Sangillo’s Tavern may be gone, but the site of the bar isn’t going to remain empty for long.

Samuel Minervino, who owns Samuel’s Bar and Grill on Forest Avenue, said he hopes to open a new restaurant and bar in the former Sangillo’s space on Hampshire Street by late summer. He said it will be called “Tomaso’s Canteen” and will feature homemade Italian sausages, lunches and dinners and cater to “a lot of working people.”

Sangillo’s closed in February, after the Portland City Council voted 5-4 to recommend to state officials that the bar’s liquor license not be renewed. Police officials told the council that they had been answering an increasing number of calls for service from the bar and the area around it and said particularly troubling was a shooting outside the bar in January 2014 that resulting in a 24-year-old man being paralyzed.

Although no one has been charged in the case, police said the shooting grew out of an altercation in the bar.

Sangillo’s appealed the city council decision, but the state liquor board upheld the decision to deny the bar a license.

Minervino said he will foster a different attitude in the bar in an effort to avoid a repeat of the problems.


He said in most cases, one or two people are the ones likely to cause problems. Most bar owners or bartenders learn early on who those people are and they make sure they know they’re not welcome, he said.

“You have to watch out for the troublemakers and, if they make problems, they can’t come back,” Minervino said. “I’ve been in the business a lot of years and I know there are certain people I don’t want to see coming through the door.”

Minervino said he feels a strong connection to the neighborhood where his bar/restaurant will be located. It’s in Portland’s Little Italy section and Minervino’s family lived in the neighborhood after arriving in Portland from Italy in the early 20th century.

Minervino himself lived in a house on nearby India Street as a child and his first business, Sam’s Harbor Lunch, was located not too far away on Commercial Street before he moved it to Forest Avenue in 1988 and later renamed it.

Minervino said the menu for his new location is far from set and, in fact, he doesn’t expect to even get the keys for the place until this week. Then he’ll start figuring out renovations.

Minervino said he hopes to have his new place open by early summer, but admits that he may not make that goal.

“I’ve never made a deadline ever, so let’s say July and maybe we’ll make it by September,” he said.


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