Helm Oyster Bar & Bistro, as photographed in April 2022. Michele McDonald/Photo Editor

The owner of the soon-to-close Portland waterfront restaurant Helm Oyster Bar & Bistro recently talked with the Press Herald about why she has decided to shutter her highly regarded venue. Reached via email, owner and wine director Elizabeth Legere wrote that industry-wide issues like staffing, increased labor costs and inflation are among the reasons she’ll close the restaurant on March 8, just three years after opening.

“But on a more personal level, the project has been an uphill battle starting with delayed construction, the ramifications of the pandemic, a nearly nonexistent marketing budget, all while being in a slow-growing neighborhood that was promised to be thriving,” Legere wrote. “Helm flew under the radar for most people, and it wasn’t for lack of trying.”

Legere added that she was proud of what she accomplished at Helm, her first restaurant, and credited her core staff for making it possible. “They rode the roller coaster with me, and I am forever thankful for that,” Legere wrote.

Legere launched Helm in February 2021 at 60 Thames St., near the Ocean Gateway Pier.


A brewery focused on family and charitable contributions aims to open in a former private residence in North Yarmouth this spring.


Well & Good Brewing Company is being built in a 1,600-square-foot, log cabin-style building at 173 Cumberland Road. “We’d been wanting to find a location that wasn’t just an industrial steel and concrete box that most breweries are in,” said Byron Kern, who owns Well & Good with his wife, Elise. “We wanted a space that had some character and was really a comfortable, cozy place to come spend some time.”

Kern said he and his wife have kids, and want to make their brewery as family-friendly as possible. To that end, the new venue will feature a kids’ playroom. “We know how enjoyable it can be when you find a good space to bring your family,” Kern said.

Well & Good also has a significant charitable component built into the business model.  “That’s where the name comes from: Drink well and do good,” Kern said. “We’re heavily focused on giving back.”

Kern said the brewery will donate 50 cents from each pint or flight sale, and 25 cents from each 8-ounce pour, to local charities. The brewery will have a rotating roster of local nonprofit groups each month, and customers can choose where their proceeds will go.

The Kerns hope to launch Well & Good in April. They’ll open with six brews: hazy IPA, double IPA, oatmeal stout, citrus gose, light lager and hard ginger ale.

Well & Good will be open Wednesday through Sunday from noon to 8 p.m.



A daytime cafe and high-end lounge bar are on track to open in the West End’s forthcoming Longfellow Hotel this spring, with key leadership staff already in place.

The Twinflower Cafe will feature a “health-focused” menu that will include dishes like a mushroom BLT, salmon and potato salad, and a toasted vegetable hoagie, according to Allie Gill, director of marketing for Uncommon Hospitality, which is overseeing the hotel project. The cafe will serve coffee from Portland’s Burundi Star Coffee, as well as fresh-pressed fruit juices and smoothies.

“It is different for the West End,” Gill said of the cafe menu. “We don’t really have anything like that over there now, so we’re excited to be able to offer that for hotel guests and locals.”

Gill called the Five of Clubs bar “the heart” of the hotel, which is located at 754 Congress St. “The lobby is built around it,” she said. “It’s like a lobby bar that you’d see in New York or London. We want it to be pretty elevated.”

The bar menu will offer high-end shareable plates like charcuterie, seafood towers, tuna and steak tartares, rabbit terrine, oysters and caviar. Gill said both the bar and the cafe will also have ample vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options.


Earlier this winter, Longfellow hired Wilson Suliveras as the property’s executive chef, Gill said. Suliveras had previously been chef de cuisine at 555 North in Brunswick, executive sous chef at Elda and the former Jackrabbit Cafe in Biddeford, and executive sous chef at Kennebunk’s White Barn Inn.

The hotel’s new general manager, Bethany Wade, also worked at the White Barn Inn. “She recommended we talk to Wilson, and he ended up being a perfect fit,” Gill said.

The owners of Wayside Tavern, Siobhán and Michael Sindoni, are managing the food and beverage programs at the Longfellow, Gill said. “They have a really great sense of hospitality and very high level of service, so we’re excited to be working with them too,” she said.

Gill expects the two new venues to open in late April when the hotel launches.

Inside Catface Cafe, a new breakfast, lunch and brunch restaurant opening March 1 in Biddeford. Courtesy of Catface Cafe


The new breakfast, lunch and brunch eatery Catface Cafe is set to open onFriday, about a month after the owners started renovations on the downtown Biddeford venue.


The cafe is located at 17 Alfred St., former home of the specialty market and casual eatery Part + Parcel. The new restaurant is co-owned by Krista Cole, owner of Sur Lie in Portland and Gather in Yarmouth, and Tyler VanScoy.

The 2,800-square-foot space can seat more than 30, with additional outdoor seating on a back patio when weather permits. The venue’s name honors Biddeford’s history in the logging industry: “Cat face” refers to a healed wound in a tree or log, because the scarring looks like cat whiskers.

Mimi Weissenborn, chef at Gather and Sur Lie, developed the menu for Catface. She said the dishes were “inspired by the changing seasons of Maine, with a twist.”

The streamlined menu offers a variety of breakfast sandwiches ($8-$10) like Granite Pool, featuring marinated tofu, avocado, tomato, harissa yuzu sauce and cilantro; sourdough toasts ($12) like The Headlight, with whipped ricotta, thyme, marinated local mushrooms, pickled raisins and mustard seed; and pressed sandwiches ($14-$17) like a Maine Crab BLT. Their weekend brunch menu ($12-$14) includes dishes like The Mainer, a Maine blueberry popover with maple pastry cream and vanilla sugar.

“I’m excited about the variety of offerings and how creative and fun it is,” Cole said.

Catface also will offer specialty coffee drinks from its espresso machine, and sell beer, wine and cocktails. The cafe will be open Tuesday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (though the kitchen closes at 2 p.m.), and on Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.



Blue Lobster Urban Winery is moving this spring into the former Urban Farm Fermentory tasting room on Anderson Street, allowing it to expand production capacity and tasting room space.

Blue Lobster has been in its current 2,600-square-foot location at 219 Anderson St. since launching in 2017, said Sales Director Jason Kroot, noting that the 500-square-foot tasting room has prevented Blue Lobster from accommodating larger groups and special events. Moreover, the winery had to close the tasting room to make enough space on days when it was canning its product.

Kroot said the 4,400-square-foot space at nearby 219 Anderson St. will allow Blue Lobster to “at least double” its production.

Blue Lobster also is in the process of acquiring a Class A lounge license, which will let it serve beer and other beverages from other vendors, and offer a sparkling wine cocktail program in the new tasting room.

Urban Farm Fermentory closed its tasting room Saturday. Kroot said Blue Lobster hopes to open in the new location in late May or early June, and its current space will stay open until March 22.



The 14th annual Incredible Breakfast Cook-Off, which marks the start of Maine Restaurant Week, is set for Thursday morning at South Portland’s Sea Dog Brewery.

Chefs representing 10 Maine venues will compete for top honors at this year’s cook-off. They are The Black Tie Company; Eighteen95 at the Portland Regency Hotel; The Good Table in Cape Elizabeth; Noble Kitchen + Bar in Brunswick; Sea Dog Brewing Co; Sea Glass at Inn by the Sea in Cape Elizabeth; Southern Maine Community College culinary students; $3 Dollar Deweys; 2023 cook-off winner Ugly Duckling; and UNION restaurant in the Press Hotel.

The event runs from 7-9 a.m. Tickets cost $35 and must be purchased in advance through the Maine Restaurant Week website.

All proceeds from the cook-off will be donated to Preble Street. The event has raised more than $80,000 for Preble Street to date, organizer Gillian Britt said.

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