Ending a pandemic-delayed process that stretched on for more than a year, Belleville Bakery officially opened its new production facility and retail space on Forest Avenue on Jan. 7.

Belleville bakery’s new production facility and retail space at 767 Forest Ave. in Portland. Photo courtesy of Belleville

The new facility will produce all the delectable, French-style baked goods for Belleville’s original North Street location on the peninsula as well. Owner Chris Deutsch said the 767 Forest Ave. venue is open for pre-order pickup and retail purchases on Saturdays and Sundays from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Deutsch said he and his staff were “so strapped” trying to meet increasing demand in a limited production space on North Street.

“Having a whole lot more space – a walk-in cooler and freezer and a big rotating rack oven – makes a huge difference for us,” he said, noting that the Forest Avenue facility allows Belleville to slash its usual 8-12 hours of baking time down to roughly four hours.

“The goal for us was to be a lot more efficient with time, labor, all of it,” Deutsch said.



Little Woodfords coffee shop on Congress Street recently announced plans to close at the end of January.

After more than five years and two locations, the popular Little Woodfords coffee shop will close at the end of the month, owner Andrew Zarro announced. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

“The time has come for us to move on to the next chapter of our lives,” a Jan. 6 post on the shop’s Instagram site reads in part. “We could continue on as-is, but deep down we know it is time to say farewell to Little Woodfords as it currently exists. So much has changed in the hospitality industry over the past few years, and it has become something so different from what we set out to do.”

In their Instagram post, owners Andrew and T.J. Zarro suggested they’re not leaving the hospitality space for good. “It’s not goodbye, it’s so long for now … So stay tuned for our next big adventure together – this isn’t the last you’ve seen of us.”

The shop originally opened on Woodfords Corner in 2017, then moved to a tiny, cozy spot (tagline: small coffeeshop with a big heart) at 316A Congress St. in 2020.


A new gluten-free, vegan bagel business, Badger Bagels, launched its product at Arabica Coffee Co. on Free Street this week, with plans to expand soon into area cafes and markets.


Owner Chris Franklin, a former land conservation professional, is producing the bagels out of his gluten-free commercial kitchen in North Yarmouth, Sligo Foods. Franklin credited the Top Gun program at the Maine Center for Economic Development for helping him ready Sligo and his bagels for market.

Badger Bagels, shown proofing, are a new line of gluten-free, vegan bagels from startup Sligo Foods in North Yarmouth. Photo courtesy of Badger Bagels

“This is the time for me to make a run of it,” Franklin said. “I worked over the summer on the recipe, did a lot of research and brought some new thinking to gluten-free cooking.”

Franklin said he expects Badger Bagels to be available in more stores and cafes in February, and hopes soon to meet his kitchen production capacity of 5,000 bagels a month. He said the bagels are Sligo Foods’ first product, and that he plans to come out with other gluten-free and vegan products under the Sligo banner.

But, he added, he won’t rush anything.

“The rollout is intentionally a bit slow,” Franklin said. “I’m a first-time small business owner, and I want to take deliberate steps and do things right. I’d love to say this time next month I’ll be in six cafes and four or five retail spaces. We could be double that, but we’ll see.”

Three varieties of Badger Bagels are offered at Arabica Coffee: plain, cinnamon raisin and everything.



The roast beef sandwich food truck, George’s North Shore, plans to open a brick-and-mortar shop on Cumberland Street in Westbrook this summer.

The shop is expected to launch by July at 9 Cumberland St., which is occupied until this spring by Brea Lu Cafe. Owner Logan Abbey said his new restaurant will be called George + Leon’s Famous Roast Beef, named, respectively, for his dog and three-month-old son.

Abbey said George + Leon’s has about 1,000 square feet of space. The venue will be counter-service only.

In addition to the roast beef sandwiches that are the specialty of Abbey’s food truck, the restaurant will offer an expanded menu of sandwiches, including steak and cheese subs and some favorites from Massachusetts’ North Shore, like chicken finger subs. George + Leon’s will also feature a simple bar program with beer, wine and cocktails.

Abbey said he also plans to host pop-ups at the Westbrook location featuring the fare of other food trucks and small food operators. George’s North Shore will still operate – 2023 will be the truck’s fourth season – after George + Leon’s is up and running.


“We wanted to make this family-friendly, but also a good place to have some drinks,” Abbey said. “It’s going to be a fun environment. We’ve worked hard to build a good customer base. We hope to continue that, and make this a ‘Cheers’ kind of spot.”


Portland chocolatiers Chocolats Passion were among just four U.S.-based chocolate makers to receive awards earlier this month from the prestigious annual competition at London’s Academy of Chocolates.

Chocolats Passion, a women-owned and operated business making French-style chocolates at 189 Brackett St., pulled in a whopping five of the 10 awards given to American chocolatiers in the 2022 competition. The academy announced winners on Jan. 3.

Sarah Levine, lead chocolatier at Chocolats Passion, said the Portland company won two silver awards for its sesame miso and pistachio raspberry chocolates, and three bronzes for pineapple-black pepper, calamansi almond and coffee toffee chocolates.

Chocolats Passion has previously won gold and silver medals at the Seattle-based Northwest Chocolate Festival, and pulled in three bronze medals at the Academy of Chocolate’s 2021 competition. The store has this year’s winners in stock, and they’re also available for order online.



The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association unveiled its chosen artwork for the 2023 Common Ground Country Fair poster on Tuesday.

This year’s winning artwork is titled “Monarchs and Milkweed,” from Biddeford-based author, artist and wildlife illustrator Rebekah Lowell.

“We are grateful to feature Rebekah’s beautiful artwork as the central image for the 2023 fair. Her detailed portrayal of the monarch butterfly’s life cycle offers us the opportunity to highlight the importance of this keystone species and the continued conservation efforts needed to help ensure the survival of pollinators,” said April Boucher, MOFGA’s Common Ground Country Fair director.

“Monarchs are suffering due to climate change and habitat loss,” Lowell said, noting that she’s rescued, tagged and released more than 1,000 Monarch butterflies from area hayfields over the past several years. “They need milkweed to survive so anywhere you can let native milkweed grow, or plant new milkweed, you’re helping monarchs have a chance at life.”

Planning is underway for the 2023 Common Ground Country Fair, which is scheduled for Sept. 22-24 in Unity.



Kennebunk food photographer and former chef Derek Bissonnette has released a new cookbook, “Mediterranean: The Ultimate Cookbook.”

The book offers more than 300 recipes for contemporary dishes from the Mediterranean region, encompassing flavors from Southern Europe, Northern Africa and the Middle East.

Published by Cider Mill Press, “Mediterranean” retails for $39.95. The author’s previous cookbooks include “The Ultimate Books of Soups and Stews,” “The Maine Farm Table Cookbook,” and “Dumplings: Over 100 Recipes from the Heart of China to the Coasts of Italy.”

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