We had a lively conversation Wednesday morning about commercial development, part of the business breakfast forums the Press Herald has been hosting for two years now.

One of the more surprising revelations from our panelists: expect more hotel development on Portland’s peninsula.

Both developer Jim Brady and Boulos broker Craig Young said more hotels are likely as the city’s profile continues to rise as a tourist destination and foodie hub.

That profile got a boost last month when Conde Nast Traveler magazine placed Brady’s Press Hotel on its “Hot List” of the best new hotels in the world. Yep, the world.

“Squarely in the center of a surging food scene, deeply rooted but visionary, it’s the hotel this can’t-ignore-it-anymore city has earned,” reads part of the critic’s review.

The magazine lauded the hotel for incorporating the history of the former newspaper building into the interior design, including hallways, “where memorable headlines tumble down the walls and spill across floors in ragged alphabetical ‘piles.’ ”

The reviewer also gave a nod to the Union restaurant and Chef Josh Berry, who “leans into vegetables, raiding local farmers markets for the beautiful and strange, gently extracting the sublime. There’s plenty of seafood, too, as when the time’s right for lobster; everything’s rendered with the same deft touch, deep flavor, and droll nods toward Maine traditions.”

Not bad for a building that has “great bones,” as Brady put it, but had suffered from decades of oddball updates, such as the installation of three separate heating systems without removing the old ones. There’s no evidence of that jerry-rigging now.


Guess what Ricky Skaggs, Doc Watson, Ray Lamontagne and Luke Bryan have in common? They all play Bourgeois guitars, made in Lewiston.

The custom luthier has been in business for nearly 40 years, but it was an infusion of cash from Maine Venture Fund in 2011 that really allowed the company to expand.

“At that time, an agreement was reached with MVF to repurchase their shares over a timeline that also allowed the company to make sufficient investments in its growth and development,” CEO John Karp said in a news release. “MVF did all this at a time where most investors would have liquidated the company. Instead, our team has increased employment 45 percent and has nearly doubled sales, adding distribution throughout the Far East, including China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and other countries.”

Karp issued the release because his company paid off its MVF financing, and all other debt, ahead of its repayment schedule.

Aside from making beautiful guitars, the company is an innovator. At a Maine Technology Institute Tech Walk, Karp demonstrated the sound of Bourgeois guitars, which is enhanced using torrefaction – the microwave technology that changes wood into pellets. Essentially, new wood is dried in a way that removes sugars, oils and resins – a process that would occur naturally as a guitar ages. The resulting tone is richer, and sounds like a vintage instrument rather than something brand new.


Ten years ago, Hannaford Supermarkets launched an innovative program to help customers identify healthy foods in an easy-to-understand way. It developed the Guiding Stars system, where foods are graded on their nutritional value and then tagged with one to three stars, with three stars indicating the healthiest.

The program has grown exponentially and spun off into its own separate affiliate based in Scarborough.

Now Guiding Stars is used by retail and food service clients in 22 states and across Canada. Here in Maine, roughly 35 percent of the food displayed in a Hannaford store carries a Guiding Star designation.

According to Sue Till, client services manager of Guiding Stars, more growth is planned.

“We’re exploring new opportunities in grocery, food service and population health, plus integration with disease management programs (such as diabetes and heart disease), and mobile and online applications,” she said. “We’ll also be exploring international markets.”

The supermarket’s registered dietitians regularly incorporate Guiding Stars into educational workshops and the advice they offer customers. Other programs leverage customers’ familiarity with Guiding Stars to offer them healthier snacking and recipe options, according to a prepared statement from Hannaford.

“There’s a great deal of pride among those people here at Hannaford who helped launch Guiding Stars 10 years ago as an innovative concept that has grown over time and proven its value (both scientifically and through its adoption by many other organizations) consistently during the past decade.”