People wait in line Monday to order on the first day of the season for South Portland staple Red’s Dairy Freeze. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Let the groundhog and the bobbin’ robin do what they will. In these parts, people know spring is finally here when Red’s Dairy Freeze reopens for the season, which it did Monday for the 70th year.

The legendary South Portland ice cream shop announced the reopening on social media just hours beforehand.

Commenters flooded Red’s Facebook page Monday with gleeful posts. Some asked about the sherbet flavor of the day (blue raspberry), while others showed off pictures of their opening-day shakes, ice cream cookies and sundaes.

Calypso, 5, enjoys a chocolate vanilla swirl with rainbow sprinkles after getting the treat with her mom, Nicole Jardis, at Red’s Dairy Freeze. Jardis said her daughter has been asking almost every day if Red’s was open, and she promised her they would get ice cream on the day the stand opened for the season. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Chuck Igo of South Portland summed up the sentiments of many Red’s fans when he posted to the shop’s Facebook page, “As George Harrison wrote and sang: ‘… it’s been a long, cold lonely winter … it feels like years since (you’ve) been here!'”

Igo is a member of the South Portland Historical Society, which honored Red’s by featuring it on its keepsake holiday ornament in 2017, a testament to the shop’s hold on local heartstrings.

Tandem Coffee + Bakery in Portland stands among the world’s best independent coffee shops, according to a new Financial Times story. John Ewing/Staff Photographer file

Global praise for Tandem Coffee + Bakery 


Two-time Maine gubernatorial candidate and Press Herald reader Eliot Cutler wrote in with a tip last week. Cutler said he was browsing the weekend edition of the Financial Times, the London-based international business newspaper, when he came across a feature, “The Best Independent Coffee Shops in the World.”

There, listed among 25 standout shops from Beirut to Bogota, New York to San Francisco, and Palermo to Paris, is a writeup of Portland’s Tandem Coffee + Bakery at 742 Congress St. The reviewer notes the charm of its renovated building, a 1960s gas station-turned-laundromat. Inside, though, “Tandem is a thoroughly modern third-wave coffee shop” that “regularly draws long queues, and popular baked goods sell out early (an unsurprising feat, given its James Beard-nominated head baker” Briana Holt), the reviewer wrote.

The Financial Times is not the first glowing, big-publication review for Tandem and Holt. Holt was labeled a “pastry genius” by editors of Bon Appetit magazine in 2015. The magazine included Tandem in its list of America’s 50 Best New Restaurants that year.

But what struck Cutler about Tandem’s major league mention in the Financial Times is that, like the global cosmopolitan centers on the list such as Los Angeles, Tokyo and Cape Town, Portland goes by its first name only in the piece, not Portland, Maine, to distinguish it from the Oregonian version.

“What’s impressive, beyond Tandem’s very inclusion in this worldwide list, is the company of cities that Portland keeps here – and the FT’s determination that when talking about food and beverages, they don’t even need to mention the state … as though we’re the only Portland worthy of mention!” Cutler wrote.

Bar Futo to open in Portland


The team behind Portland’s Mr. Tuna and Crispy Gai plans to open Bar Futo in Portland this summer.

The Japanese-inspired bar and grill will be located in the Old Port at 425 Fore St., a space last occupied by Five Guys. This will be the third restaurant launch for chef-partner Jordan Rubin and partner Marisa Lewiecki. They opened Mr. Tuna in 2018 and Crispy Gai last year.

“This has been in the works for six months now,” said Rubin, noting that he and Lewiecki were happy to find another Old Port location. “We love being right in the middle of things.”

Bar Futo will have about 2,600 square feet on Fore Street, which Rubin says amounts to more than 60 indoor dining seats. The restaurant also will have outdoor patio seating for around 25.

The bar program will offer an extensive sake list, along with cocktails. The menu will feature skewers, large cuts of meat and whole fish grilled over Japanese charcoal, with Chef de Cuisine Ian Driscoll leading the kitchen.

A Maine native, Driscoll has cooked at Portland’s Eventide Oyster Co., and has worked as chef de cuisine at Central Provisions, where he and Rubin first met. “We’ve been friends ever since, and he shares my passion for Japanese food,” Rubin said.


White Barn Inn lands new chef

Kennebunk’s White Barn Inn, Auberge Resorts Collection, announced Tuesday that Matthew Woolf has been named the property’s executive chef. Woolf had previously run kitchens in Los Angeles at FIG restaurant and Gordon Ramsey’s The Fat Cow. He comes directly from New York City, where he spent seven years as executive chef at the iconic Rainbow Room.

White Barn Inn has been a fine-dining destination since 1973, and has received both the AAA Five Diamond and Forbes Five Star awards.

“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to work at White Barn Inn and meld modern American cuisine with coastal luxury,” Woolf said in a prepared statement.

Netflix airs “Bad Vegan”

A Netflix documentary series premiering Wednesday, “Bad Vegan: Fame. Fraud. Fugitives,” features a Maine connection.


The four-part series tells the story of Sarma Melngailis, who ran the New York vegan and raw food restaurant Pure Food and Wine, a celebrity hangout that she opened with chef and Maine native Matthew Kenney in 2004 when Melngailis and Kenney were a couple. They split the following year, and Melngailis bought Kenney out.

In 2011, she met Anthony Strangis. “At the time, Strangis called himself Shane Fox and claimed to be wealthy from his involvement in secret government black ops, about which he was not at liberty to speak,” according to a piece in New York magazine.

From that point on, Melngailis and her restaurant’s story became increasingly weird. The series examines her allegations that Strangis manipulated her, how she came to believe in immortality and her guilty pleas to theft and fraud charges in 2017. Chris Smith, executive producer of “Tiger King,” directed the documentary.

Split the Seafood Bill Week coming

The Gulf of Maine Research Institute has announced a new promotional event, Split the Seafood Bill Week, which will run from March 21-27 at 24 area restaurants.

As part of the promotion, the institute will give away 300 $30 gift cards to diners ordering seafood at any of the participating restaurants.


The weeklong event comes in response to the past successes of similar one-day promotions. The institute launched the first Split the Seafood Bill Day on Dec. 16, 2020, as a way to bolster sales of seafood during the pandemic. When participating restaurants reported a significant bump in business, the institute held another another Split the Seafood Bill Day last year.

“This program has shown great potential as a way to support the seafood industry and bring awareness to the struggles they have faced for the past two years,” said Kyle Foley, sustainable seafood senior program manager at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute. “We think making this a weeklong event will mean even more people can participate, hopefully trying a restaurant they’ve never been to before.”

Officials behind the promotion said that while the restaurant industry is no longer dealing with the closures it did in 2020, COVID-19 continues to make business challenging.

“When our restaurant industry struggles, the seafood industry struggles,” Foley said. “Just as working waterfronts are part of the cultural and economic bedrock of the Gulf of Maine region, restaurants play a critical role in our communities.”

To participate, diners can order seafood (or seafood takeout) from one of the partnering restaurants, take a photo of their itemized receipt, then submit it through the institute’s website for a chance to win a $30 Visa gift card. Participating restaurants are also listed on the institute’s site.

Program officials encouraged diners to spread the word by posting a photo of their meal with the hashtag #SplitTheSeafoodBill and tagging the institute on social media.

Northern hospitality: neatness and speed count

The Maine Lodging and Restaurant Expo will feature a new event this year: a bed-making and tray-balancing competition.

Dubbed the Hospitality Hustle, the event is open to any professional entrants from within the dining and lodging industry, according to Kathleen Pierce, spokesperson for event organizer HospitalityMaine. The Hospitality Hustle is set for next Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Cross Insurance Arena, where the expo is based.

“We were trying to think how we could make the expo a little more fun,” Pierce said, explaining the thinking behind the new competition. “We’re hoping it’ll bring a little fun and excitement.”

The housekeeping portion of the event pits bedmakers against the clock to see who can make a bed tidy the fastest. The tray-balancing portion challenges servers to take a tray of full martini glasses through an obstacle course, battling both the clock and drink spills. Pierce said cash prizes will be awarded to winners, though she wasn’t able to confirm the amounts before press time.

The annual trade show returns this year for the first time since 2019.

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