Elsmere BBQ on Stevens Avenue in Portland hosted its first nonprofit night since the start of the pandemic on Feb. 19, raising nearly $1,000 for the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland with an event dubbed Frosty Paws for a Cause.

“We were brainstorming something to do outside and came up with the ice bar idea,” said Jeremy Rush, one of the owners of Elsmere. “And you can’t go wrong with helping out animals.”

The restaurant donated 8% of sales on food and drinks for a four-hour period. Rwanda Bean donated coffee beans for espresso martinis. And Allagash donated beer, with Allagash purchases going directly to the cause.

“Elsmere is a great account of our ours, and it’s for a great nonprofit,” said Naomi Neville, sales director for Allagash Brewing Co.

Everything came together really well, said Rush, thanking ice sculptor Jake Knight, KDK Consulting and Abbie McGilvery of The Nest Social Media.

It was a social time not just for the humans, enjoying barbecue and Barktinis, but for all the dogs, some on intentionally short leashes in close proximity.


Adam Victor of Portland said that volunteering at the shelter during the pandemic was “centering.” Others talked about adopting a cat or dog there, calling with questions about dog (dis)obedience, or hosting an animal-themed birthday party.

“We’re all animal lovers and want to support the cause,” said Sophia Nappi, hanging out with a Bernese mountain dog named Chezwick.

“I’m just blown away by how many animals they take in and find homes for,” said Brenda Brush of Portland.

Ellen Berube of Scarborough said that she was volunteering as a long-term foster for a Great Dane named Bess, who looks like a cow, and recently adopted her. “I love the Refuge League,” she said. “The quality of care that the animals receive is unbelievable.”

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer based in Scarborough. She can be reached at [email protected]

This story was updated at 10:46 a.m. March 14 to correction the spellings of several names.

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