Customers can come to Smalls, which opened in the West End in January, for a coffee, a meal or its selection of prepared foods, housewares, toiletries, scented candles and greeting cards from small producers based in Maine and beyond. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

When Samantha Knopf first came across the cozy yet rambling Brackett Street space in 2021 that would come to house her cafe, market and gift shop, Smalls, she knew right away the quirky interior was just right.

“I thought, ‘This is weird, and like, perfect for my idea,’ ” said Knopf, who moved to Maine in 2020 from New York City, where she’d worked in hospitality for years. “But can I cram it all in and will people understand the concept?”

The answer, in short: Yes and yes.

Since opening in Portland’s West End this past January, Smalls has gained a loyal and growing following of regular customers. They come to enjoy reasonably priced, quality food – like an upscale breakfast sandwich with garlic and herb feta sauce, the ricotta tartine, or a grilled cheese with French onion jam on Standard Baking Co. bread – at one of the 20 or so counter or cafe table seats in the intimate front dining room.

But regulars and tourists also come to browse Knopf’s thoughtfully compiled selection of prepared foods, housewares, toiletries, scented candles and greeting cards from small producers based in Maine and beyond. The marketplace area stretches over two back rooms connected by a short, charmingly uneven flight of stairs in Smalls’ 900-square-foot space.

Knopf said the idea of opening a combined restaurant and retail shop was “very natural” to her because of her time in Manhattan and Brooklyn.


“It’s very common in New York to cram as much as you can into one concept to pay the rent,” she said. “But when I was trying to explain my idea to people, they were like, ‘What?’ I said, ‘Just wait until you see it, it’ll make sense.'”

Restaurants featuring retail space – or vice-versa – isn’t a new concept. Department stores and clothiers like Macy’s and Tommy Bahama have hosted restaurants for decades in an effort to attract more customers. Eataly, the Italian foods shopping and dining megastores with locations from Boston to Silicon Valley, has become a phenomenon all its own.

But the mashup of restaurant and retail is becoming more common here in Portland, too. From Terlingua and Onggi on Washington Avenue to Friends & Family on Congress Street, Coveside Coffee on Vannah Avenue and The Maker’s Galley on Commercial Street, the combo concept has been gaining traction around town in the last couple of years.


Rachel Sagiroglu opened The Maker’s Galley in November 2021 with the aim of highlighting Maine food and merchandise makers exclusively.

“The idea was you could come into this store, these four walls, and experience Maine,” Sagiroglu said of her high-ceilinged store, which includes a 24-seat restaurant behind a gift shop in the front area that carries goods from more than 100 local vendors: small-batch spice blends from Skordo, organic body care products from Dr. Dandelion in Biddeford, jewelry from Chart Metalworks, paintings and crafts from local artists and loads of books from Maine authors.


The Maker’s Galley also hosts guest chef dinners featuring top Portland toques like Matt Ginn and Josh Barry, while The Galley’s executive chef, Arianna Stefanilo, co-leads cooking classes with local fishermen to give participants a fuller experience of Maine know-how.

Rachel Sagiroglu is owner of Maker’s Galley, a restaurant that is also a retail space. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

“Everything that we do is to support Maine makers, artists, farmers and fisheries and to showcase them to locals and people from away,” Sagiroglu said.

All summer, Sagiroglu said she saw customers – often out-of-town restaurateurs and business owners here on vacation – who were instantly smitten by the approach.

“They come in here and they’re like, ‘I own a restaurant down in Arkansas, or Nashville. We’re gonna go back and do this at home. Why aren’t we doing this?'” she recalled with a laugh.

“I remember one woman walking in, she’s like, ‘What is this magical place?’ Everybody is kind of stunned when they first walk in,” Sagiroglu said. “When they absorb it, they think it’s a really cool concept.”

Like The Maker’s Galley, Friends & Family also sells some of the oils, spices, conservas and other items that the wine bar and small restaurant uses in its own menu, like Spanish salt-cured olives they place atop their Monday night pizza special. Friends & Family’s in-store market space also includes offerings from the owners’ local “friends,” such as blueberry jam and apple cider vinegar from Smithereen Farm in Pembroke and salt from Maine Salt Farm, along with beers from Oxbow Brewing Co. and Bunker Brewing Co.


“We think it’s really nice for people to be able to experience something and then take it home with them,” said Friends & Family co-owner Cecily Upton.

The general restaurant/retail concept is also hit with local small goods producers. “My work feels so at home in a space like Smalls,” said Dominique Ostuni, a Bowdoinham-based potter who sells some of her ceramic mugs, pinch pots and candleholders in Knopf’s store.

When Ostuni sells her ceramics through her own online store, she said she feels something important is missing from the transaction. Namely, tangibility.

“So whenever I go into Smalls, it’s special to see people actually get to touch (my ceramics) and handle them before buying,” she said. “It’s really rewarding and warming. It’s been so nice to have a platform to show my work locally. And it has boosted my business as a local maker exponentially.”

“We all have Instagram now, so everyone has their finger on the pulse of what’s cool,” said Knopf. “All I’m doing is just bringing it into my space, so now you can smell it, touch it, access it.”

The Smalls platform has actually driven more business to Ostuni’s studio in Bowdoinham. “Sam (Knopf) is constantly giving people my email and website because they ask about it,” she explained. “Then when they get up here, they say they saw my work at Smalls and it gave them an opportunity to make a trip up north, which is really sweet.”



Richard Lee and Claire Guyer, co-owners of Little Brother Chinese Food, have offered their locally made prepared foods like dumplings and chili crisp condiments at resto-retail shops at Smalls, Onggi and Friends & Family, among other venues.

“Having outlets like these places that have a following in and of themselves is such a vote of confidence,” said Guyer, noting that being chosen to grace shelves at places like these, with carefully curated inventories, amounts to a key endorsement of their prepared foods.

“It gets our product into so many more people’s lives,” added Lee.

The retail space at Terlingua, shown last month, which greets visitors upon entering. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

The idea of creating retail space inside of their restaurant emerged for Terlingua co-owners Pliny and Melanie Reynolds in 2020 when they were moving to 40 Washington Ave., a few doors down from the smaller, 36-seat space they’d been working out of since 2015.

“We saw an opportunity to expand and really build out a market concept,” said Melanie Reynolds.


The Reynolds had wanted to sell their housemade barbecue sauces, hot sauces and smoked meats off-menu as well, and the larger, meandering, multi-level new location with seating for 136 in the summer months gave them the space to create a market for prepared foods and gifts in the front of the store.

Now, with his smoked meats in vacuum-sealed bags in a display fridge out front designed for easy grab-and-go meals, Pliny Reynolds estimates he’s able to make and sell 20 percent more barbecue than in Terlingua’s original space.

“But because we had so much space and only so much of our own things to sell, we wanted to complement our food with other things that went with the same kind of theme,” Melanie Reynolds added. “It’s been growing ever since we opened it.”

Terlingua’s front market space offers a comprehensive assortment of local and international hot sauces, spice blends, dried chiles and pantry staples.

The dry goods match up with the restaurant’s south-of-the-border vibe, including blankets from Belize, brightly colored Mexican woven bags, napkins, table runners and hand towels. The inventory also includes items like hand-carved wooden spatulas and cutting boards from Cumberland craftsman Sorin Brouwers, and Huga heated seat cushions (which they use in their restaurant for year-round outdoor dining).

“Stuff isn’t sitting on the shelf collecting dust. It moves,” Melanie Reynolds said. “We’re regularly ordering and refilling the shelves.”

As for continuing to connect with local food vendors and craftspeople to build their market space inventory, Pliny Reynolds said the glut of great options makes the decision simple. “There’s so much talent and quality here in town,” he said. “It’s a no-brainer.”

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