Blaze Pizza, a California-based pizza chain, is opening locations in Portland, Westbrook and Brunswick, the company announced Tuesday. The building shown above is the Blaze location in Bay Shore, N.Y. Photo courtesy of Blaze Pizza

California-based chain Blaze Pizza plans to open its first three Maine locations in Westbrook, Brunswick and Portland, the company announced Tuesday.

Jeffrey Martin of Wildfire Restaurant Group in Falmouth and his wife, Kirsten Martin, will oversee business operations for the three new fast-casual pizza restaurants. Blaze offered no timeline for the openings beyond “the near future,” and Martin was not available for comment before deadline.

Blaze Pizza started in 2011, and has since grown to 340 restaurants in 38 states and six countries. The chain was styled after Chipotle, and applied its customizable, made-to-order approach to their pizzas, which cook in about three minutes.

Martin, a Maine native, has worked in real estate management and has experience as a Jersey Mike’s franchisee, according to Blaze.


Two Maine businesses have each been awarded $200,000 grants from the U. S. Department of Agriculture to pay for expansions and operational improvements that will enable or improve meat and poultry inspection and processing at their operations.


The department announced Wednesday that Food Fork Lab, a shared-use kitchen incubator in Portland, and Olde Haven Farm in Chelsea were awarded the grant funding as part of the federal Meat and Poultry Inspection Readiness Grant Program, which earmarked $21.9 million to 111 eligible projects nationwide.

The grant will allow Food Fork Lab, which is expanding to a 42,000-square-foot facility in South Portland, to develop the first shared-use kitchen in New England with dedicated space for meat processing covered by a Federal Grant of Inspection. The funds will also let Food Fork Lab buy specialized equipment; help five processors obtain their own federal grants for wholesale distribution; assist as many as eight meat and poultry processor startup businesses; and establish training and technical assistance protocols for future wholesale processors.

Olde Haven Farm, one of the largest pasture-based pork operations in Maine, had been seeking money to expand capacity and operate under the Cooperative Interstate Shipping program. The farm’s planned improvements will make processing services more available to other livestock growers in both Maine and New Hampshire, where there is unmet demand for inspected-processing capacity, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

This is the second round of funding from the federal government through the meat inspection grant program this year. The program previously awarded $200,000 grants to Hatch’s Custom Meat Cutting in Crystal, Nest & Mullen in Kennebunk and Rooney’s Meat Shop in Mapleton.

The federal government’s Meat and Poultry Inspection Readiness Grant Program has so far awarded $54.6 million this year to expansion and improvement projects in 37 states.



After seven years at 906 Brighton Ave., The Sinful Kitchen has moved to a new location four doors down that gives the popular breakfast and brunch spot more room.

The Sinful Kitchen has moved to a new home at 952 Brighton Ave., its facade painted with a “Welcome to Portland” breakfast-themed mural. Photo courtesy of The Sinful Kitchen

Co-owner Denae Mallari said the restaurant reopened in its new space July 4, following a move undertaken over a couple of weeks. The façade of Sinful Kitchen’s new building, which formerly housed a Subway sandwich shop, features an eye-catching, breakfast-themed “Welcome to Portland” mural painted over three days by local artist Mike Rich. The new location sits near the Portland/Westbrook town line.

The new Sinful Kitchen building is stand-alone, compared to its previous three-story multi-use building with apartments.

“We just grew out of it, as far as what our needs are,” Mallari said. The new location has 39 seats, a few more than the original space, along with a five-seat bar for walk-ins waiting for a table. Mallari said the restaurant is now fully wheelchair accessible, unlike before.

The Sinful Kitchen’s new home has improved parking and some outdoor seating. The site’s kitchen is about four times larger as well, making it easier for Mallari’s husband, Chef Dave Mallari, and his staff to put out orders at the bustling venue, as well as to expand their menu offerings.



Farms for Food Equity, an organization started in 2020 to end hunger in Maine, is holding a benefit dinner in September in Cape Elizabeth.

Slated for Tuesday, Sept. 13, at The Well at Jordan’s Farm, the event offers three seatings starting at 5:30 p.m. Tickets cost $225, with $150 of each sale to go toward buying food from partnered farms to distribute to food pantries, food banks and other groups addressing Maine’s food insecurity.

Chef Jason Williams, owner of The Well at Jordan’s Farm, will prepare a five-course tasting menu for the dinner. Two members of Farms for Food Equity will join each seating so diners may learn more about the group’s mission, which also includes building a trained workforce for the state’s farms and reducing food waste.


Marking its 10th anniversary, Maine Grains is hosting an event in Skowhegan next month to highlight how local businesses put the company’s whole grains and flours to use.

The celebration on Court Street is set for Saturday, Sept. 10, coinciding with the Skowhegan Farmers’ Market that kicks off at 9 a.m. Attractions include a pasta demo from The Maine Meal at 11 a.m., and a pizza demo with The Good Crust at noon.

Maine Grains president and CEO Amber Lambke will give remarks at 10 a.m., and the event also features live fiddle music from Frigate, and yard games.

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