The criminal cases against well-known Maine chef Shannon Bard and her husband, who were charged with writing thousands of dollars in bad checks before closing their Portland restaurant last year, are nearing conclusion.

Shannon Bard

The two were charged in March. Thomas Bard was charged with writing 21 bad checks worth $10,376 between March and June 2017. Shannon Bard, who appeared on Food Network shows and wrote cookbooks in addition to running Zapoteca on Fore Street in Portland, was charged with writing $8,882 in bad checks during the same period. All of the checks were written to Bow Street Distributing, a Freeport company that sells liquor to restaurants in addition to operating its own retail stores.

Thomas Bard will serve a weekend in jail on Aug. 11-13. He is then due to return to court on Aug. 20 and will plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of negotiating a worthless instrument. The original charge was a felony-level crime.

He and his attorney agreed to a bail revocation that will have him serve his sentence before his guilty plea. He will be released on personal recognizance after serving 48 hours. His lawyer, Randall Bates, said Bard was concerned that a later jail date might affect his employment in Massachusetts.

Bates said Bard will be fined $1,000 and be ordered to make restitution after he pleads guilty. Bard was prepared to pay restitution Thursday, Bates said, but the court decided to wait for his guilty plea.

Bates said the exact amount of restitution hasn’t been set because it will need to include bank fees that Bow Street was charged when the checks were returned. The restitution will cover only the checks that Thomas Bard wrote, Bates said, and not those that Shannon Bard had been charged with writing.


Shannon Bard’s charges will remain on file for three months, meaning that if she does nothing wrong during that time, they will be dismissed. She will also pay court costs of $200 and perform 15 hours of community service. She will not have to pay restitution.

Thomas Bard

The Bards arrived separately Thursday for the proceeding at the Cumberland County Courthouse. Thomas Bard sat in the front row of benches in the courtroom and Shannon Bard sat behind him. They conferred briefly once but otherwise did not interact publicly.

Shannon Bard’s lawyer, Stephen Schwartz, said the couple is “estranged.”

Bard had gained star status in the world of chefs, appearing on – and winning – chef competition shows, and putting on a dinner at the James Beard House in New York City, a top honor for chefs.

But they announced in June 2017 that they were closing the Portland restaurant to spend more time with their children, although they quickly opened up a new restaurant in Kennebunk, where they lived. It turned out that the couple and their business faced at least a dozen lawsuits in Cumberland County over unpaid bills at Zapoteca, and the restaurant they opened in Kennebunk, Toroso, was soon closed. The building that housed the restaurant in Kennebunk’s Lower Village was sold at a foreclosure auction in December 2017.

Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

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