Lisa Plourd, owner of the Knitting Nook in South Portland, received the 2019 New Business of the Year Award. “Established by Plourd in Ferry Village, the Knitting Nook uniquely offers food, drinks, and knitting all in one cozy space,” said Tess Parks of the Economic Development Department. “More than your average yarn shop, the Knitting Nook brings together neighbors, community members, and local artists.” Courtesy photo Michael Strout

SOUTH PORTLAND — The Knitting Nook is a popular local place in South Portland’s Ferry Village has been forced to keep the outdoor patio closed due to the city of South Portland dropped the pandemic rules and now outdoor dining has new layers of bureaucracy.

“Flash forward to summer of 2022,” said owner of the Knitting Nook Lisa Plourd. “I sent in the same application that I had used in the previous two years back in April explaining that my plans were to resume al fresco dining in late May. I did not hear from anyone for almost six weeks. The email I finally received stated that the emergency seating ordinance had expired in October (apparently COVID isn’t a thing to the city any longer) and that I would need to pursue  another route if I wanted to seat outside.

“I was not given any instruction as to how this should happen or even who I should contact. After another three weeks and countless emails later I was finally connected with someone who wished to assist me.”

Plourd said she was sent from one office to the next, told to bring forms in multiple paper copies, and finally gave up in frustration.

According to Plourd, she was given a PDF for a building permit and was told that she needed to amend the building site plans that her landlord had submitted years back.  She was given the parking survey and the original building plans by email (in PDF form), along with the PDF she had to send in permission from her landlord as well as a check for  $25.

“This didn’t really make much sense to me, but I went and printed out voluminous amounts of paper (much was already on file with the city) and took a trip over to code enforcement as stated,” said Plourd. “I also brought a blank check because I had a strong suspicion that the amount would most likely go up. When I entered the building, four different employees including the code enforcement officer were perplexed as to why I was told to do this. I was told that someone would be out to inspect my site either the next day or the day after and that if things hadn’t changed my license would be issued.


“Naturally, I received a call from someone telling me that the entire packet I had sent was not correct and that I should come in for the appropriate one along with a check for $50 and then it would be three to four weeks for review.”

The Knitting Nook, a yarn and knitting shop, opened in July 2018.

It is also a place where locals can go to get homemade Italians, salads, a beer or glass of wine. Lots of boaters stop in for sandwiches to go. During the pandemic, Plourde was able to use the patio area for serving customers. It became a real hub with families, teens,  young couples and everyone else in the area.

“Like most other small businesses, 2020 was a devastating blow,” said Plourde. “Not only did I get COVID very early in the pandemic, but I was also faced with the very real issue of not being able to make a go of my dream. I had only been open for just over a year when things went awry. My landlord asked me what I was going to do and I quite frankly had no idea what that was going to be.

“Luckily, they suggested that I use the back parking lot and serve outside. After a bit of a hassle and much deliberation from city council the emergency seating ordinance was passed and restaurants and cafes were given the green light to seat outside with very little oversight.”

To this date, Plourde has yet to call the city back.

“Luckily, I have been able to maintain a steady stream of customers and stay afloat this summer,” said Plourde. “In spite of the city being impossible to deal with.”

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