The Borealis Bakery & Bistro at 182 Ocean Ave. in Portland is closing Saturday after about seven years in business.

Jim Amaral, the well-known Maine baker behind the bistro and the larger Borealis Breads bakeries in Wells and Waldoboro, said the building is owned by his brother, a Massachusetts real estate developer who has decided to sell the property. Amaral said he will focus on the wholesale side of Borealis, “which accounts for most of our business anyway and has been very, very busy the past couple of years.”

Despite more competition from bakery startups, Borealis has been “thriving in general,” Amaral said, and the closure of the popular 35-seat neighborhood bistro, which is near the Back Cove area of Portland, has nothing to do with a lack of business.

“There is a lot of competition,” he said, “and I think that’s actually a really good thing, because all the people we see who are doing bread are doing really good bread. I think the pie is just getting bigger. People are more and more aware of what good bread is all about.”

Borealis Breads has been around for 24 years and is in a good position to expand its wholesale business, Amaral said, since most start-ups don’t have the resources or facilities to handle big wholesale accounts. Amaral is also busy taking on other projects – he’s under contract to write a new bread-baking book for Down East Books, for example. The bistro opened on Dec. 17, 2008, and served breakfast and lunch items as well as loaves of bread. Borealis used local ingredients in its paninis, sandwiches and baked goods, and offered other value-added local food products for sale. Amaral is a passionate advocate of cultivating Maine grains and sold them at Borealis, where customers could buy a bag of organic Maine whole wheat flour or pick up a bowl of Maine oats for breakfast that had been simmered in apple juice and served with walnuts, brown sugar, milk and cranberries. Families in a rush stopped in on the way home to pick up a turkey pot pie for dinner.

The business is a turnkey operation that includes a wood-fired oven and a patio for warmer months. Amaral called it “a great opportunity” and said he hopes another food business or restaurant will take over the space and perhaps add dinner service with beer and wine in the evening.

“We’ve had a great relationship with the local community and really enjoyed being there,” he said. “They’ve been very supportive. There’s not a lot of competition there. We’re the one place in the neighborhood.”


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