Maybe this time, there will be a hole-in-one. The Portland City Council last week approved the licenses for a new restaurant at the Riverside Municipal Golf Course.

The Club at Riverside will replace Riverside Grill, which closed Nov. 22. The city owns the building at 1158 Riverside St. and previously managed the restaurants there, but has now decided to take a step back and simply be a landlord. The space has been leased to Jessica Lynn Toher of Portland. Toher did not immediately return an email and phone calls requesting more information, but according to her application to the city she plans to open a pub-style restaurant with a full bar that will have entertainment both indoors (including karaoke) and outside. It’s unclear whether she has previous experience running a restaurant, but according to the Facebook page for The Club at Riverside, she was a regular customer at the former Riverside Grill.

“In 2017 we moved less than a mile from the Riverside Golf Course and we would frequently visit Riverside Grill,” Toher wrote. “Whether it was a family dinner or a sunset nightcap with friends, memories were always made. This space has owned my heart since then.”

Toher’s original target opening date was June 1, but the opening has been delayed because her City Council hearing was scheduled for June 7.

Clean Eatz meets Scarborough

Robert Fontes of Cape Neddick has opened a Scarborough franchise of Clean Eatz, a “healthy lifestyle restaurant” that serves meals with a balance of protein, carbs and fats.

Clean Eatz, located at 300 Gallery Blvd., has a 22-seat cafe but also offers grab-and-go foods, catering, and bulk prepackaged, heat-and-eat meals for pick-up, all for people who want to eat better or who have dietary restrictions. The menu includes salads, wraps, smoothies, flatbreads, build-your-own bowls, and burgers made from turkey, black beans, salmon or bison.

Fontes went to culinary school in San Francisco and worked at restaurants in San Diego before working as a general contractor for almost 20 years. In 2001, he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and started taking medication, but also decided, “I’ve got to have an active role in my own wellness, so I’ve got to stop eating the fast food,” he said, “and try, from a diet perspective, to take better care of myself.”

Changing his diet noticeably improved his overall health, Fontes said. It also helped him compete in cycling races, such as the 3,100-mile Race Across America in 2016. “To train for that, I had to pay very close attention to how I was eating and what I was eating,” Fontes said. “I was working with a nutritionist, and I had to eat almost 4,000 calories a day. To try to keep track of that was an absolute nightmare.”

Then Fontes and his wife, living in Raleigh, N.C., at the time, discovered Clean Eatz, where ingredients and calorie counts are made clear on the menu. They became regular customers. When they moved to Maine, they decided to open their own franchise – the first Clean Eatz in Maine.

Hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

The Grill Room reopens

The Grill Room and Bar at 84 Exchange St. in Portland reopened late last week. The restaurant will be open from 5 to 9 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, with happy hour from 4 to 6 p.m.

Harding Smith, owner of The Rooms restaurants, said The Corner Room at 110 Exchange St. is ready to open but staffing issues are keeping it closed for now. The chef from The Corner Room, he said, has been helping with the reopening of The Grill Room. The Front Room at 73 Congress St. reopened in early May. Smith said the entire staff at that restaurant has returned to work.

International market closes

D Ajan’s Supermarket at 170 Brighton Ave. in Portland has closed. The grocery store specialized in American, Pakistani, Indian and Middle Eastern products, including halal meats. It opened in October.

Plant-based pop-up

S+P, the plant-based cooking business based at Fork Food Lab in Portland, will host a pop-up dinner Monday at Little Giant, 211 Danforth St., also in Portland.

The seven-course tasting menu costs $75 and includes dishes such as “Chick’n” and Waffles, Dumplings Two Ways, and Fig Caponata. Seating times will be at 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Buy tickets through Open Table at bit.ly/3waKmpz.

A serving of 12 oysters – six different varieties – from Maine Oyster Co. Staff photo by Ben McCanna

Blazing a new trail

The Maine Oyster Trail relaunched on Monday after a makeover. Inspired by the Maine Beer Trail, the oyster trail has a new website (maineoystertrail.com), new interactive components, and a new incentive system so you can reward yourself for eating oysters.

An online trip planner allows you to customize your “oyster experience,” choosing from activities such as oyster farm tours and visits to raw bars or mobile shuck trucks in coastal regions of Maine. “You can filter those experiences based on different criteria and send yourself an itinerary,” says Afton Hupper of the Maine Aquaculture Association.

The website features 75 Maine oyster-related businesses, including those where visitors can buy oysters directly from farmers. Join the mobile Oyster Passport program, and every time you check in at a business you’ll earn points toward oyster swag, such as Maine Oyster Trail koozies, baseball hats and canvas tote bags.

When it launched in 2017, the Maine Oyster Trail was basically an exhaustive list of every Maine oyster farm and Maine restaurant that sold oysters. The new version is believed to be one of a kind.

“To my knowledge, it’s the first oyster trail in the country to have an interactive trip planner component as well as a reward structure,” Hupper said.

Big tippers

On Saturday, a couple came into Rí Rá Irish Pub and Restaurant in Portland and ordered nachos, a couple of chicken sandwiches, and a pint of Magners Irish cider. The bill came to $55.50. They left a $1,000 tip, following in the footsteps of the generous diner who left a $1,400 tip at Bird & Co. in December and a Maine restaurant recruiting company that also tips generously. The pandemic may have brought out the worst in us, but it has also brought out the best.


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