An example of the baked goods coming to Byers & Sons Long Island Bakehouse, formerly the Long Island Store. Photo courtesy of Catlin Byers

It might sound crazy to be buying any sort of food-service business right now, but when Catlin and Matthew Byers decided to take over the Long Island Store, they committed to serving the community, and they aren’t about to back down.

“We need to support it, and they’ll support us,” said Catlin Byers, whose family has been spending summers on the Casco Bay island for more than 100 years.

The couple, who live in Cumberland in the winter with their three young sons, closed on the store, which they’ve renamed Byers & Sons Long Island Bakehouse, on April 4 and have continued selling gas since then, while they renovate the kitchen.

They’re hoping for a soft opening in June for the rest of the business, selling breakfast, lunch, fresh baked goods and take-home meals, as well as live lobsters, ice cream, candy, beer and wine.

Byers called it a “convenience store but more,” with seating for about 20 inside and more on the deck.

The store is located at 262 Island Ave. and plans to be open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily through October, with gas sold year-round and monthly dinners held in the offseason.

Good morning, Bam Bam

Portland’s gluten-free Bam Bam Bakery was featured on “Good Morning America” Friday as part of the ABC show’s Open for Business series.

In the segment, owner Tina Cromwell did a cooking demonstration, making the bakery’s popular vegan chocolate peanut butter cake, then joined the show live via video, where host Michael Strahan told her that online gourmet food marketplace Goldbelly was setting up a page to ship the cake nationwide.

Strahan said he planned to order it for his “cheat meal.”

Chellie on their side

Rep. Chellie Pingree was joined by two dozen fellow members of Congress in asking Democratic House leaders Tuesday for more assistance for small and midsized farmers, who have lost many of their customers, such as restaurants, in this pandemic, but could also help fill in where the national food supply chain is failing.

Their letter outlined more than 40 ideas for providing immediate assistance to farmers, helping food producers adapt to social distancing measures, protecting farm workers, facilitating food donation, ensuring access to local food through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and preserving farmland.

The ideas included flexibility with loans, funding to cover federal inspection costs for small meat processors and incentives to use SNAP benefits at local farmers markets.

When one Arabica closes, another one opens

Arabica Coffee has permanently closed its Commercial Street location, which opened as Crema in 2012, but is negotiating a lease to move its roasting operations to another location in Portland.

Owner Catherine Rasco wouldn’t say exactly where, but said that she planned to open a small coffee bar there as well.

“I just felt like in response to this situation I needed to just streamline, sort of contract this business and just make it as small as I could, especially facing a summer season that was so questionable,” Rasco said about closing the “very expensive”  and highly seasonal Commercial Street location.

She said the landlord bought her out of her lease, giving her “access to cash when there’s no cash coming in,” which was “definitely part of that decision.”

Rasco closed Arabica’s two locations – on Commercial and Free streets – on March 16, laying off all but two of her 26 employees. She hopes to reopen her Free Street coffee shop in late May for curbside takeout, or on June 1 when such establishments are slated in reopen with restrictions.

She is in the process of installing a bakery in the basement of that coffee shop.

Join the curb club

Sichuan Kitchen, which had been on a planned two-week break since March 1 but never reopened, started offering takeout for curbside pickup on Friday. Its hours are 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day but Wednesday, with online ordering available.

Duckfat in Portland opened for curbside takeout on Friday, offering its full menu from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.

Bite Into Maine’s commissary in Scarborough. Photo by Leslie Bridgers

Also reopened since Friday is Bite Into Maine’s commissary on Route 1 in Scarborough. Orders are being taken online or by phone for contactless pickup or delivery. Bite Into Maine hopes to start up its popular food truck at Fort Williams in the first week of June, if the Cape Elizabeth park reopens on June 1 as planned.

M.C. Perkins Cove in Ogunquit plans to reopen for takeout on Thursday, offering a special menu. Orders and payment will be taken by phone, starting at 3 p.m., for pickup from 5-7 p.m. – the hours of operation for Wednesday through Friday going forward. On weekend days, orders will be taken starting at 11 a.m., with pickup starting at noon and serving straight through until 7 p.m. on Saturday and 5 p.m. on Sunday.

Elsmere BBQ & Wood Grill, which has been offering curbside takeout from its South Portland location Thursday through Sunday, will now do the same from its location in Portland’s Deering Center, starting Friday.

More certain times

Wish you could be transported to another time? How do the ’50s sound? On May 16, Yarmouth restaurant Gather, which reopened for curbside pickup last week, will transform into a retro drive-in, complete with car hops, who will deliver pre-ordered meals to your vehicle, owner Matt Chappelle said.

Listen to live bluegrass playing from the deck while you scarf down burgers and shakes and, maybe for a moment, forget everything else that’s going on.

Maria’s for mama mia

Maria’s Ristorante, which relocated in December from Cumberland Avenue to outer Congress Street in Portland, is offering a special Mother’s Day dinner menu for preorder by 5 p.m. Friday (or until sell-out, if before) and pickup between noon and 4:30 p.m. Saturday, to reheat the next day.

The three-course meal, with several items to select from, costs $24.95 per person. The first 50 orders will come with a free bouquet of flowers. See Maria’s Facebook page for more details, and last week’s Wrap for more Mother’s Day takeout meal options.


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