Adapting – Whereas pivoting was all the fashion in 2020, the continuing challenges introduced by the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing labor scarcity has led to this much less knee-jerk, extra forward-thinking section of adjustment, which for the restaurant trade has meant every thing from simplifying menus, decreasing operating hours, or transferring to counter service to rising costs and wages.
B&M Baked Beans – The long-lasting baked bean firm that for greater than 150 years served as a supply of pleasure for the state, as a substitute each on the Portland skyline and at Saturday night dinner tables, introduced in August it would cease production at its waterfront manufacturing unit and promote the property to the Roux Institute for a deliberate know-how graduate faculty, analysis middle and enterprise incubator.
Prospects – For many years, the restaurant buyer, irrespective of how impolite or unreasonable, was at all times proper. Isn’t that the which means of hospitality? Today, although, with a pandemic that exhibits few indicators of abating, restaurant staff nonetheless on the entrance traces and eating places painfully understaffed, that dynamic is shifting. Restaurateurs counsel clients to indicate patience and kindness to their workers and to please respect the host when she tells you masks are required. Or else.
Dairy farmers vs. Danone – In August, after meals conglomerate Danone North America mentioned it will drop 14 natural Maine dairy farms from its roster, the farmers – already battered by slowing demand, different “milks” and elevated prices – responded that they is likely to be compelled to promote their herds and depart farming altogether. In mid-December, Danone, guardian firm of Horizon Natural, gave them a six-month reprieve. Keep tuned.
Edibles – Throw a stone nowadays and also you’ll hit a leisure, adult-use hashish dispensary. Hungry? From marijuana-infused caramels, blueberry jam and gummies, to sodas, Rice Krispies treats, and a lot extra, you possibly can fill up. However keep in mind, these treats are not for teenagers.
French, Erin – had one more busy yr. First, she wrote a memoir, “Discovering Freedom,” printed in April by Celadon. Then, 18 events bid to choice the e book for a film; producer Bruna Papandrea’s Made Up Tales and Endeavor Content material finally acquired the rights. This fall, Season 2 of “The Misplaced Kitchen,” a sequence based mostly on her restaurant of that identify in Freedom, premiered on Discovery Plus and Magnolia Community.
Gluten-free beer – Maine’s first dedicated gluten-free brewery, Fortunate Pigeon in Biddeford, opened in August. Brewer Scott Nebel, previously of Maine Beer Co. and Sebago Brewing, makes use of millet and rice instead of the standard gluten-containing grains to brew a wide range of types, together with pale, blonde and brown ales and a New England IPA. And within the associated there’s-a-beer-for-everybody class, in March, Kittery’s Woodland Farm’s Brewery launched Pointer, the state’s first non-alcoholic beer, whereas KITna Brewing, a Portland brewery solely dedicated to non-alcoholic beer, opened in December.
Arduous seltzer – One other in style choice for the gluten-averse, laborious seltzer showed up on tap lines at breweries all around the state this yr, which noticed a chance to capitalize on the craze began by nationwide manufacturers like White Claw and Really and to broaden their buyer base. Native laborious seltzers are additionally extensively obtainable in cans, together with these made by Après, a craft beverage maker with a seltzer focus that opened this summer time in Portland’s East Bayside.
Inoculation insurance policies – Among the many small group of Maine eating places and bars which have adopted insurance policies that require patrons to convey proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a current unfavourable COVID take a look at consequence are Buddies & Household (the place unvaccinated however masked clients might store, however not eat), Hunt + Alpine, Jewel Field, and Maine & Loire, all in Portland, in addition to Magnus on Water in Biddeford and Nina June in Rockport. The commerce group HospitalityMaine doesn’t maintain statistics on the variety of motels, eating places and bars throughout the state with such insurance policies.
Jamaican meals – Even when a tropical trip nonetheless feels past attain, choices for island flavors grew to become extra considerable this yr, with the opening of Caribbean Taste on Broadway in South Portland and Go See Tyce on Route 1 in Saco.
Knightville – The pandemic couldn’t cease the persevering with culinary renaissance of this South Portland neighborhood, which welcomed BenReuben’s Knishery in Could, Costa Rican and Caribbean spot Cafe Louis in July and retailer SoPo Seafood’s market and raw bar in September – all alongside a brief stretch of Ocean Avenue. Simply up the street, Taco Trio moved in October from its longtime dwelling into a bigger space, initially however briefly occupied by Massive Babe’s Tavern, a pair blocks away.
Lobster – Excessive costs (in Could, as a lot as $18 per pound for dwell lobster and, in October, wholesale costs of greater than $11 per pound) and Haddie, a cotton-candy coloured one-in-a-million lobster caught in Casco Bay. And who may overlook that the Chinese language media blamed a Maine lobster cargo for setting off the pandemic?
MOFGA – Based in 1971 by Maine’s earlier wave of back-to-the-landers, the Maine Natural Farmers and Gardeners Affiliation marked its fiftieth anniversary in August. The nonprofit – staunch champion of natural farming, mentor to starting farmers, organizer of the state’s beloved Widespread Floor Nation Truthful (just about, alas, for the previous two years) and far more – has nearly 4,200 members.
Now hiring – Just about all over the place. In case you’ve ever fantasized about working in meals service, you don’t have fear about your lack of expertise – your heat physique will probably be greater than welcome in lots of kitchens, eating rooms and sandwich retailers proper now.
Openings – Astoundingly, even in the course of a world-wide pandemic and a extreme labor scarcity, new eating places, bakeries and coffeeshops in Higher Portland continued to open their doors and their kitchens. Amongst newcomers we welcomed in 2021 had been Cheese Louise, Coveside Espresso, Crispy Gai, Falafal Time, Flores, Buddies & Household, Helm, Norimoto Bakery, Ruby’s West Finish, and Sarah’s Farmstand Kitchen, all in Portland; Caribbean Style and BenReuben’s Knishery in South Portland; and Jackrabbit in Biddeford.
Plastic bag ban – Grocery retailer staff all through Maine needed to rewrite their script when a statewide ban on single-use plastic baggage took effect in July. The ban is meant to cut back waste and litter, shield marine life from ingesting or changing into entangled in plastic, and curb using a cloth which even after lots of of years doesn’t break down. So while you fail to convey your personal reusable bag, be ready to listen to, “Paper (5 cents), or are you simply gonna carry that?”
Quitting – For a protracted decade or three, restaurant work appeared glamorous. America was in love with consuming out, and cooks catapulted to native and nationwide fame. The pandemic has modified the lens. Many restaurant workers have taken inventory of their 80-hour weeks, late hours, weekend shifts, low pay and lack of medical insurance. The consequence? When eating places opened up once more, some staff didn’t come again.
Proper whales – versus Maine lobstermen. Scientists estimate fewer than 350 North Atlantic proper whales stay, victims of ship strikes and lobster line entanglements. The Nationwide Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration describes them as “one of many world’s most endangered massive whale species.” Lobstermen argue that they’re the endangered species. The combat between the lobster trade and conservationists went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court docket this yr.
Provide chain – Whether or not it’s a local school lunch program that may’t safe juice, Monte’s in Portland unable to procure pizza boxes or the favored Blue Hill eatery El El Frijoles failing to get its fingers on rice, provide chain points have disrupted the native (and nationwide) meals trade.
Vacationers return – Ongoing pandemic or no, they’re back. Within the first seven months of the yr, patrons spent greater than $2.5 billion at Maine eating places and motels, nearly $1 billion greater than in the identical interval in 2020, and likewise larger than the $2.3 billion spent throughout these months in 2019. The information comes courtesy of Maine Income Providers. And simply attempt getting a reservation at a stylish restaurant final summer time.
Unalienable proper to meals – Voters in November passed a constitutional amendment giving Mainers “a pure, inherent and unalienable proper to meals, together with the appropriate to avoid wasting and change seeds and the appropriate to develop, elevate, harvest, produce and eat the meals of their very own selecting for their very own nourishment, sustenance, bodily well being and well-being.” Simply what does that imply? Some say it’s a dedication to a good meals system and native suppliers, whereas others consider it opens the door for unsafe practices.
Vietnamese breakfast – Cong Tu Bot switched to breakfast and located (extra) fame within the pages of the New York Instances, which listed the Portland restaurant among the many “50 locations we’re most enthusiastic about proper now.” Reporter Priya Krishna wrote, “A meal right here is an especially compelling argument for the prevalence of Vietnamese breakfast meals.”
Wares – Positive you should purchase food and drinks at eating places, breweries and the like. However that’s so 2019. what else you should purchase? Merch. Lots of merch. Branded hats, shirts, hoodies, onesies and plenty extra are all the fashion at meals companies across the state. To indicate your help for an area enterprise that’s little doubt struggled mightily throughout the pandemic, put on your love.
Xed out – Sadly, every thing has a season, together with eating places and different meals companies. Amongst these we mentioned goodbye to in 2021 had been Invoice’s Pizza, Emilitsa, Figgy’s, Little Big, MJ’s Wine Bar, Mt. Desserts Pie Firm, Different Facet Deli (West Finish), Pigeons (to this place we mentioned each hi there and goodbye), all in Portland; 158 Pickett Avenue Cafe in South Portland; Biscuits and Co. and Yeto’s in Biddeford; Pearl Kennebunk in, yep, Kennebunk; Grand Central Wine Bar in Gorham; and the Stonewall Kitchen Cooking Faculty in York. Additionally, Botto’s Bakery in Portland, which as soon as had instances brimming with traditional Italian-American cookies and pastries, stopped its sweets manufacturing, though it nonetheless sells bread.
York Hill Farm – In September, within the Maine Cheese Guild’s first ever Maine Cheese Awards, the Washington creamery gained Greatest in Present for its recent Inexperienced Peppercorn and Nutmeg Roll. Altogether, 20 of Maine’s 65 registered creameries entered 105 cheeses into the competitors. “We wish to present the true publicity and recognition our cheesemakers deserve,” Cheese Guild President (and Portland’s Damaged Arrow co-owner) Holly Aker mentioned concerning the inaugural awards.
Zen out – Cooks have needed to find ways to do it amongst all of the stress, from always Adapting (see A). They meditated, exercised, signed up for remedy and gardened. Sort of like all the remainder of us.