The Holy Donut, which started in Portland, has announced its plans to open a shop in Brunswick. Photo courtesy of The Holy Donut

Locally beloved donut brand The Holy Donut aims to open a Brunswick location in early 2024.

The Brunswick shop – to be located at 147 Pleasant St., the former home of Canadian doughnut chain Tim Horton’s – will be The Holy Donut’s fifth location. The store, which sells potato doughnuts, currently has two stores in Portland, one in Scarborough and another in Arundel. The company briefly had a store in Auburn, but it was closed in 2022 because it did not make enough money.

While the interior of the Brunswick shop is under renovation this winter, the company is exploring options for limited outdoor pop-up sales, along with ways to partner with other local businesses, schools and community groups, according to a news release.

“We are thrilled to finally join the Brunswick community,” said Holy Donut co-owner and President Jeff Buckwalter. “This is a location we have had our eye on for some time now.”


A regional nonprofit is using a $65,150 federal grant to help create a cooperative halal meat brand and the state’s first USDA-certified, halal-only slaughterhouse in Unity.


The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced last week that it was awarding the funding to the Cooperative Development Institute. The cooperative and slaughterhouse are to be based at Five Pillars Butchery, an existing business in Unity that does custom halal slaughtering and is owned by husband and wife Hussam AlRawi and Kathryn Piper.

A USDA-certified slaughterhouse would allow meat to be sold commercially, not merely for personal consumption.

Five Pillars Butchery co-owners Kathryn Piper and Hussam AlRawi (center) and their team. The business is working with local livestock producers to develop a cooperative to produce a halal-meat brand. Five Pillars Butchery is also building a halal slaughterhouse that is USDA-certified. Photo courtesy of the Cooperative Development Institute

Five Pillars hopes to break ground on the slaughterhouse in the spring or summer of 2024. It estimates that when its business reaches full capacity in 2028, over $2 million in sales will flow back to the livestock farmers in the cooperative. The idea is that the growth will increase farmers’ ability to reinvest in farm infrastructure, hire more employees and contribute to the state’s agricultural sector.

“There are currently no halal, USDA-certified slaughterhouses in Maine or northern New England,” said Katherine Bessey, program director at the Cooperative Development Institute, in a news release. “Despite the recent growth of Muslim and other immigrant populations in the region, there are no local sources for these culturally relevant processed meat products. There is a need to develop an equitable local food production system in Maine that provides access to culturally relevant food, such as halal slaughtered meats.”

“Halal” means permissible in Arabic. According to the Five Pillars website, certain conditions must apply for meat to be considered halal, and these conditions apply to an animal’s treatment from the day it is born until the day it is slaughtered. Every day in an animal’s life should be happy until the very last day. The animal should be treated humanely, fed properly, allowed to live outside and have freedom of movement,” the website says.

According to the Cooperative Development Institute, for now 15 farmers are interested in joining this cooperative. Several are new to farming, six are people of color and one farm is run by a cooperative of Somali women. The funding from the USDA will help evaluate the feasibility of the cooperative.


For a brief time, Central Maine Meats in Gardiner butchered some of its products in accordance with halal law, but that company filed for bankruptcy in 2018.


Big Tree Hospitality, the company behind Eventide, Honey Paw and more, has announced on Instagram the return of XO Burger, a popular takeout spot that opened for a time during the pandemic. Then, as now, it will operate out of Hugo’s restaurant on Middle Street in Portland; the fine-dining Hugo’s did not survive the pandemic.

As during the pandemic, the XO Burger business will be take-out and delivery only and will run during the winter, the Instagram post said. Big Tree plans to begin service next Wednesday and will be open Wednesdays through Fridays from 5 to 9 p.m. The menu and other details have not yet been announced.


Noble Barbecue will be bringing its Detroit-style pizza to The Thompson’s Point Rink, which reopened for ice skating this weekend after taking last season off to upgrade the site.


According to its Instagram account, @noblepizza, it will be selling the square, sauce-on-top pizzas at the outdoor skating rink in Portland Thursdays though Sundays, starting this week.


Brand-new Portland gastropub Thistle & Grouse is already starting what it hopes to be a longstanding annual tradition: a New Year’s Eve dinner. The $90 three-course meal will be served from 4 p.m. to midnight Sunday. Menu items include yellowfin tuna tartare, braised prime beef short rib and parsnip cake. Reservations can be made at or on Resy. Thistle and Grouse opened this month at 10 Cotton St., the former Rivalries location on the western edge of the Old Port.

Portland restaurant The Knotted Apron is also putting on a prix-fixe New Year’s Eve dinner. Tickets for the $130 six-course meal with a Champagne toast are available on Resy. The full menu had not been posted as of Tuesday, but may include cod, foie gras, veal, sole and a vegetable course, according to the restaurant, which is located in Rosemont.

The Causeway restaurant at the Craignair Inn in Spruce Head is putting on an $85 per person New Year’s Eve dinner, with several choices for each of its four courses including lobster bisque, gorgonzola arancini, prosciutto-wrapped halibut, vegan Wellington and coconut panna cotta. Find the full menu and instructions for making a reservation on Instagram at @causewayatcraignair.

McSeagull’s restaurant in Boothbay Harbor is serving a $60 four-course New Year’s Eve dinner with several choices per course, including clam chowder, crab cakes and lobster mac and cheese. Find the full menu on Facebook. Make reservations by calling 207-633-5900 or at

Staff writers Tim Cebula, Peggy Grodinsky and Leslie Bridgers contributed to this report.

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