FREEPORT — Almost two years after a fire destroyed the popular Corsican Cafe and Chowder House on Mechanic Street, a team of three local chefs has opened a new restaurant at the site.

Homage Restaurant, which opened Feb. 8, has two floors of seating for up to 87 customers. Once the weather warms, a porch off of the second-floor dining area will add space for five more tables.

Executive chef David French designed the space and menu with his wife, Karen, who is the pastry chef, and sous chef Jay Johnson. Described as “new American,” the menu offers two courses with meals ranging anywhere from $7 to $29, as well as dessert and kids’ options.

Everything from salad dressings and spice blends, to French fries and breads, are made fresh in-house.

David French describes the restaurant’s style as “fine casual,” which to him means “a high level of food service, but more relaxed.” Bare wood tables and a bar top glimmering with rows of pennies under glass, he said, reinforce the vibe.

“The space didn’t have a bar and we wanted something unique,” he added. “I’ve always liked copper bar tops, but they’re very hard to take care of.”

So over the past few months, the trio collected more than 11,000 pennies, which they spent four days placing one-by-one across the bar.

The restaurant’s sign is designed to convey their restaurant’s commitment to making everything from scratch. The “O” in Homage is a beet and the “A” is a spinach leaf. A waiting area at the entrance is painted a “roasted cashew” color and dining rooms have the color of sugar beets and spinach.

Black-and-white photos on the walls, taken by Karen’s sister, Beth, all have a hand theme.

“They go along with the notion that everything here is done by hand,” David French said.

A series of photos of Karen’s grandmother’s hands shaping a clay bowl on a pottery wheel hangs in the front entrance of the restaurant.

Another photo shows Karen’s hand wearing the engagement ring David bought her about 20 years ago from Brown Goldsmiths, next door at 11 Mechanic St.

“Freeport has kind of been a home for us,” David French said. “Karen and I bought our first apartment together here over on Mallet Drive.”

They now live in Bath with their two children. Johnson lives in Freeport.

Having worked in Maine’s restaurant industry for between 15 and 20 years – often together – David French said he, his wife, and Johnson have long dreamed of opening their own space together.

“This is what we’re been wanting to do forever,” David French said. “Opening a restaurant has so many pieces. Once you think you have everything, you find another problem that needs to be solved … but in the end it’s all worth it.”

Read this story in The Forecaster.

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