The B.good restaurant at 15 Exchange St. in Portland, which sells burgers, sandwiches and salads, is undergoing a transformation into a taqueria.

Lupita’s Taqueria will serve a variety of tacos; snacks such as guacamole, chips and salsa, and street corn; and drinks such as margaritas and micheladas. The target opening date is June 22.

Owner Bill Zolper said low sales during the pandemic forced the change, which was inspired by his wife Alejandra’s Colombian heritage. The couple flew a chef who has run taquerias in London and Medellín up to Maine to create a menu for the Old Port restaurant.

Zolper also owns the b.good franchise at 200 Gorham Road in South Portland, which will remain open and continue serving burgers and fries.

“We’re excited to get open (in the Old Port), and we’re really excited for the summer,” Zolper said. “You can feel it coming alive down here a little bit.”

It’s a restaurant, not a cellphone plan

A restaurant and market called Friends & Family is planned for the former Vinland space at 593 Congress St. in Portland’s Arts District.

Co-owners Cecily Upton and Michael Malyniwsky said in their restaurant license application with the city that they plan to serve a lunch and dinner menu of “hearty dishes, meat and cheese boards, and other tasty snacks,” along with a selection of natural wines, local beers and non-alcoholic beverages. They also plan to incorporate a small market into the space that will carry specialty food products from Maine and elsewhere. Hours will be 11 a.m to 8 p.m. Thursdays through Mondays.

Upton is a co-founder of the national non-profit FoodCorps. Malyniwsky, a native of Canada, is a 26-year veteran of  fine dining, casual restaurants, corporate dining and catering.

The target opening date is July 1.

Belleville is working on it. Meanwhile …

If you’ve been missing Belleville’s pastries and pizza, you’re not alone. The bakery at 1 North St. on Portland’s East End is still closed while the owners continue to “rework” the business, which has been in “survival mode” during the pandemic, according to its social media. But Belleville announced it will host a few scheduled pop-ups this summer to tide your tastebuds over. Look for a pop-up on June 28. Details have not yet been revealed, but the owners promise in an Instagram post that “we will make it worth it.”

A match made in Freeport

A popular Portland sushi chef has teamed up with an East Bayside craft brewery to buy a Freeport building where they plan to open an izakaya-style Japanese restaurant and a brewery tasting room next fall. The owners of Mr. Tuna and Goodfire Brewing Co. recently closed on the building at 117 Route 1, the former home of El Jefe Taco Bar and Conundrum Wine Bistro. Conundrum closed in June 2019 and El Jefe never reopened after closing for the winter.

Jordan Rubin, owner of Mr. Tuna, plans to offer the hand rolls and similar sushi options that he serves at the Public Market House in Portland, but also ramen, yakitori, small plates, cocktails, sake and, “a lot of Goodfire beer.” The restaurant will seat about 40 inside, mostly counter seating, and at least 30 more in a four-season patio behind the building.

Rubin said he plans to keep his Public Market House location, which will reopen for indoor seating on Thursday.

A closure in East Deering

Je’s Neighborhood Store, a casual sandwich shop at 46 Veranda St. in Portland’s East Deering neighborhood, appears to have closed after less than a year. The business’ Facebook page has been removed, and the phone number is out of service. Jamie Brichetto opened Je’s in July 2020.

Pastry dispatch from Portland Pottery Cafe

Portland Pottery Cafe, at 118 Washington Ave. in Portland, which is now open for both indoor and outdoor dining, has hired a pastry chef. Patrick Jones, who specializes in European pastries, will be joining baker Bob Cameron in the cafe’s bakery. According to a news release, Jones worked with Cameron for years at Aurora Provisions on Portland’s West End. Most recently, he was at Tuscan Table in South Portland.

Summer sampler series

The food entrepreneurs who use the commercial kitchen space at Fork Food Lab in Portland will host a series of three outdoor sampling events this summer for customers to try their food and buy their products.

The admission price for the events, which will be held in the parking lot at 72 Parris St., is $10, which includes a small sample from each vendor; a beer, wine or seltzer; and a tote bag. Some vendors will offer $5 plates in addition to the samples.

The events will be held from 4-7 p.m. on three Wednesdays – June 23, July 21 and Aug. 18. The dozen or so vendors attending the June 23 sampler include The Big Bad Food truck (barbecue), Niyat Catering (Ethiopian food), Simmer & Bloom (herb-infused shortbread cookies); the Empanada Club; and Galactic Hobo Hot Sauce.

Whole Foods will donate $10 to Fork Food Lab for every ticket sold. To buy a ticket, go to forkfoodlab.com and click on events.

Feeding hungry children

Full Plates Full Potential, a Maine-based nonprofit that fights childhood hunger, recently awarded $422,907 in grants to support summertime child nutrition programs in 64 school districts and community organizations, an increase of $20,000 over last year.

It marks the first time in the nonprofit’s history that it’s been able to fully fund all eligible grant applications to its Summer Meals program. The funds go toward activities such as opening new meal sites and launching or expanding alternative meal service models (such as delivering meals to children at home).

Ramsay rocks it in Maine

A reminder that the Maine episode of “Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted” airs on the National Geographic Channel on Sunday at 9 p.m. During his visit to the midcoast, Ramsay spent time harvesting seaweed with Primo chef Melissa Kelly; catching lobsters with Heather Thompson and Hilary Oliver aboard the Gold Digger; harvesting oysters with Adam Campbell on North Haven; and more. To whet your appetite, here are some photos from the show, and a video clip:

Zeb Campbell and Gordon Ramsay prepare to harvest clams on North Haven. National Geographic/Justin Mandel

Chef Melissa Kelly harvests seaweed with Gordon Ramsay. National Geographic/Justin Mandel

Chef Melissa Kelly checks on her clams steaming under seaweed while Gordon Ramsay tends to his clam and lobster stew during the final cook. National Geographic/Justin Mandel

Chef Melissa Kelly and Gordon Ramsay present their dishes during the final cook. National Geographic/Justin Mandel


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