000 state grant and continues with $50,000 from the downtown tax increment financing district. So far, seven downtown businesses have benefited from the facade grant program.

The Kennebec Cafe, where Dancing Elephant II will open, operated on Main Street for 12 years, where cafe owner Ann Maglaras, 60, and her husband, John, 67, fried up doughnuts for area residents and college students. They moved their business to Dexter, Munson said, and operate under the name Cooper’s Trail.

Hossan, who is married and has two school-age children, came to the United States in 1992, completing high school in New York City. He later worked at Indian restaurants in New York and in Brunswick and Portland, where the family lives, and opened the Dancing Elephant in 2012. Hossan said the symbol of the dancing elephant in India is good luck.

A Portland location Hossan was leasing was damaged by fire in September, setting the stage for coming to the Waterville area.

Munson said the closest Indian restaurant to Fairfield is in Bangor – 60 miles away – while there are several in southern Maine.


He said one of the attractions at Dancing Elephant II will be a daily lunch buffet, so that people who are not familiar with Indian food can sample various dishes to see what they like, but he is optimistic that the new business will thrive.

“Indian food is more famous food – it has a lot of flavor,” Hossan said. “They will like Indian food here because it’s healthy. We sell a lot of lamb, coconut shrimp, chicken … Everything is mild, but if you like it spicy, we can add it spicy. We make everything fresh.”

Doug Harlow can be contacted at 612-2367 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: Doug_Harlow

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