BIDDEFORD — After months of waiting, customers were rewarded, some twice in one day.

Biscuits & Company, one of three winners of the 2013 Heart of Biddeford’s Main Street Challenge ”“ Encore!, opened on Friday.

On Saturday, several customers enjoyed their biscuit-based breakfasts so much that they stopped by the Alfred Street eatery again for lunch.

“I was here for breakfast,” said Ralph Jacques of Biddeford. “I had sausage gravy on a biscuit.”

Later, he said, he called his wife Charlotte and asked her to meet him at the biscuit café for lunch.

“So far our family is very, very happy,” said Charlotte Jacques about they food they’ve tasted. “We’re spreading the news,” she said.

The Jacques family members aren’t the only ones raving about café owner Stacy Cooper’s biscuits.

Bill Durkin and his wife Donna, respectively, enjoyed a ham biscuit sandwich and vegetarian biscuit sandwich, on Saturday for lunch.

“The last time I had this was when I was one of the judges for the Main Street Challenge,” said Bill Durkin about his ham sandwich.

At that time, he said, he and the other judges “were just mesmerized” by the food.

“We’ve been waiting in anticipation,” said Durkin.

Donna Durkin said the food and décor of the café were worth the wait.

“They did such a nice job in here,” she said, “it looks terrific.”

At closing time at 3 p.m., Cooper the proprietor of Biscuits & Co. said she was tired.

“We’ve been here since 5 a.m.” to prepare for the 7 a.m. opening, she said.

But Cooper wasn’t complaining.

She said she decided to open a biscuit business because it was a trend she saw taking off across the country and thought/hoped it would do well in Biddeford.

So far, so good.

“It’s amazing,” said Cooper. “We cannot keep up.”

“We did at least double the business we expected” for the opening weekend, she said, and added, “I lost count” of the number of biscuits she baked.

Cooper noted that the business was so busy that on both Friday and Saturday she ran out of biscuits both days and had to stop taking orders to bake more.

Although she was busy baking, she said, “It was cool to see people really enjoying the food. People get really excited by biscuits and gravy.”

Cooper said she was thrilled she was finally able to open her doors. Although there had been some tasting events and small catering jobs, as well as a soft opening on Dec. 5, it had been a long wait between the time she learned she was a winner of the Main Street Challenge ”“ Encore! in January and Friday’s official opening.

Cooper was one of three winners of the 2013 Main Street Challenge ”“ Encore! The challenge is a competition held by the downtown revitalization organization Heart of Biddeford in cooperation with the city of Biddeford. Its purpose is to fill vacant storefronts on Main Street, by providing each winner with a $10,000 forgivable loan and other incentives.

The 2013 challenge was the second time the competition was held.

The three winners of the first competition are still in business. These include Jennifer Thibeau and Wes Rhames, who own the vegetarian cafe Dahlia’s Delights at 137 Main St.; Michael Macomber, proprietor of Elements: Books Coffee Beer, the used bookstore/cafe by day that turns into a taproom/event space by night at 265 Main St.; and David and Bekah Clark’s hand carved wood store Tote Road at 40 Laconia St.

The 2013 challenge winners included Cooper; Mike Harris, owner of Desert Moon, a retail space for his handmade leather goods business, at 156 Main St., who was the first to open; and Shonee Strickland who is still waiting to open her craft brewery and tasting room business Forage Beer Works.

All the winners were supposed to open in June, but some have taken longer to get started.

Cooper said she had unexpected delays when she learned she needed a larger ventilation system than she had planned for. Both the installation and raising money to pay for it caused her to postpone the opening.

But she said the unexpected delay also allowed her to take her time to make more preparations.

For instance, it gave her time to find a great crew, baker Kerry Kraker, and counter staffers Cara Chase and Kristen Philbrick, all of Biddeford; hiring local residents was a condition of the challenge. In addition to these members of her team, Cooper’s wife Michelle Currie, a musician, who she lives with in Arundel, has also been pitching in.

If business keeps up, said Cooper she’ll soon have to hire new staff.

Biscuits & Company, at 25 Alfred St., will be open Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. If the business does well, it may open for more days and hours.

— Staff Writer Dina Mendros can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 324 or [email protected]



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