The bar area inside Ocotillo on Danforth Street in Portland. Courtesy of Ocotillo

Brunch restaurant Ocotillo is slated to open next week in the former space of The Danforth in Portland’s West End neighborhood.

Co-owner Melanie Reynolds, of Terlingua on Washington Avenue, said Ocotillo is set to launch on Thursday, April 11 at 211 Danforth St. The 2,500-square-foot space can accommodate 60 customers inside and another 30 outdoors in the summer.

“We’ve added bright colors that match the Terlingua palette,” said Reynolds, contrasting with the darker interior of the previous tenant, upscale cocktail bar and restaurant The Danforth. “Since we’re going to be a daytime spot, we really wanted to make it feel bright.”

Reynolds said she and her husband and business partner Pliny Reynolds conceived Ocotillo as a kind of extension of the weekend brunch and breakfast tacos that Texas- and Mexican-inspired Terlingua used to serve when it opened in 2015.

“People had been asking about original brunch, but we can’t pull it off effectively anymore on Washington Avenue,” she said. “We were kind of looking for a place to do something like this. The location is great, really vibrant and active, especially during the daytime.”

Dishes ($7-$18) include a selection of brisket, pork or mushroom breakfast tacos with house-made salsa; smoked brisket and pulled pork sandwiches; tortilla soup; crispy corn tortillas, shredded chicken and poached egg with mole poblano sauce and cotija; Terlingua brisket hash with poached egg and sweet potato; a burger; and an eggplant torta.


Ocotillo will be open Thursday through Sunday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. to start. Reynolds said she expects the restaurant will be open more days starting in June.


Portland has been listed among the Top Ten Cities for Bakeries in Food & Wine’s list, as part of its second annual Global Tastemakers awards. It’s right up there with cities you might expect – New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco – and some you might not, Indianapolis and Columbus, Ohio. The article names Zu Bakery, Norimoto, Belleville and Ongii, and it praises Portland as a place whose “residents take food seriously.”

The city was also recognized as one of the Ten Top U.S. Cities for Food and Drinks. Portland, it said, is “Quickly becoming one of the premiere culinary centers of the Northeast …” The “can’t-miss dining opportunities,” it named are at Izakaya Minato, Quanto Basta, Leeward and Cocktail Mary.

Further north, Aragosta restaurant was named to the publication’s list of 20 top restaurants in the United States. The farm-to-table restaurant, in Deer Isle, is the only Maine restaurant to make the list. Writer Chadner Navarro describes it as “among the most coveted places to eat in New England.”

To pick the restaurants, bars, cities and bakeries, Food & Wine polled almost 200 food and travel writers about their favorites, then gave their nominees to a panel of “expert judges” to winnow the list and pick the winners.



The owner of a Cumberland drive-thru coffee shop said he will soon launch a new coffee shop, Model T Coffee Co, in the Congress Street space that formerly hosted Coffee By Design.

The new shop – expected to open mid-April – will sell Coffee By Design coffee, along with a selection of baked goods and savory food, co-owner Matt Morgan said. Morgan owns Bru Thru Coffee Shack in Cumberland and the Model T Coffee Co food trailer, which both also sell Coffee By Design coffee.

“The community loves Coffee By Design, and they love that location being open,” Morgan said.

Morgan had been in discussions with Coffee By Design owner Mary Allen Lindemann since December about taking over the lease for the 620 Congress St. space. Coffee By Design closed that location last fall, citing pandemic-related issues including staffing shortages and reduced foot traffic downtown.

Morgan doesn’t see foot traffic being an impediment to business at Model T Coffee. “I have sat there multiple times at the door and watched foot traffic,” Morgan said. “I don’t see too much of a decrease in foot traffic there from what I remember pre-pandemic. There are a few business spaces that are open and for lease near there, so I see businesses hopefully coming back.”


Morgan purchased all the equipment that had been in the space, which won’t require a buildout, just some new paint. Morgan said the interior will feature a “vintage vibe” with Model T gas lanterns on the wall and some old-style Model T schematic posters.

Model T Coffee Co will serve breakfast sandwiches, bagels and Tony’s donuts, and Morgan is working to partner with other local bakeries. The shop will also offer a few lunch sandwiches like chicken salad and BLTs, and Morgan hopes to offer some shelf space to local businesses and makers who would like to showcase their goods inside Model T.

Model T Coffee will be open seven days from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.


The owners of The Dunn Bar on Washington Street in Biddeford plan to open an Italian restaurant in a space next door later this spring.

The new restaurant, Vin Santo, will seat up to 45 and use a kitchen shared with The Dunn Bar. The space most recently hosted Sublime Taco, until it closed last December.


Vin Santo’s vibe will be “very quaint and quiet, with a lot of nice wines and nice Italian music playing,” said general manager Angela Napolitano, who is also general manager at The Dunn Bar. “It’s going to be very dim lit, kind of a date-night concept.”

Napolitano, who may also cook at the restaurant, said Vin Santo will serve her own family’s authentic Italian recipes. The menu will feature dishes including lasagna, meatballs, chicken parmesan and shrimp scampi, at prices that will be “mid-range, sort of upscale but not too pricey,” she said.

Napolitano said Monday she expects Vin Santo to open in the next four to six weeks, and it will operate on the same schedule as The Dunn Bar: Wednesday through Friday 3-10 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

“We have the luxury of feeding off of each other,” she said of Vin Santo and The Dunn Bar, which are owned by Doug Darby and Ciel Caldwell. “I’ll be using my same staff. We are as one, is the way we’re going about this. That’s the Irish version of Italian.”


A bakery featuring individually sized treats is opening later this month in Windham in the former home of Cece’s Diner.


Pine Tree Bakery is set to launch April 10 at 1557 Bridgton Road. The 1,500-square-foot space can seat 38 customers, according to owner and baker Lesa Beck. Pine Tree will be open Wednesday through Sunday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Beck said the bakery will offer a variety of fresh-baked goods ($1-$6) including scones, muffins and other breakfast pastries, cookies, eclairs and single-size cakes, cheesecakes and pies. “We’re doing everything in small sizes. I’m an excellent baker, but not necessarily a cake decorator, so I chose to focus on individually portioned desserts.”

Pine Tree will serve coffee from Portland’s Coffee By Design. The bakery will also offer breakfast sandwiches, as well as savory baked items for lunch, including breads stuffed with ham and cheese or Italian cold cuts and ricotta, and potato-and-cheese hand pies.

Pine Tree is the first foray into the hospitality industry for Beck, who was previously a project manager in the tech field. “I was tired of the corporate world and I’ve always loved baking, so I decided to make it a career instead of a hobby,” she said.


A Waterboro man aims to open a Chicago-style hot dog restaurant in Windham this spring.


The Wrigley Field-style wall inside Cormier’s Dog House in Windham. Courtesy of Cormier’s Dog House

Ryan Cormier is in the midst of a buildout at 765 Roosevelt Trail, next to the Windham post office. The 1,800 square-foot space had formerly housed Elliott Nutrition until earlier this year.

The eatery, named Cormier’s Dog House, will offer hot dogs with a variety of toppings, like a Reuben dog with sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing, as well as Maine red snappers. But Cormier’s will specialize in Chicago-style dogs – all-beef hot dogs on poppy seed buns topped with mustard, onion, tomato, relish, pickled sport peppers and a dill pickle spear, with celery salt sprinkled over the top.

Cormier said he’d always wanted to open a hot dog stand. He visited the Windy City frequently in recent years, becoming enamored with the local dog style. Cormier is a former Fed Ex delivery driver and first-time restaurateur, and last September attended a two-day course at “Hot Dog University” at Vienna Beef in Chicago to learn about the hot dog business.

“I just fell in love with the taste of the Chicago hot dog. I thought we don’t have anything like that in Maine. I know we used to,” Cormier said, recalling his visits to the former Chicago Dogs on Route 1 in South Portland when he was growing up.

Cormier had a commercial kitchen and vent hood installed in the Roosevelt Trail space, which will be a counter-service restaurant seating up to 44. He’s also covered one wall partly in brick and artificial ivy to mimic the look of Chicago’s historic Wrigley Field.

Cormier plans to also serve burgers and perhaps sausages, along with fries and chips, and hopes to obtain a beer and wine license. He said he expects to launch by the middle of May. Cormier’s Dog House will be open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday from 12-6 p.m.



Closed since last December, Sublime Taco recently announced plans to relaunch inside an Elm Street bar in Biddeford later this month.

Chef-owner Steve Siders said Sublime will start to operate from a walk-up kitchen window in Mick’s Sports Bar starting April 16. Mick’s had previously served food from Gotta Be Frank Gourmet until that business opted not to join the venue’s liquor license and share liability.

Late last year, Sublime Taco closed its location at 12 Washington St., where it had operated since 2022, sharing kitchen space with The Dunn Bar next door. Sublime had previously operated on Main Street since 2018.

“We were either going to go with a food truck or this route, and this kind of fell in our lap with Mick’s,” Siders said. “We’re excited to work with Mick’s, and we can’t wait to be back in the Biddeford community.”

Siders said Sublime’s menu will include “fan favorites” like tacos, quesadillas, loaded fries and nachos, along with pulled pork sandwiches and rotating specials. Sublime Taco will be open Tuesday through Thursday from 4 to 8 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 12 to 9 p.m.



After more than 10 years in business, Gneiss Brewing Company of Limerick announced on social media recently that it would cease operations.

“Over the last 4 years Gneiss has suffered the hardships COVID brought to the hospitality industry followed by supply chain shortages, inflation, and an ever evolving employment scene,” the brew company’s posts on Facebook and Instagram stated. “We have also dealt with numerous health issues that have left us with little help to operate and grow at the rate we wished we could. For those reasons and more, we have decided that in the best interest to our family, we will be closing Gneiss.

“Imagine pouring your heart and soul into something and making the decision to walk away,” the company added in a Friday post. “We are heartbroken yet will feel liberated when we finalize a sale.”

Reached for comment Monday, owner Dustin Johnson noted that their distributor in Maine, Craft Collective, went out of business in 2022, which caused the business further problems. “Everything just compounded to the point where we couldn’t keep going the way we were going. It wasn’t any one thing, it just kept coming, and my wife and I are ready for a change at this point.”

Johnson said he is preparing to put the 8.5-acre property, building and equipment on the market later this spring as a turnkey operation.


Gneiss brewed its first beer in September 2013. The company launched exclusively offering wheat beers, at a time when IPAs would soon become the craft market’s dominant beer style.

Johnson said he will close Gneiss at some point in the coming weeks. In the meantime, the Gneiss tap room is open Saturdays from 12-6 p.m.


Fionn Black and Brickyard Hollow’s Jameson Thibodeau. Courtesy of Brickyard Hollow Brewing Co.

Brickyard Hollow Brewing Co. is a partnering with Make-A-Wish Maine to offer a special pizza designed by a local wish kid.

Fionn Black, 6, of  Portland, who triumphed over Wilms tumor, was recently granted his wish to visit Universal Studios Jurrasic Park. Brickyard Hollow has worked with him to create his own pizza, featuring bacon, sweet potato and mini marshmallows.

Brickyard Hollow locations will feature Black’s pizza throughout April, donating $1 from each sale to Make-A-Wish Maine, with additional proceeds from select locations on Tuesdays this month.


Brickyard Hollow said Jameson Thibodeau, the company’s district training and operations specialist, played a key role in establishing the collaboration with Black and Make-A-Wish Maine. Thibodeau is himself a Make-A-Wish alum, and visited Walt Disney World after his battle with leukemia at age 7.


Cumberland-based travel concierge and event planners Experience Maine recently launched catering and private chef services.

The new offerings, called Experience Maine Culinary, are for corporate and social groups of 150 or fewer. The services also include team-building programs for corporate meetings and retreats such as cooking classes with local chefs, nutritional classes, culinary scavenger hunts, lobster roll-making classes, and oyster experiences like their Wine & Brine and Flip Shuck events.

“We will provide the same 5-star food and beverage experience that many came to expect from The Maker’s Galley, which we had to close last fall,” said Experience Maine owner and founder Rachel Sagiroglu. “With Experience Maine Culinary, we can continue to provide exceptional catering and event services without the overhead of a brick-and-mortar location. Our culinary experiences were so popular that people still ask about doing them even after we closed, so it made sense to transition to a catering company.”

Former Maker’s Galley Chef Arianna Stefanilo will serve as executive chef of Experience Maine Culinary, and the company has also partnered with area chefs including Josh Berry, Spoondrift Kitchen, Ilma Lopez and Rachel LeGloahec.

Food editor Peggy Grodinsky contributed to this column.

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