The state’s first Friendly Toast, the 10th restaurant in the regional New England chain, is slated to open in Portland’s Old Port on Monday. The restaurant, at 211 Fore St., will serve an all-day brunch and drinks menu seven days a week. The Portland branch, with the chain’s signature nostalgic vintage decor, seats 200 customers in the dining room and another 40 on a patio.

A branch of Friendly Toast, shown here in Dedham, Massachusetts, is to open next week in Portland. The restaurant will serve brunch all day. Stout Heart

“Portland is a natural place for us to be,” said Eric Goodwin, who co-owns the chain with Scott Pulver. “Portland is an amazing restaurant and foodie town, and we’re excited to be in that kind of environment. It’s a great spot for a restaurant like Friendly Toast.”

The menu, as at other Friendly Toast locations in New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Vermont, includes eggs, avocado toast, chicken and waffles, a smoked salmon “benny” and exuberant, substantial items like the “Doughnut Stop Believin’,” described as “a breakfast sandwich on French toasted donuts filled with scrambled eggs, chipotle maple sour cream, sausage & cheddar cheese. Topped with powdered sugar & served with a side of strawberry habanero jam. Served with home fries.”

The 7,000-square-foot Portland branch will have a staff of about 65. “We have an amazing group hired, real pros,” Goodwin said, adding that the company has been fortunate with hiring, despite labor shortages that have plagued the local hospitality industry for years. He said Friendly Toast’s daytime schedule and benefits – it offers health insurance, a 401k plan and sick days – make it attractive to many workers.

Goodwin and Pulver had hoped to open the Portland location in the spring in time for the city’s busy summer season, but permitting challenges delayed them, Goodwin said. “That’s fine for us. We play the long game,” he said. “The team will have the opportunity to learn and grow and evolve.”



Arvid Brown, one of Portland’s best-known bartenders, plans to open a bar in Portland’s Old Port in early 2023. He and partner Nick Coffin have leased a 1,100-square foot space at 41 Wharf St. for Room for Improvement. The bar will have 34 seats.

Brown, who made cocktails at Baharat for four years and now manages the bar at Crispy Gai, said he had been “gently” shopping for spaces before the pandemic began in 2020, “and I’m very glad I hadn’t inked anything.” Since then, he’s been waiting for the Portland restaurant scene to “stabilize enough that a bar seems like a good idea again,” a moment that he and Coffin believe the city reached this summer.

Coffin is a New England native who has opened bars and cafes in Colorado and California.

Arvid Brown, bar manager at Crispy Gai, is to open his own place next year in the Old Port with partner Nick Coffin. Fun is on the menu. Photos by Angie Bryan

The pair envision Room for Improvement as an easy-going bar with beer and quality drinks, but one that doesn’t take itself too seriously, an aspect that Brown hopes the menu, the space and the name convey. He’d like it to appeal equally to the foodie with a disposable income waiting for a table at the nearby Central Provisions and the line cook getting off work at Central Provisions.

The menu will include classic cocktails like Cosmopolitans, Negronis and Manhattans that are “Mr. Potato-Headed to very much make (them) our own drink,” Brown said. The space has exposed brick, low ceilings and looks “comfortable and lived in,” and the name came from a “jokey, late-night conversation” Brown had with a good friend years ago: “We were spit-balling names for a dive bar. He said, ‘I’ve got the perfect name – Room for Improvement.’ And I said, ‘Wait! That is the perfect name!'”

“So many cocktail bars take themselves very seriously,” Brown said. “As a customer, I sit there and think no one is having fun. No one sitting here is having fun, and no one working here is having fun. I want everyone to know even before they get here, we are not that. We are not trying to be serious. We are just trying to have fun.”


The bar will also offer a handful of food items that don’t require a chef, Brown said, possibly soft pretzels with dips and sauces, or high-quality sardines with potato chips.


Bueno Loco Restaurante, on Route 1 in Falmouth, has announced on Facebook that it is closing. The restaurant’s last day, according to the Facebook post, will be Friday. The short announcement noted that another restaurant will move into the space, but gave no reason for the closure. “It was a magical ride,” the post concluded.

The restaurant, with its large, brightly painted interior, serves a Mexican menu of items like tacos, fajitas and burritos, as well as drinks like margaritas and tequilas. It also offered live music and open mic nights. Owner Jeremy Doxsee bought the restaurant with his sister, Gregin Doxsee, from Sharon Reynolds, who’d founded it and run it for seven years. Their timing was unfortunate, just before the pandemic “shut everything down,” according to the woman who answered the phone at Bueno Loco on Tuesday. “It’s been a wild ride.”

Doxsee, now the sole owner, did not return messages Tuesday seeking more information about the closure.



Continental, envisioned as a relaxed, neighborhood pub modeled after classic Irish and English pubs in Boston, is slated to open in mid-November at the intersection of Brighton Avenue and St. John Street in Portland’s Libbytown neighborhood. The space was briefly D Ajan’s Super Market, which sold international groceries.

Michael Barbuto and Kevin Doyle, who are partners in CBG and Nosh, and Ian MacGregor, who will be moving to Maine from Boston, are partners in the new enterprise. MacGregor, who will be general manager at Continental, is coming to Maine from Highland Kitchen, a popular neighborhood spot in Somerville. He and Barbuto were roommates and co-workers back in the day. Barbuto thinks – hopes, he laughed – the area, while not traditionally a hot spot for restaurants or bars in Portland, has a lot of potential.

The partners are aiming to offer friendly, relaxed service; ales and lagers; and such pub classics as fish and chips, schnitzel, shepherd’s pie and scotch eggs. “We are going to get back to the original basics as far as beer and stuff,” Barbuto said. Continental will also offer quality cocktails that “lean on the classics a bit without any pomp or circumstance,” he said.

The plan, for now, is to be open seven days a week from 3 p.m to 1 a.m. on weekdays and to open for brunch at 10 a.m. weekends. “We’ll see how it goes and adjust as needed,” Barbuto said. Continental has 2,200 square feet and will have a patio.


Mast Landing has announced plans to open in South Portland. If all goes according to plan, the brewery is to open at 185 Cottage Road in the old Rwanda Bean space by the end of the year. The brewery already has tasting rooms in Westbrook and Freeport.


According to a post on the brewery’s website from President and CEO Ian Dorsey, “The space is great, and is well suited for us to jump in & make it our own – the vibrant neighborhood will allow us to connect with the community, and hopefully grow with it.”

The tasting room is expected to be open Wednesdays through Sundays serving Mast Landing beer and a small food menu, as well as hard cider, hard seltzer, wine and occasional guest beers.


The fourth annual Maine’s Garlic Festival is to take place this Saturday and Sunday at Lake George Regional Park in Skowhegan. The festival includes plenty of live music, as well as food, art, crafts, kids activities and, of course, garlic.

Admission costs $5 for adults; kids 12 and under are free. The festival is open both days at 9:30 a.m. and closes Saturday at 6 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. For more information, go to

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.