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Take a break from stuffing your face with Halloween candy on Nov. 1 and celebrate Dia de Los Muertos at Coquette, a bakery and cafe that is scheduled to open that day in Portland’s Public Market House, 28 Monument Square.

Caitlin Olsen just moved here from New Mexico, and she’s brought Coquette with her. It’s a business she describes as a cafe, boutique bakery, coffee house and floral design studio. She’s calling her opening event “Autumn Masquerade,” and encourages customers to wear costumes. The fun starts at 10 a.m. on the second floor of the Public Market House, where Olsen will be selling her version of traditional Santa Fe-style biscochitos – butter cookies with cinnamon sugar. She layers hers with orxata cream.

Also available will be chocolate truffles and elixirs from Kakawa Chocolate House, a Santa Fe-based artisanal chocolatier. The elixers, according to Kakawa’s website, include drinking chocolates based upon recipes re-created from historical sources, from pre-Columbian to colonial American times.

A selection of Maine-grown flowers will be for sale, as well as dried flower sprays “nice for Thanksgiving,” Olsen said.

Olsen founded Coquette in Montauk, New York, in 2019. Her specialty was strawberry shortcake served in small mason jars decorated with fabric and ribbon. She still makes layered cakes in decorated jars – three of the recipes come from her Danish grandmother – and will be selling them at Coquette in Portland.

Olsen, who is originally from Wisconsin, arrived in Sante Fe just before the pandemic took hold. In addition to the complications brought by COVID, she found it hard to source seasonal, local foods there. How did she decide on Portland as the best place to relocate? Before moving to Santa Fe, she had taken a month-long trip around New England that included a week exploring Portland.

“I’ve lived in many different cities and countries, and I had an immediate positive reaction to this city that was profound to me,” she said. “It definitely struck me that I had not responded that quickly and that enthusiastically to a place, maybe ever.”

To learn more about Coquette, go to coquettecakes.com.

What’s next for Biddeford? The Liberty Bell?

Richie Ribeye’s will specialize in Philly cheesesteaks served with house-made sodas. Photo courtesy of Richie Ribeye’s

Richie Ribeye’s, which specializes in Philadelphia cheesesteaks, opens today at 137 Main St. in Biddeford.

Matthew Spence and Jennifer Blomquist opened a seasonal version of the restaurant in Old Orchard Beach in June. It did so well that they decided to open a year-round location.

Why cheesesteaks?

“It really is something that I love, and I noticed that there’s a gap in the market,” said Spence, who previously cooked at Andy’s Old Port Pub in Portland. “I’ve worked in a lot of restaurants, and they have very big menus, so we decided to just focus on one thing so we can do it well.”

The new location – the former home of Sublime Taco, which is moving to Washington Street – has 21 seats and is situated between Martini’s on Main and 5 Dollar Finn’s, Spence said, so customers can order their food and eat it in either bar. Hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.

Richie Ribeye’s cheesesteaks are served on sub rolls from Amoroso’s Baking Co., the roll of choice in Philadelphia, and are topped with Cheese Whiz. In addition to cheesesteaks, the menu includes quesadillas and house-made craft sodas in flavors such as black cherry, root beer and raspberry lime Rickey. On Saturdays and Sundays only, the restaurant will serve breakfast from 7 a.m. to noon. For the full menu, go to richieribeye.com.

This illustrated portrait of Richard Field, aka Richie Ribeye, hangs in the new Biddeford restaurant. Courtesy of Matthew Spence

So who is the Richie in Richie Ribeye’s? An old family friend of Spence’s who died in June, just two weeks after the Old Orchard Beach location opened. His name was Richard Field, and he gave his blessing for the restaurants to be named after him.

“He was telling me a story some six or seven years ago about how he used to be like a street hustler,” Spence explained. “This guy would sell a bottle of aspirin if he had it. He would go to the store and buy a big thing of ribeye. He would cut it up into pieces and go to the bars and sell them for $5 a piece and make his money back, and make money for some drinks. And his nickname became Richie Ribeye.”

In his obituary, his family wrote: “He was the salesman of all salespeople (he could sell anything).”

A photo of the real Richie Ribeye hangs in the Old Orchard Beach restaurant, and a cartoon version in the Biddeford restaurant.

Any time is Falafel Time

Falafel Time, a Middle Eastern takeout restaurant at 1053 Forest Ave., opened on Monday.

The menu includes sandwiches, such as a falafel burger and a chicken cheesesteak; a beef kebab plate with rice, hummus and salad; fattoush and tabbouleh salad bowls; sides such as baba ganoush and garlic naan; and several pizzas, including a halal pepperoni pizza. For a complete menu, go to falafeltimeme.com.

Hours are 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Mondays. The restaurant is closed Tuesdays.

Maine Mall acquires some soul

Now you can get your fried chicken and cornbread fix any day of the week. Soul Food Paradise held a grand opening at its new location in the Maine Mall food court Tuesday. The new hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week.

Do zombies drink beer?

Looking for something to do on “Halloweekend?” East Bayside businesses have planned a brewery crawl from noon to 9 p.m. Oct. 30 to raise money for Maine Needs. The nonprofit provides clothing, household goods and other necessities for people who face financial hardships while starting over, including domestic abuse survivors and asylum seekers.

Businesses participating in the East Bayside Halloween Fest will donate $1 per pour to the organization. Lots of Portland food trucks will be on hand. Register at eventbrite.com to receive a schedule or to donate.

Trunk or Treat

Got little goblins who are excited about Halloween? The Portland Police Department will hold its annual Trunk or Treat event Oct. 29. From 4 to 6 p.m., officers will hand out Halloween candy from their police cruisers at various locations around the city. Drop by one of these locations:

• Payson Park from 4 to 6 p.m., by the Little League field

• Riverton Park from 4 to 4:30 p.m.

• Sagamore Village from 4:45 to 5:15 p.m.

• Presumpscot School from 4 to 4:30 p.m.

• East Bayside Community Policing Center from 4:45 to 5:15 p.m.

• Munjoy South playground from 5:30 to 6 p.m.

• Reiche playground from 5:30 to 6 p.m.


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