The James Beard Award-winning owners of Hugo’s, one of Portland’s most critically acclaimed restaurants, announced Friday that they will not re-open until fall.

“We love creating an intimate dining experience for guests in a restaurant that allows them to share space with our chefs, but we cannot yet envision a time when it will feel safe for us to do that again,” owners Mike Wiley, Arlin Smith and Andrew Taylor wrote.

Closed in March because of the pandemic, the restaurant, located at 88 Middle Street, will continue to offer Hugo’s at Home curbside pick-up services through the summer, Smith said. The menu includes prepared meals such as seafood curry, as well as such items as charcuterie, tinned fish, bread, pickles, preserves, ice cream, Sichuan chili mayo and roasted shallot honey mustard. Look for weekly menus and an order schedule on the restaurant’s website, hugosmaine.com, and Instagram, @hugosmaine.

Popular Portland seafood shack closes

Miller Brothers Seafood in Portland has closed Meredith Goad/Staff Writer

A reader contacted me recently wondering if he would be able to eat at Miller Brothers Seafood on Forest Avenue the next time he comes to Maine. He had tried calling the little, off-the-beaten-path seafood shack, run by brothers Chris and Tom Miller, to see if it was open for the season, but the phone wasn’t working, and no one answered his email, either.

I have some bad news for fans of Miller Brothers (and that includes me). It’s permanently closed.

I had the same difficulty as the reader getting answers by phone and email, so I drove by the restaurant over the weekend and found a big “For Rent or Lease” sign draped across the building. I called the number and got David Coppersmith, owner of Pine Tree Autobody, who owns the tiny building where Miller Brothers did business. Coppersmith said that Chris Miller’s lease was up May 1, and Miller decided not to renew, both because of the pandemic and because he had trouble juggling the restaurant with a second job that takes him all over the country.

“It’s too bad because it was a great business,” Coppersmith said, noting that Miller Brothers, which mostly did takeout, saw its business double every year. “It’s a loss to the community. He just did a great job. The food was fantastic.

Coppersmith said the space has been a seafood take-out joint for about 10 years, under three different restaurateurs. He said he’d “love to” have another seafood takeout place move in. Interested? Call (207) 671-5299.

Margarita deficit in Brunswick 
Another permanent closure: Pedro O’Hara’s in Brunswick.

While the coronavirus was the proverbial nail in the coffin for the restaurant, the owners explained in a social media post that there was more to it than that: “The last couple of years have been tough. Many choices in a small town. The pie kept getting smaller.”

Then came the virus. The restaurant lost business on its two busiest days of the year, St. Patrick’s Day and Cinco de Mayo, as well as Bowdoin graduation weekend. It can’t do outdoor dining because it doesn’t have a deck or a parking lot where a tent could be erected.

The Pedro O’Hara’s in Lewiston is still open.

Portsmouth Ri Ra folds

This next closure is a little too close for comfort.

Ri Ra Irish Pub in Portsmouth has been shuttered permanently, according to an announcement posted Monday on social media by David Kelly and Ciaran Sheehan, founders of the Ri Ra chain, which also has locations in Atlanta; Charlotte, North Carolina; Atlantic City, New Jersey; Las Vegas; Burlington, Vermont; and, of course, Portland.

The notice said that it was with “extreme sadness and heavy hearts” that the pub, which opened in March 2009, is closing. “Our landlord has been extremely supportive in our attempts to find a path forward over many months of discussions but, unfortunately, we both agree that at this stage we have no option but to close our pub.”

What does this mean for the Ri Ra on Portland’s Maine Wharf? Nothing, at least not yet. Managing partner Spencer Brantley told me in an e-mail that the Portland location will “certainly” be re-opening. He said the pub is applying for expanded outdoor dining, and will be offering indoor dining when it is allowed.

“The pub will require indoor dining plus outdoor seating in order to meet a threshold of breaking even that can’t be met with curbside and takeout alone,” he said.

Buy a sandwich, help Black Lives Matter

A&C Grocery at 131 Washington Ave. opened its “outdoor lounge” Monday with socially-distanced seating limited to 20 people.

The small grocery sells sandwiches – Italians, cheesesteaks, pulled pork, burgers – as well as beer and wine. Owner Joe Fournier announced on social media Monday that he’ll be honoring George Floyd by donating a portion of his sales to Black Lives Matter organizations at least through this week, possibly longer.

On Tuesday, LB Kitchen donated all of its profits to three organizations: Reclaim the Block, Maine Youth Justice and the NAACP. The staff donated their tips as well, and the restaurant asked its customers to donate when ordering.

No more curbside at Red’s

Red’s Dairy Freeze in South Portland has backtracked on offering curbside pickup just a week after opening for the season. The popular ice cream shack is now doing counter service only, and is asking customers to wear a face mask and follow social distancing guidelines.

Rosemont reopens one store

The Rosemont Market at 580 Brighton Ave. in Portland reopened for in-store shopping Tuesday, with five customers permitted inside the store at a time.

The store is asking that all customers wear a mask and gloves, and will have some on hand for shoppers who don’t have them. The store’s staff will also be wearing masks and gloves. Leave your cash at home – they’re accepting credit and debit cards only.

If you still prefer curbside pickup, the pickup spot for the store has moved across the street to Rosemont’s “home delivery hub” at 559 Brighton Ave.

Rosemont’s other five markets are not allowing customers inside yet, but they are offering a new walk-up service out front. If you’re buying 10 items or fewer, you can walk up to a table set up at the door of each market and place your order. Staffers will fill the order while you wait.

Cup of Joe
Graduating seniors: Put away those cell phones, sit up in your chairs and pay attention (lest we be tempted to put you in detention)! Aroma Joe’s wants to congratulate the Class of 2020 by giving every graduating high school and college senior a free 24-ounce drink on Friday. You must show your school ID to collect the freebie.

Keen as mustard

My favourite dinner is a cup of tea and a ham sandwich with English mustard.” – Marco Pierre White

Here’s hoping Mainers love mustard as much as the famous British chef. Colman’s English Mustard just donated 48,000 squeeze bottles of mustard to the Good Shepherd Food Bank, which distributes food to 500 partner agencies fighting food insecurity during the pandemic.


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