Market manager Nick Nowell, left, and store manager Austin Mathis set up an interview tent in the Windham Mall parking lot this week. Kristen McNerney / Lakes Region Weekly

A number of new businesses are on their way to set up shop at the Windham Mall, including Starbucks, Chipotle and Sherman’s Maine Coast Bookshop.

T-Mobile will open next week to the left of Reny’s next week.

Sitting under a tent and canvassing job applicants early Tuesday afternoon in the mall parking lot was Nick Nowell, market manager for the new T-Mobile location, along with store manager Austin Mathis.

For employers, “it’s tough out there in the job market,” Nowell said.

With the closest T-Mobile located in Bangor, Nowell said the cell phone company doesn’t have a headquarters where it could conduct interviews, “so we’re doing it right here.”

Like many businesses, Nowell said the company has been struggling to find employees, but hired three on the spot so far at the tent.

Starbucks will operate out of the old Pizza Hut space in late September, and Chipotle is scheduled to move in between Thanksgiving and Christmas, said Jay Wise, of WRE Commercial Brokers, which owns the plaza.

Jersey Mike’s sandwich shop will open to the right of Marshall’s Sept. 15, and to the left of T-Mobile will be the local chain Sherman’s Maine Coast Book Shop, set to welcome customers at the end of September or early October, Wise said.

Portland Pie Company, operating since June 2020 adjacent to Route 302 at the east end of the plaza, has been “a great addition to the Windham community,” Wise said.

“Business has been fantastic,” said Portland Pie owner Pat Mulligan, who emphasized that the new enterprises are going to help his own.

“I don’t know how they’re (the new businesses) going to staff,” he cautioned.

Mulligan said Portland Pie Company has recently had to shorten its hours and condense its menu on certain days and sometimes lunch is not available.

“I find the local people extremely patient,” he said of the cutbacks, adding, “I would not call the tourists patient.”

Potential customers expressed both dismay and enthusiasm about the new businesses.

Some Facebook users on a community page said they were excited for Starbucks.

“Though I’d prefer a local coffee shop, North Windham has been sorely lacking a drive-thru or convenient coffee spot,” Jodi Beth Benvie said.

Others echoed Benvie’s sentiment about preferring to buy local.

“I’m happy about a bookstore coming to town, but I won’t visit the chain food places,” Sayzie Koldys said.

“No excitement about chain restaurants,” Mary A. Libby said. “Way too many.”

Others were more optimistic.

“Let’s welcome the new, at least give ’em a couple of tries,” said Judy Auston. “If you don’t like it, so be it.”

“Cannot wait,” Kayleigh Hajny said. “My husband and I just moved to Windham from Limerick, love Starbucks and Chipotle. I didn’t even know a bookstore was coming in but that’s great news, too.”

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