Film director Martin Scorsese, third from left, poses with the staff of Abel’s Lobster on Mount Desert Island. Photo courtesy of Abel’s Lobster

People vacationing in Maine like to keep their eyes open for wildlife. Spotting a moose, a bear, or a bald eagle can be a big thrill.

Mainers? Their summer pastime is celebrity spotting, and some of them got a big thrill Friday when renowned film director Martin Scorsese showed up with his family to enjoy dinner at Abel’s Lobster on Mount Desert Island.

The director of such American classics as “Taxi Driver,” “Raging Bull” and “Goodfellas” is apparently vacationing in the area. That same day, he posted a dashing photo of himself on Instagram wearing a bright blue-and-white checked shirt and brown fedora as he relaxed on a boat (yacht?) somewhere off the coast of Northeast Harbor.

Mandy Fountaine, owner of Abel’s, called Scorsese’s visit “a little morale booster.”

“We knew he was coming because he made a reservation,” she said, “but none of the customers even knew he was there.”

The staff did recognize him, however, and asked for a group photo.

“He was very nice,” Fountaine said. “He was just like any other customer.”

Have you spotted any celebrities dining in a Maine restaurant this summer? Email me the details at [email protected], and I’ll share them in a future column.

Every ending a new beginning

Garrett FitzGerald, owner of the Bar Harbor Lobster Co., is opening a second location in Portland, at 199 West Commercial St., the former home of Benny’s Famous Fried Clams.

The seasonal seafood restaurant will have four tables on the deck and eight picnic tables elsewhere on the property. But you’ll have to wait until next year to sample its clam chowder, lobster rolls, and clam and shrimp baskets.

“I had hoped to open this season,” FitzGerald said, “but making sure the other location was doing things safely and properly took most of my time. I decided, basically in early August, that it was going to be too tight to properly open this year.”

FitzGerald added that the restaurant should be fully permitted and licensed in the next couple of months, so he’ll have plenty of time to prepare it over the winter for next spring. He said he may also do some “fun takeout” over the holidays.

FitzGerald is also the owner of Royale Lunch Bar on Union Street, and the former Portland & Rochester Pub on Preble Street, now the home of Coals Portland.

He just informed me that Royale Lunch Bar’s closure will be permanent. The pandemic, he said, “was way too much for that little place, sadly.”

Speckled Axes

Matt Bolinder, owner of the Speckled Ax coffee shop on Congress Street in Portland, plans to open a second coffee shop – and café – at 18 Thames St.

The new business, also called Speckled Ax, will be a larger venture and include a prep kitchen so it can serve breakfast, lunch and pastries as well as coffee and a limited selection of wine and beer. Bolinder said the café, which can seat 35 during normal times, will open for takeout sometime in the next two weeks, “shooting for sooner.”

Banded Brewing coming to Portland

Banded Brewing Co. in Biddeford is opening a five-barrel pilot brewhouse, small tasting room and outdoor patio at 82 Hanover St. in Portland. Before social distancing, the patio will have 63 seats, and indoor seating for 67.

Owner Ian McConnell says he’s hoping the new brewery will open in mid-September.

And in bakery news …

Little Lad’s, the vegan bakery known for its addictive herbal popcorn and toaster oven cookies, announced Friday that it has purchased the former Camden National Bank in Corinth and plans to turn it into a retail store.

Owner Maria Fleming says she will sell all of Little Lad’s products, plus the ingredients to make those products – flour, nuts, seeds and so on – at the store, which is being renovated. Sandwiches, soups, salads and other grab-and-go foods also will be available. Since the building used to be a bank, Fleming plans to make use of the drive-thru window, so customers can grab their fruit pies and popcorn the way carnivores grab burgers and fries at fast food joints. (Could this be the first vegan drive-thru in the country? Hmmm …)

Fleming suggests keeping an eye on the bakery’s Facebook page for updates on when the store will open.

If you’ve noticed a “For Lease” sign at 267 Commercial St. in Portland, yes, Bam Bam Bakery is looking for a new home. Fans needn’t worry that it’s closing, however; owner Tina Cromwell says the gluten-free business is doing well despite the pandemic. (Hey, people who eat gluten-free need their comfort carbs just like the rest of us!)

Cromwell says she’s moving because she “needs a more reasonable rent in a space better suited to act as a professional kitchen. I’m feeling pretty lucky to be able to restructure at this time.”

Goodbye to the Blue Spoon Café – for now?

The Blue Spoon Café at 64 Pine St. in Portland has vacated the premises, and the building is up for sale or lease.

The West End building, also the former home of Aurora Provisions, was sold in January 2019 for $1,075,000 to local developer Tom Landry, who has put the building back up for sale for $1,495,000, or for lease at $4,950 per month.

Liz Koenigsberg, who owned the cafe with her husband Will Lavey, says they were in a short-term lease that ran only through August. They left the space a little early because of the pandemic and decided to focus their efforts on their other restaurant, the popular Blue Spoon in Portland’s East End (which is open for indoor and outdoor dining, as well as takeout) and their catering company. As for the future of the cafe, she said they are not making any decisions until restrictions ease up, but they may reopen in a new space “if the right one becomes available.”

Maine companies win sofi Awards

Atlantic Sea Farm’s fermented seaweed salad won a best new product sofi Award this year. Photo courtesy of Atlantic Sea Farms

Three Maine food producers – makers of fermented seaweed salad, apple cider vinegar and honey tea – recently brought home sofi Awards from the Specialty Food Association.

The sofi Awards, held this year at the Rutgers Food Innovation Center in New Jersey, began in 1972. Sofi stands for “specialty outstanding food innovation.” Nearly 2,000 entries were submitted in 49 categories and judged by a panel of experts in blind tastings that were supposed to begin in March but were postponed until late July because of the pandemic. Winners are usually feted at the Summer Fancy Food Show in June, but that event was canceled this year, and the results were announced in late August.

Three of the 157 winners were from Maine. Atlantic Sea Farms won the best new product award in the Pickles & Olives category for its fermented seafood salad. New product awards are judged 60 percent on taste, 20 percent on ingredient quality and 20 percent on innovation.

Vermont Village Organic Apple Cider Vinegar, made with honey and ginger, won the bronze in the Functional Beverages category for Stonewall Kitchen in York (which is a couple hundred miles from Vermont). And New Sunrise Tea – made with turmeric, black pepper, ginger, licorice, orange and lemon peel, and coconut milk – won the silver sofi in the Tea category for Zen Bear Honey Tea in Bath. Products competing for gold, silver and bronze awards are judged 70 percent on taste and 30 percent on the quality of ingredients.

PPP canceled (not that one!)
If you were planning on attending the Pickles Preserves and Pies event at McLaughlin’s Seafood Shack in Lincolnville Beach on Oct. 3, it’s been canceled due to lack of vendor interest. The event was a fundraiser for the Lincolnville Business Group Scholarship Fund.


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