Inside The Garden, the new restaurant at Bissell Brothers in Portland, during a recent soft-opening dinner. Courtesy of Bissell Brothers

Bissell Brothers Brewing is launching The Garden, an upscale “restaurant within a restaurant” concept at their Thompson’s Point flagship location on Thursday.

The new restaurant is located in the 3,500-square-foot space that was formerly home to Rosemont Market and Wine Bar at 38 Resurgam Place in Portland. The Garden spotlights cuisine and wines from northern Italy and the Adriatic Sea region, while Bissell’s adjacent taproom will continue to feature a pub-style menu.

“There was interest in the staff to do something different,” owner Peter Bissell explained. “We have one environment in the taproom, but we have cooks with a lot of talent who wanted to reach further, and we wanted to offer cocktails and wines that we were really psyched about and put time into selecting. It’s audacious and pretty lofty, but we want to be able to have these two different environments for every kind of customer.”

The menu at The Garden includes dishes like char-grilled octopus with confit garlic and castelvetrano olives ($21), cavatelli pasta with braised lamb neck and cherry pastissada ($29), and bavette steak coated in Adriatic spice blend with grilled baby cauliflower ($33). The bar program offers cocktails and a wine list spotlighting Croatian and Slovenian wines.

“(The Garden) really embodies the Bissell spirit,” Bissell said. “This is what we’ve always done, branching into new territories in beer and service, and this is just sort of a natural next iteration for us.”

The Garden will be open Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 5 to 10 p.m., and Sunday from 5 to 8 p.m.


Low Key, a bar launching this week on Munjoy Hill in Portland. Courtesy of Low Key


The owners of Jing Yan restaurant plan to open their new neighborhood bar, Low Key, on Munjoy Hill this Thursday.

“We’re opening to the public on Thursday, but we’re calling it a soft opening because we don’t know what mistakes will be made on our part,” laughed Britt Langford, who is co-owner along with husband Leo Zhang. “We’re a neighborhood place, so we’re not going to have any sort of private opening, because that’s the opposite of what we want to do.”

The beverage program includes cocktails, wine and beer, along with bar snacks ($5-$14) including deviled eggs, shrimp cocktail and a charcuterie board, and a selection of panini ($14). Low Key will also sell house-mixed soft-serve ice cream, with blueberry and sea salt vanilla flavors available for the launch.

The space at 89 Congress St. – formerly occupied by farm-to-table bistro Blue Spoon – has room for about 25 customers. Langford and Zhang opened Jing Yan across the street in November 2020, and envision Low Key as a casual, fun neighborhood gathering place.

“It took longer than I had hoped, but it always does,” Langford said. “We really had a fire lit under us to get this place open. The neighborhood seems excited. Hopefully, we live up to the expectations.”


Low Key’s regular hours will be Wednesday through Sunday from 4 to 11 p.m., with the ice cream window open weekends from noon to 3:30 p.m.


Model T Coffee Company, which recently opened on Congress Street. Photo courtesy of Model T Coffee Co

Model T Coffee Company launched May 3 on Congress Street in the former Coffee By Design location.

Co-owner Matthew Morgan said the new shop sells coffee brewed from Coffee By Design beans, along with donuts from Tony’s Donuts, bagels from Union Bagel Company and pastries from Baker’s Bench in Westbrook. Model T also serves breakfast sandwiches ($5) and lunch fare ($10) like chicken salad sandwiches and BLTs.

The beverage offerings include energy drinks that can be flavored with a selection of 16 syrups. Model T will also sell nitro and cold-brew coffee on tap later this month, also prepared from Coffee By Design beans.

“We’ve packed a lot in a little place,” Morgan said.


Morgan negotiated taking over the lease for the 620 Congress St. space at the end of last year with Coffee By Design owner Mary Allen Lindemann. Coffee By Design closed that location last fall, citing post-pandemic-related challenges including staffing shortages and reduced foot traffic downtown.

Morgan and his wife, Stephanie, also own Bru-Thru Coffee Shack in Cumberland and the Model T Coffee Co food trailer, which both also sell Coffee By Design coffee.

Model T is open seven days a week, from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays and 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.


The owners of The Cheese Shop of Portland plan to open a new all-day café, wine bar and market on Forest Avenue this fall.

Mary Chapman-Sissle and her husband, Will Sissle, said Sissle and Daughters will be located at 634 Forest Ave., which was formerly an auto garage. The 1,300-square-foot space will include a café featuring cappuccino, espresso and coffee drinks in the morning, along with light breakfast items such as house-baked goods and quiches.


Later in the day, the space will convert to a wine bar “with exciting wines that won’t be seen at every other place you can get a glass of wine in town,” Chapman-Sissle said, adding that the menu will feature cheese plates and charcuterie with housemade pâtés and other light fare.

The venue will have a full kitchen, so they’ll also sell sandwiches and prepared meals to go, like mac and cheese, lasagna, beef bourguignon and other braised meat dishes. “It’s meant to be a resource for the neighborhood and families. People can stop in after work, have a glass of wine, then grab something to take home for dinner,” Chapman-Sissle said.

Sissle and Daughters will also have a small retail space featuring a pared-down selection of the items they sell at The Cheese Shop, including pastas, olive oil and wines to-go.

The space can seat 20 customers inside, with outdoor patio seating for about 15. “Our goal was to have a space that would feel a touch intimate and to make sure that everybody who comes in would be helped to the hospitality standard we want to set,” said Sissle. “We want to make everyone feel appreciated for their time with us.

“We’re lucky because it has a big parking lot, so we’ll have up to a dozen parking spaces for customers, which is always very important in town,” he added. “People seem to be almost as much excited for the parking as the food and wine.”

The owners plan to launch in October. They emphasized that their Washington Avenue shop, which they launched in 2018, would stay open.


“This is a separate business, and it’s meant to complement and expand upon what we do at The Cheese Shop,” Chapman-Sissle said.


The owners of Navis Cafe plan to open a new restaurant on Thames Street this summer in the former space of Helm Oyster Bar & Bistro.

The new venture at 60 Thames St. in Portland, to be called Thames Landing, will offer “a modern New England fare experience,” according to co-owner Mark Roy. It will feature dishes like lobster rolls, burgers, chowder, fish and chips, chicken, steak and salads, and the restaurant will be open for lunch, dinner and brunch.

Co-owner Renae Roy said they’ve owned Navis Cafe next door to the space for four years. “We were able to get a good feel of the area and what that part of Portland needs and wants, and how we could best utilize the space,” she said. “When the opportunity came where we could lease it, we snatched it up.”

Helm closed earlier this spring after three years in business, citing  a variety of reasons including staffing, labor costs, inflation and location.


Mark Roy said Thames Landing will be able to seat 66 customers inside, and another 32 on the patio. He estimated that checks for an appetizer and entree will come to $45-$55.

The Roys aim to open Thames Landing by July or August.


After months of renovations on the site, The Holy Donut is launching its Brunswick location later this month.

The new shop will be located at 145 Pleasant St., the former home of Canadian doughnut chain Tim Horton’s. The store will be the fifth location for The Holy Donut – which specializes in potato donuts – including two stores in Portland, one in Scarborough and another in Arundel. The company briefly had a store in Auburn, but it underperformed and was closed in 2022.

The grand opening of the Brunswick location is set for May 17.


“Bringing The Holy Donut to Brunswick and the Midcoast region is an exciting venture for us,” said Jeff Buckwalter, co-owner and CEO of The Holy Donut, in a news release. “The community’s vibrant spirit is a perfect match for our brand, and we’re eager to introduce our handcrafted donuts to new friends and neighbors.”


Magnus On Water in Biddeford was recently recognized as one of the world’s top bars by a new international review system called The Pinnacle Guide.

The Biddeford restaurant’s cocktail bar program was awarded one pin, which recognizes “excellent” cocktail bars. It was one of only 25 bars worldwide – and just six in the United States – to receive the honor.

The guide awarded two pins – its “outstanding” category – to only 12 bars, including four in the U.S. No bars received three pins, the “exceptional” category, in the guide’s first list.

Recently founded by bar professionals behind London Cocktail Week and the British event management company Global Bartending, The Pinnacle Guide bases its awards on “a thorough self-application process, rigorous assessment modules, followed by a series of spot check interviews and anonymous in-bar reviews,” according to its website.


“In revealing this first list, we have been able to realize our goal of celebrating the extraordinary range of cocktail bars the world has to offer, from tiny drinking dens to majestic hotel bars,” guide co-founder Dan Dove said in a news release. “We’re proud of our unique submissions process, which has allowed these deserving bars to shine – and we’re excited to shed light on many many more in the months and years to come.”


The third annual Maine Wild Wine Fest is set for Saturday, May 18, at the Wolfe’s Neck Center in Freeport.

The event is open to anyone with an interest in natural wines, and will feature more than 35 noted U.S.-based natural wine makers and international importers. The one-day festival offers two attendance sessions: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., though the second session has already sold out.

This year’s event will feature a workshop, “Transparency in Winemaking,” hosted by Portland-based R.A.S. Wines, which is co-owned by Joe Appel, former Portland Press Herald wine columnist. The workshop highlights their four years in wine making, the changes they’ve made with each vintage, and what they’ve learned about working with alternative fruit. Guests can taste four different vintages of R.A.S. wild blueberry wines, and discuss them at length.

Tickets for the Fest are $55, available online.


Woodford Food & Beverage, on Forest Avenue in Portland, a finalist in the Outstanding Hospitality category of the upcoming James Beard Awards, is marking the occasion with a party.

The event is set for May 14 from 5 to 9 p.m., the restaurant announced Monday on social media. The party will feature “rafts of old-school hors d’oeuvres” and a cash bar. Proceeds from the suggested $20 donation will go to the Locker Project, which provides meals for food-insecure children in Maine.

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