Rigby Yard launched a brunch service last weekend and will be open weekdays beginning next week. Photo courtesy of Brian Hanson

Rigby Yard, at 50 Wharf St. in Portland, which opened for weekends as a beer hall and restaurant in October, launched Sunday brunch on March 7. It plans to open weekdays, too, beginning Monday, as a “third space” concept providing a casual space to meet, relax and work, according to Brian Hanson, co-owner of Rigby Yard and Independent Ice Co.

Rigby Yard’s new hours will be from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, serving coffee and coffee drinks from Time & Tide coffee roasters in Biddeford. (The hall is open later hours on weekends, still serving beer, wine and cocktails.)  The food will include “light fare” and quick-serve breakfast and lunch items for eating in or takeout. The outdoor patio is expected to open April 1.

Hanson said the business is responding to demand for casual indoor spaces in the Old Port after the loss of indoor seating at other businesses, such as Arabica and Bam Bam Bakery, that have either closed or relocated.

More Openings and Closings

Gelato Fiasco, at 425 Fore St. in Portland, has closed for major renovations and will not reopen until fall, according to a letter the owners sent out recently to customers. Until then, they hope to hold a few spring and summer pop-ups in the city. The flagship store in Brunswick remains open for online ordering and curbside pick-up. When the Portland gelateria reopens, it will have a new storefront and patio.

When the Portland Thai restaurant Cheevitdee closed permanently at the end of February, the owners left fans with a taste of hope, writing in their goodbye message that the “spirit of Cheevitdee lives on. Details in the near future.” Now they’ve announced the creation of Mitr, which will serve Ping Yang Thai food, a style of street food typically grilled or charbroiled and sometimes served on skewers. The new restaurant is partnering with Mi Sen Noodle Bar to hold weekly Sunday pop-ups beginning this Sunday from 1 to 7 p.m. (or until they sell out). Order online at misennoodlebar.com or call (207) 747-4838.


Meanwhile, the owners are renovating the future location of the restaurant: 1281 Congress St., just off the I-295 exit 5.

Since mid-November, The Front Room at 73 Congress St. in Portland has offered takeout only. On Monday, owner Harding Smith shared his plans for reopening the place, as well as the other two “Rooms” restaurants in Portland. Smith, as I reported in August, has used the time during the pandemic to renovate his restaurants. He said he tentatively plans to reopen The Front Room in late April, followed by The Corner Room in mid-May, and then The Grill Room at either the end of May or early June.

Smith’s two restaurants at Sunday River have been open this winter, including his new apres ski place, The Last Run Room in the Grand Summit Hotel.

A daily (Wednesday through Sunday) brunch restaurant called Ruby’s West End has sublet space at 64 Pine St. in Portland and is expected to open April 7. On the restaurant’s website, rubyswestend.com, owners Matt and Corrinna Stum call it a blend of Midwestern and southern hospitality, and compare it to “Grandma’s house … a place of joy, laughter, meals at the table, and breakfast goodness like Dutch Babies.” The Stums are, respectively, from Indianapolis and southern Kentucky. Matt Stum has worked for chefs Jonathan Brooks and Jose Salazar in Indianapolis and Cincinnati. Corrinna Stum is a restaurant consultant who has opened and managed a number of restaurants in those cities. The couple moved to Maine last year. In addition to brunch, the Strums will be selling Ruby’s Meals, which are breakfast, lunch and dinner options ready for reheating.

The Stums say instead of tips, they will add an automatic 20 percent service charge to every check, along with a line for an additional, optional tip. The service charges will be shared equally among hourly employees, based on hours worked, while the tips on top of the service charge will be kept by the server or bartender who received it.

Kneading Conference update


The Maine Grain Alliance has announced the dates and keynote speaker for its 14th annual Kneading Conference, which is usually held in Skowhegan but will be online once again this year.

The conference will be held over five days, July 26-30, and feature workshops, discussions and panels.  If pandemic conditions allow, it will include hybrid in-person workshops. The keynote speaker will be Muhidin Libah of Liberation Farms, who is executive director and co-founder of the Somali Bantu Community Association of Maine. Workshops cost $50 each, or sign up for the whole conference for $250. To register, go to kneadingconference.com.

The Maine Artisan Bread Fair will be held on July 31 at the Skowhegan Fairgrounds, following health and safety guidelines similar to those used at Maine farmers markets.

Puzzling crime

An arrest has been made in the destruction of the farm stand at Swallowtail Farm and Creamery in Whitefield, but there’s no word yet on the motive. Police arrested Wayne Mullens, 47, owner of the front-end loader suspected of driving into the farm stand owned by Lauren and Sean Pignatello on Feb. 25. Mullens lives about a half-mile away from the farm stand. The GoFundMe account set up for the Pignatellos so that they can rebuild has raised more than $28,000.

Don’t @ me


In case you missed it, three Maine bagel shops made Food & Wine’s list of “The Best Bagels in America” last week, and Mainers had a lot to say about it – especially if one of the three wasn’t their own personal favorite spot to buy a bagel.

Scratch Baking Co. in South Portland, Rover Bagel in Biddeford, and Forage in Lewiston and Portland made the list, but not other favorites like Rose Foods in Portland or Maple’s in Yarmouth. The article conceded that other Maine spots also deserved a place on the list. Instead of complaining about the perceived snub on social media, maybe we should all just be happy that Maine took three of the 39 slots that went to businesses from coast to coast. That’s a pretty good showing.

Commercial kitchen for sale

Thinking of starting your own food business? Looking to open a ghost kitchen? Christina Carr, owner of Carr Eats, a meal delivery business, has put her commercial kitchen at 4 Pomerleau St. in Biddeford (just off Route 111) up for sale. Carr is stepping away from her business to raise her new son. The building is listed at $499,000.


St. Patrick’s Day is one week from today, and if you don’t feel like making your own corned beef and cabbage, local restaurants can help you out. My colleague Ray Routhier has written about three of them – the Frog & Turtle in Westbrook, O’Reilly’s Cure in Scarborough, and Ri Ra in Portland – in this week’s Maine Today Magazine, which will be published tomorrow (or find it online now, here.)


Here are a couple more options:

Samuel’s Bar & Grill, 1160 Forest Ave. in Portland, will be serving corned beef and cabbage, Irish stew and homemade Irish bangers. Look for specials on Guinness, Harp and Jameson.

Sebago Brewing got a head start: It’s celebrating St. Patrick’s Day during all of Maine Restaurant Week, which just so happens to end on March 17. The brew pubs are offering reimagined Irish dishes such as corned beef ravioli and Irish poutine. On March 17, a traditional corned beef dinner will be available, to be finished off with the stout ice cream float – a pint glass of Sebago’s Lake Trout Stout with vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of Bailey’s. Order either a la carte or as a $30 three-course meal from the Maine Restaurant Week menu. Takeout and delivery are available as well as dining in. Go to sebagobrewing.com to see the menu.

Pints for pooches 

Pandemic puppies are a thing, but you know who really needs a happy home and has far more trouble finding one? Senior dogs.

One of 10 labels for beer that raises money for Old Dogs New Digs. Photo courtesy of Island Dog Brewery

(Just think – no chewed-up shoes or house training.)

The Maine-based nonprofit Old Dogs New Digs is teaming up with South Portland’s Island Dog Brewing for a beer fundraiser. The brewery is releasing can labels with photos of 10 senior dogs (Big Ben, Teddy, Rocko and more), many of whom are looking for their forever homes. The brewery is also donating $10 from every four-pack sold to Old Dogs New Digs, which works mostly in Maine, Colorado, New Mexico and Costa Rica to help homeless and displaced senior dogs. The cans, filled with Silverhound Pale Ale, will be released March 20 at Island Dog Brewing, 125 John Roberts Road.

Food editor Peggy Grodinsky contributed to this story.

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