Mike Smith, executive chef at Scales, one of Portland’s hottest new restaurants, says he is leaving after just five months to work at a neighborhood restaurant that Chris Gould, chef/owner of Central Provisions, plans to open off the Portland peninsula this winter.

Gould and his wife and business partner, Paige Gould, have purchased the former Borealis Bakery & Bistro at 182 Ocean Ave., where they plan to open an Italian restaurant specializing in Neapolitan pizza, handmade pastas, crudo and salads. It will include takeout. Smith and his wife, Robyn Luongo Smith, who works at The Honey Paw, are longtime friends with the Goulds – both chefs worked for well-known Boston restaurateur Ken Oringer before moving back to their home state of Maine. Smith will be chef de cuisine at the Goulds’ new restaurant, which does not yet have a name, and his wife will serve as general manager.

Smith said while “Scales is great,” the job ultimately did not fit his personality.

“I took the job because I really love cooking seafood. I wanted a challenge, and I had never worked with Sam (Hayward) and Dana (Street) before,” he said. “I thought it would be a good opportunity where I could learn a lot, and I did. I learned a ton. I don’t think (leaving is) a negative thing. It’s just a transition.”

Street, co-owner of Scales, did not return a phone call seeking comment about Smith’s departure.

The Goulds own the new Italian place, but Smith said he and his wife will be limited partners.


“We moved back to Maine to settle down and do our own thing, but we don’t have $2 million to open a restaurant,” said Smith, a native of Old Orchard Beach. “It just seemed like a natural partnership to build with them. We’ve been offered a personal stake in the business that will grow over time. We have a vested interest in its success.”

Central Provisions has received national attention for its sophisticated small plates and hip atmosphere, but Chris Gould said his new Italian place will have a “much more neighborhood vibe.”

“I think it’s time for the restaurants to expand past the peninsula,” Gould said. “There’s plenty of people in Back Cove and North Deering that don’t want to drive into the Old Port to go to a nice restaurant.”

Gould hopes to have the place open by December or January. He will be adding a bar and banquette seating along the walls, and has plans for a communal table. The space, once used to bake breads, already has a brick oven for pizza.

The casual restaurant will serve dinner to start, then add weekend brunch. The menu will offer some dishes meant to be shared, like Central Provisions, but that’s where similarities end.

“The pastas, we’re going to do full and half portions,” Gould said, “So you can get two or three different pastas if you want, or you can get a large bowl of one.”


Erik Hanks, the sous chef at Central Provisions, will move into a chef de cuisine role there so that Chris Gould can oversee both businesses daily.

“I’ll still be in the kitchen every day, 100 hours a week, but hopefully more in a role of overseeing and helping other people come along to grow in their careers as well,” Gould said.

Smith said Italian food is “probably the first cuisine I fell in love with,” and he looks forward to working in “a neighborhood joint that’s not on the peninsula and cooking for Portlanders all the time, who appreciate everything.”


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