The owners of the Vietnamese restaurant Cong Tu Bot, shown in March, plan to open a new restaurant in the Old Port by the end of the year. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Owners of the popular Vietnamese restaurant Cong Tu Bot on Washington Avenue in Portland plan to open a new eatery in the Old Port by the end of the year.

Chef and co-owner Vien Dobui said they leased the space at 30 Market St., formerly home of Pat’s Pizza, which closed in early April. Dobui said his new restaurant will be called Lido’s 2, a reference to a former nightclub he frequented some years ago when he lived in San Jose, California.

The new space will seat as many as 70 people, considerably more than the 40-seat Cong Tu Bot, which in March became the state’s first independent unionized restaurant in more than 40 years. The larger venue, located in the bustling Old Port, “will allow us to reach a bigger audience,” Dobui said, noting that the space also will have a full bar.

While it will offer some Vietnamese cuisine, Lido’s 2 will feature Asian food more broadly without being pan-Asian, said Dobui, a two-time finalist for a James Beard award. He said he’s still hashing out his food program at this early stage.

The space will not require a full build-out, but will undergo more targeted cosmetic renovations. Dobui said Lido’s 2 could optimistically open as soon as late fall, and is confident it will launch before the end of the year.



A Cambodian food stall, the only Khmer-style eatery in the area, is launching in the Public Market House in Portland in the second-floor space of the former Pho Huong restaurant.

Chef-owner Khanya “Navii” Chhay said her new restaurant, called Khmer Kitchen, is awaiting final certifications and she hopes to have it open by the second week in May.

Chhay said she’ll be serving authentic Cambodian food, including dishes like Khmer-style ribs with rice, pickled veggies and a complexly flavored seafood sauce; chicken wings stuffed with ground pork, glass noodles and seasonings; Khmer chicken and beef skewers; chicken ginger stir-fry; and Cambodian-style egg rolls, pho and bahn mi. Entrees will run between $12 and $15.

Khmer Kitchen will be open seven days a week to start. Chhay said she may adjust her operating hours depending on the foot traffic she observes in the first few weeks.

Chef and sole owner of the new stall, Chhay operated a Cambodian restaurant in Providence, Rhode Island, from 2006-08.



The Garden Bar, a design-your-own salad and bowl concept, is slated to have its soft opening Saturday in Biddeford’s Pepperell Mill Campus.

The new fast-casual, healthy options restaurant, owned by Keith Castro and his life and business partner, Lanai Monahan, is located in the shared lobby space of Building 13 in the Pepperell Campus at 40 Main St. The couple also own Pepperell Provisions, a sandwich and salad cafe in Pepperell’s Building 18 that serves as the hub for their catering business.

Castro said customers can design their own salads and bowls, choosing from about 30 hot and cold ingredients, including grains, greens, proteins and raw and cooked seasonal vegetables. Meals will run between $11 and $16, and the restaurant also will serve cold-pressed juices.

The Garden Bar will be open seven days a week, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

“There’s a lot of need for it in this area,” Castro said. “This’ll be like a giant meal prep counter. It’s the kind of thing we’re always looking for.”



The Greeks of Peaks food truck operation will only have a semi-regular presence on Peaks Island this season, a rebuilding year for the company after its dedicated island truck was destroyed in a storm last year.

Co-owner Nancy Klosteridis said a powerful thunderstorm tore over Peak’s Island last August, uprooting an oak tree that crushed the back of the Greeks of Peaks truck, and the insurance didn’t cover the damage. Nobody was in the truck or injured in the incident.

“It was a perfect storm, literally,” Klosteridis said. “But I learned a lot about insurance, our community and how to navigate things in business.”

A GoFundMe account that a friend established after the storm helped raise about $20,000 in donations for the food company, though Klosteridis and her partner estimate they would need twice that to buy a new truck to station on Peak’s Island this season.

Yet they will retain an island presence, Klosteridis said. Greeks of Peaks will run its Portland-based food truck on Peaks Island a couple weekends a month this summer when it’s not booked elsewhere.

Greeks of Peaks launched on Peak’s Island in 2017, though the truck spent most of its time in Portland for its first few years in business. Klosteridis and partner Haley Campbell bought another truck in early 2020, which they stationed on Peaks Island through the pandemic in an effort to help serve that community.


“I’m hoping to be there maybe twice a month (this season), but it’s really hard to say. We’ll be out there as much as possible,” Klosteridis said. “It was a really big loss and we just hope that we can continue to rebuild.”


The Maine Wild Wine Fest returns to Freeport on May 20 for its second year.

The one-day event, to be held in Mallet Barn at the Wolfe’s Neck Center, will feature more than 35 noted natural winemakers and international importers based in the United States.

New this year, the event also will include a producer-led workshop on “What’s a Hybrid? An Introduction to the Wines in our Backyard.” Attendees will have the chance to meet and chat with winemakers and importers, and also taste wines made from hybrid grapes from La Garagista and Iapetus, both in Vermont, and Oyster River Winegrowers in Warren, Maine.

“Maine Wild Wine Fest will bring producers and importers focused on minimal intervention winemaking to the center of the conversation, highlighting our local makers in a gorgeous setting,” said wine educator and writer Margot Mazur, co-organizer of the event, along with Ned Swain of Devenish Wines.


The wine fest will have two sessions – one in the morning and another in the afternoon – to limit attendance to 180 people per session.

Tickets cost $55, and the workshop is an additional $20, available for purchase online.


Ore Nell’s Barbecue in Kittery aims to open a second location, in Biddeford, in June.

Chef-owner Will Myska, a Houston native, specializes in traditional Central Texas barbecue technique, cooking his brisket, ribs, chicken, pulled pork and Texas hot link sausages low and slow over oak wood.

The new Ore Nell’s – named after Myska’s grandmother – will be located at 42 Franklin St., the former home of Louis Pizza, which closed late last summer.


When Ore Nell’s opened in Kittery in 2018, it was named among the best new restaurants of the year by New Hampshire Magazine, while Eater listed it among its picks for “Hottest Restaurants in Maine.”


A CBS “Sunday Morning” segment on Erin French, chef-owner of The Lost Kitchen, was among the finalists for the recently announced James Beard Media Awards.

Erin French at The Lost Kitchen in Freedom. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

Titled “How Erin French found herself at The Lost Kitchen,” the roughly five-and-a-half minute video was named a finalist for the short form visual media category. The segment profiles French and her well-publicized challenges and struggles as she turned her restaurant in Freedom into a food world phenomenon.

Shot mostly at The Lost Kitchen, the video features French talking candidly with CBS correspondent Martha Teichner, cooking, and interacting with guests in the dining room. The segment also include plenty of footage taken in and around Freedom.

The French video goes up against two other finalists in the category: a YouTube video from Eater about a Philadelphia pizzeria that creates jobs for formerly incarcerated people, and a syndicated video from the series “Matter of Fact with Soledad O’Brien.”

The winner will be announced at the James Beard Foundation’s Media Awards ceremony in Chicago on June 3.

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