JP’s Bistro, the cozy neighborhood eatery at 496 Woodford Street, is moving to Falmouth after a decade in the Rosemont neighborhood of Portland.

JP’s Bistro, a welcoming neighborhood spot in Portland, is moving to Falmouth. Staff photo by Gordon Chibroski

Chef/owner John Paul Gagnon says he’ll be closing his namesake Portland restaurant on Oct. 12 and hopes to re-open the first week of November at 204 U.S. Route 1 in Falmouth. That’s the former location of Hugs Italian Restaurant. (The Hugs restaurant at Sugarloaf remains open.) Gagnon says the new space will have more room, more and better equipment, and — he hopes — more customers. He’ll lose the attractive brick wall in the Portland restaurant, but gain a better heating and air conditioning system. And although he’ll be starting with dinner only in the new space, he plans to offer lunch service in the near future.

Gagnon, 54, said he cooks at the existing location, which serves mostly seafood and Italian-inspired dishes, on eight burners and a charbroiler. The restaurant has no walk-in cooler, and he must go up and down stairs “a hundred times a day” to get to his dry storage space and refrigerators. “It gets tough,” he said, especially as he grows older, joking that he knows “how to dance with all my cooks. We all know each other’s body actions.”

The dining room at JP’s Bistro is also too small, he said: “We get a party of 12 here, it’s hard to find the room.” The current JP’s can seat 42, plus an extra 14 on the patio in summer. The Falmouth location will be able to seat 70.

The Falmouth location will also have more burners, more oven space, and two fryolators. The chef hopes that once he has the proper equipment, he’ll be able to bring back some favorite dishes from earlier in his career that customers still ask for, such as fried calamari. He also plans to add a few pub-style items to the menu, such as burgers and sandwiches.

Gagnon said his entire staff of eight full-time employees and 15 part-timers are moving with him to Falmouth. The full-time employees will continue to be paid in the gap between old and new locations; they’ll help clean and otherwise set-up before the new restaurant can open. Gagnon said he’s also been approached by three former front-of-house employees from Hugs, and will consider hiring them.

This won’t be the first time Gagnon has worked at the Falmouth location. He cooked there in the 1990s when it was Casa Napoli, he said. Gagnon has also worked at Parker’s, Sully’s, Samuel’s Bar & Grill and the Art Gallery in Portland, and at the Merry Manor in South Portland.

The ribeye with bourbon sauce at JP’s Bistro. Staff photo by Gordon Chibroski

“I’m definitely going to miss the neighborhood setting” on Woodford, he said. “This has been a good run for me here. I’m sure I’ll see some of the people who came here (in Falmouth), but I probably won’t get the people during snow storms, when I would stay open late and get the neighborhood traffic.”

 

 

 

 

 


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