WATERVILLE — The Portland Pie Co. is looking to get a slice of the food business in a college town that is remaking itself.

The restaurant focusing on specialty pizza, pasta, sandwiches and salads is expanding to Waterville this spring, with plans to move into the south storefront of the former Hains Building at 173 Main St.

Portland Pie, which has locations in Portland, Biddeford, Westbrook, Scarborough, Brunswick and Manchester, New Hampshire, will offer lunch and dinner for dining in or delivery, have a full bar and kitchen and seat about 100 people, said Patrick Mulligan, who, with Cole McElwain, will own and operate the eatery.

Colby College is investing millions of dollars in the downtown as part of revitalization efforts launched by the city and the college. Colby plans to build a boutique hotel this year on the southeast end of Main Street in the former Levine’s clothing store space.

Mulligan said Friday that the Waterville restaurant’s layout will mirror that of the one in Brunswick.

The restaurateurs plan to start retrofitting the inside of the 3,000-square-foot space Feb. 26 and hope to complete it for an opening in April or May. Work will include installing a floor, a drop-ceiling, partition walls, accent windows, an electrical network, plumbing and a new kitchen, Mulligan said.


Portland Pie has a 10-year lease with Colby, which owns the building, with two five-year renewable leases, according to Mulligan, a former partner in the Bag & Kettle restaurant at Sugarloaf.

Mulligan and McElwain had been looking for a long while for the right opportunity, and a friend suggested to Mulligan that, since they drive through Waterville all the time, they spend some time there.

“I did and really liked what was going on,” Mulligan said. “You could really sense the commitment Colby was making. There’s a huge sense of community.”

Colby bought and renovated the former Hains Building, which has Colby offices on the second floor and will house CGI Group, a technology firm, on upper floors.

In that building, Portland Pie will be right across Main Street from the $25 million mixed-use residential complex Colby is building that will house about 200 students and faculty and staff members involved in a civic-engagement, community-service curriculum. The building is expected to be ready for occupancy in August.

Brian Clark, Colby’s vice president for planning, said Colby officials are thrilled to welcome Portland Pie Co. to downtown Waterville.


“We are especially excited they will bring new life and activity to a storefront that has been dark for many years,” Clark said. “The promise of having more people living and working downtown is starting to pay off with the attraction of Maine-based Portland Pie, and we are having many additional fruitful conversations with other prospective retailers who see that same opportunity for success. And, while it’s still early, we’re seeing positive signs throughout Waterville, including the strength of the real estate market and the highest population since 1997.”

Mulligan said Portland Pie will employ about 50 people for full- and part-time positions including waiters and waitresses, bartenders, kitchen workers and delivery drivers.

A Waterville resident is being trained in Scarborough for the kitchen manager’s job, he said, adding that he plans to remove the “For Lease” sign in the window of the space and replace it with a Portland Pie logo and a link to an email address where people may apply for jobs.

Clark said the 50 jobs Portland Pie expects to create add to the hundreds of jobs already committed because of Colby’s investments.

“Portland Pie will be a strong community partner and provide a new family-friendly dining experience on Main Street that will be popular with the entire community – including my 3½-year-old son, Owen, who is excited to split a pepperoni pizza with me when they open later this spring,” he said.

Mulligan said the lease includes not only the southernmost space on the ground floor of 173 Main St., but also the rear part of the space on the northernmost storefront, where the kitchen will be located.


He said restaurant hours have not been set, but they probably will be 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. That could change according to demand, he said.

A news release from Special Pie, LLC, says Portland Pie was founded in 1997 in Portland, where it had a small shop.

“Looking to stand out in a crowded pizza landscape, the owners crafted what are now Portland Pie’s signature dough flavors: basil, wheat, garlic, beer and most recently, gluten-free, all made from the highest quality ingredients.”

Garvan Donegan, senior economic development specialist for the Central Maine Growth Council, said Portland Pie and Mulligan’s investment in Waterville illustrates the upswing in economic enthusiasm on Main Street and the effect downtown revitalization is having on the local economy.

“With Portland Pie located downtown, Main Street realizes a new flagship anchor tenant that will be a draw for people living, studying, working, investing and visiting the city,” Donegan said. “Additionally, this is very exciting because Portland Pie is a well-known and beloved brand identity throughout the state of Maine. For Waterville, food businesses and entrepreneurship in the area have been growing tremendously, offering students, consumers, wholesale and institutional purchasers new avenues for accessing a variety of diverse culinary options. We look forward to Portland Pie stimulating this upward trend.”

Paul Ureneck, director of commercial real estate for Elm City LLC, an affiliate of Colby College, said officials are in negotiations with another tenant for the northern storefront at 173 Main.


“I expect to have a letter of intent to lease that space next week,” he said. “It would be another food use, completely separate and something completely different than what exists anywhere else in town now. But it’s still under negotiation. We feel very encouraged about it.”

The Colby residential complex at 150 Main St. also will have retail on the ground floor, though a tenant, or possibly more than one, has not yet been identified. A glassed-in community forum meeting space will be in the northeast corner of the building to be used by the college as well as by the city and nonprofit groups. Ayers Saint Gross, of Baltimore, Maryland, designed the building, and the construction manager for the project is Landry/French Construction Co., of Scarborough.

Amy Calder can be contacted at 861-9247 or at:


Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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