Bettina Reece, right, and Callan Kilroy have breakfast at Lenora. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

It’s 9 a.m. on a stormy Friday in April, and two friends who work together are sharing breakfast at Lenora in Portland. At this hour, in this abominable weather, they are the only diners in the spacious, light-filled dining room; customers typically come in waves throughout the day and night, cafe manager Mike Scafuro said.

Bettina Reece often brings her laptop, orders the breakfast tacos and taps away at her real estate job until 11 a.m. or so, occasionally sliding toward lunch and tacking on an order of chips and salsa.

“I come here all the time,” Reece said.

Callan Kilroy said she’s had breakfast, lunch and drinks at this year-old Mexican taco bar in the Old Port, which may be the ultimate example of the all-day restaurant in Portland.

Lenora opens every day at 7 a.m. and closes at 10 p.m. on weekdays; Fridays and Saturdays, it shuts down at midnight.

Restaurants that stay open all day now are a nationwide trend, one that is gaining momentum in Greater Portland. They’re a natural adjustment to more people eating at home and looking for casual, affordable food – and offer possibility to chefs and restaurateurs facing ever tougher times and constantly searching for new efficiencies and ways to make money.


Other restaurants in Portland, such as Duckfat (11 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays), Eventide Oyster (11 a.m. to 11 p.m.) and Nosh, whose very name implies all-day snacking (11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m.) have been doing this for some years – as have diners, which may have invented, or perfected, the form.

But more recently, a small wave of newer, mostly casual places – Smalls, Henry’s Public House, Wilson County Barbecue, Ugly Duckling in Portland and The Abbey in Brunswick – are running on the all-day restaurant model. Two new spots that haven’t opened yet, Magissa and Oun Lido’s, have already made plans to follow suit.

Michael McAllister has a quick breakfast and coffee at Lenora. He said he comes to the restaurant often because it is just up to the street from his office. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Lenora makes hanging out easy by making it comfy.

“You can come in in the morning and do some work, and there is not the pressure, there’s not the expectation that you are going to get up and leave once you are done your meal,” Kilroy said. “If it’s open all day, it’s kind of a mixture between a coffee shop vibe and a restaurant vibe, which is really nice.”

Finishing a tostada and sipping a Golden Juice (cantaloupe, carrot, orange, turmeric), Kilroy described herself as a “grazer. If I am at Smalls or here, I graze.

“Who knows? I might get a pastry in 20 minutes,” she added, laughing, “just ’cause I can.”



The extended hours at restaurants have special appeal to remote workers, said Lilly Jan, a lecturer in food and beverage management at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration. Maine, she speculated, may have more than its share of such people since so many escaped to the state during the pandemic and stayed.

“Having another location to go get a coffee, get a pastry, eat a snack, just set up camp for a little bit can be really necessary to your own sanity,” said Jan, who divides her time between Westbrook and Ithaca, New York.

“The other thing is the pandemic really moved us away from a culture of discrete mealtimes, so we don’t really have specific day parts for meals anymore the way we used to,” she added. “People are really moving to a snacking culture. I don’t know if you want to call it the dissolution or the erosion of structured meal times into something that is a lot more fluid, that works better for people working from home who just snack as needed throughout the day.”

Ella Neess prepares orders of chips on the line before lunch begins at Lenora. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Proof of sorts? Consider how many of the foods Mainers love right now plates of oysters, smoothies, poutine, chicken wings, street foods, bites eaten from shared plates and charcuterie boards – could be lumped together under the heading “Snacks.”

The popularity of all-day restaurants also may be a reaction to the high price of more formal, structured restaurant meals, where a drink, an appetizer, an entrée and a dessert can run you a small fortune these days.


“People can’t afford all the time to go out and get a three-course meal at a fancy restaurant, or even a not-so-fancy restaurant. It’s expensive nowadays,” said Lainey Catalino, who, with Scott Connor, owns The Abbey, an all-day coffee shop and cocktail bar. “To be able to come somewhere and get a cup of coffee and a pastry, a glass of wine and a small plate instead of a getting a meal – that is a lot more appealing.”


More than anything, chefs and restaurateurs who operate all-day restaurants here say that they are responding to the specific needs of their neighborhoods.

At Lenora, that includes the city’s many early risers. When Rian and Jen Wyllie moved to Portland from Boston in 2017, they were struck both by the early hours Mainers keep and by how few of the city’s coffee shops were open early to serve them. So Lenora developed a breakfast menu of about 10 items plus coffee and other drinks, all available from 7 a.m.

Colleen Fallon, 7, sips her vanilla steamer at Lenora. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

For Nancy Klosteridis, co-owner of the soon-to-open Magissa (hours 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.), in a neighborhood that’s been dubbed “Yeast Bayside,” meeting the needs of beer lovers is key to her business strategy.

“For us, being open all day makes a ton of sense because there isn’t a timeline. People start visiting these breweries at noon when they open, and then they walk around to every single brewery until they go to dinner somewhere else,” she said. “But that middle ground where they might need something to eat?”


That’s when she hopes they’ll put down their pint glasses and duck into Magissa for classic Greek mezze – plates of tinned fish, fried zucchini, rustic tomato-stewed gigantes beans – all tailor-made for eating anytime.

Ultimately, breakfast and lunch hours didn’t work out for Vietnamese restaurant Cong Tu Bot on Washington Avenue (open 5-9 p.m. most days). But founder and chef Vien Dobui said he has high hopes for Oun Lido’s, the Cambodian restaurant he’s opening in Old Port, where the kitchen has more room, the daytime foot traffic is greater and an all-day takeout counter is planned, with a dining room slated to open later.

For The AbbeyCatalino and Scott had already developed a business plan for an evening cocktail bar when the space that used to be Little Dog Café came available. It was exactly what they’d been looking for. The pair grabbed it for The Abbey (8 a.m to 10 p.m. most days), inheriting a “booming coffee business,” Catalino said, “and Brunswick definitely has a need for coffee.”

So they amended their long-envisioned cocktail bar concept to make The Abbey “a place where people could see themselves irrespective of the time of day,” Scott said, whether for a morning coffee, an afternoon work meeting, a first date or a hang with friends.

“You can get an espresso martini at 9 a.m.,” Catalino said, “or you can come in at 9 p.m. and get a latte.”

For Evan Richardson, owner of Café Louis in South Portland, all-day hours mean availability.


“We don’t have a minute where you can’t get food. I am really, really adamant about being a restaurant that serves its neighborhood,” he said. “If we are going to be your place because you live near us – I live in the neighborhood – we need to be available at all times. That’s where we found our success.”

Customers sit at the bar at Lenora in Portland, which opens every day at 7 a.m. and stays open until midnight on the weekends. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Ditto for Rian Wyllie. When any of his regulars wonder if Lenora is open, he wants them to know the answer is yes – seven days a week, morning to night.

“I think it’s important to be consistent, not just with your food and drink but also the hours you are open,” he said. As for any diners merely visiting, vacationers “bouncing around from place to place” and forgetting about the time, they can stop in at Lenora any off-hour and get fed without any fuss.


Though it may seem counterintuitive given the cost of labor, continuous opening hours offer cost-saving opportunities, said Kerry Altiero, a restaurant consultant and longtime owner/chef of the now-closed Café Miranda in Rockland. The idea is to “up your margins, which you will do by serving more food and more food in hours you didn’t do before. From a business model, that makes a whole ton of sense,” he said.

He did it at Café Miranda, he said. “That’s why I advise clients to do it. Our margins have shrunk so small. Efficiencies – that is what everybody is looking for. Where do you get them?”


Altiero suggests that all-day restaurants serve a single basic menu, an approach he said helps streamline costs including inventory, storage, kitchen space and menu printing. Several all-day restaurants in the area have adopted a variation of that model, offering counter service only in the mornings, which reduces the need for front-of-house staff, and building dinner menus by adding on to lunch menus.

Klosteridis of Magissa explained the mechanics of the latter move from the kitchen perspective: The line is already set up for lunch, she said, and since those items will be offered later in the day as well, the lunch cooks only need to “slightly re-prep or add more to it.” When the dinner cooks arrive for their shift, they ready the handful of items on the expanded dinner menu “instead of re-prepping an entire line for a completely different menu.”

As for needing extra staff, if you’ve already got a few cooks in the kitchen prepping for dinner, it’s usually not too onerous for them to turn out the occasional off-hours dish.

“Our staff is there anyways,” said Richardson, of Cafe Louis. “It’s just an area for growth.”

Gianna Giordano and James Kenney eat dinner at the bar at Lenora. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

“Staying open gives us our widest net of income, hours of generated income,” he said. “From the business standpoint, if you’re never open for happy hour, you’ll never have a good happy hour. And if you’re open for happy hour, sometimes it’s a good happy hour. It’s a game of numbers.” (Pro tip: Order the “Louis Burger,” a smash brisket patty with bacon, queso and tarragon mustard – and a happy-hour bestseller.)

Altiero, the consultant, also likes that, with the all-day model, kitchen equipment doesn’t sit idle.


“If you have a range sitting there from 2-4 p.m. and it’s not cooking something, it’s still there,” he said. “This is about using your physical plant. If you can keep all the stuff running, you are turning product. Even though you might spend more on labor, you lower your fixed cost by the volume. And that is really the ticket here: to lower the percentage of what your lightbulb costs by selling yet another slice of tomato.”

When Scott and Catalino decided to give the all-day model a try, they used similar reasoning. “We’re still paying the same bills, basically. We’re still taking the same risks. We still have the same rent,” Scott said. “But by adding coffee, we have the opportunity, the potential, to make more and to make (the business) more sustainable.”

In the few months it has been open, The Abbey has had days when the morning is slow and the night “absolutely insane,” Scott reported, as well as days when the morning is nuts and “the night is crickets.

“They even each other out,” he said. “It’s worked so far.”

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