Chef/owner Matt Louis and local restaurant developer Jay McSharry opened Moxy in Portsmouth’s Historic District in 2012. Sean Patrick Ouellette/Staff photographer

As no doubt you know by now, the Boston Marathon was been postponed until September. So why was Portsmouth chef Matt Louis running it on Monday?

Louis ran the full 26.2 miles on his treadmill at home and streamed it live online. He did it to raise money for the 126 people employed by his four Portsmouth restaurants – Moxy, Franklin, Street and Luigi’s.

Louis, 40, raised about $20,000 for his employees with the stunt, which took him three hours and 32 minutes. He said he was “pretty happy” with his time, especially since he had missed a couple of crucial weeks of training when the pandemic started and he had to put running on the back burner temporarily. Plus, he added: “The treadmill is hard.” (He talked with online viewers all through the run.)

Louis is an experienced runner. He ran two marathons when he was younger, and he’s run his share of 5ks and 10ks the past couple of years to get in shape and qualify for the Boston race. His friends had urged him to sign up. “I’ve always been a runner, and like a lot of people, always had the dream of Boston,” Louis said. “I never thought I was actually going to do it.”

He started his own personal race at 11:13 a.m., the exact time he would have started running in Boston, cheered on by a small group of employees holding signs outside his window.

He did well throughout the race, but when he stepped off the treadmill at 26.2 miles, it surprised him how much his legs were burning. He plans to run the race again, for real, in September.

Louis said he will put together a needs questionnaire to decide how to divvy up the money he raised among his employees. If someone is doing OK financially, “that doesn’t mean that they won’t get any,” he said. He just wants employees who are hungry or can’t pay their bills to have first priority. “I want to make sure the money is used in the best way possible, and I think everybody will be on board with that,” he said.

Louis’ GoFundMe account will remain online for another couple of days. To donate, go to gofundme.com/f/d9ffz-restaurant-staff

Food for laid-off staff
Briana Volk and Hayley Wilson, co-founders of Those Familiar Spirits (a group for women in the service industry), have started a program to make and deliver free weekly meals to restaurant and bar industry workers who have been laid off. They’ve named the program Family Meal, and the first meals will be delivered Sunday. Availability is first come, first served, but Volk and Wilson will get to everyone eventually, systematically working down their list of sign-ups.

Laid-off workers will receive either lasagna or macaroni and cheese, packaged with a baked treat and two cans of Rising Tide beer or soda.

Sponsors are helping to cover the food costs. The first meal is sponsored by Hardshore Distilling.

“I would also love any restaurant who wants to donate meals to feel free to do that,” said Volk, who is co-owner of the Portland Hunt & Alpine Club.

Sign up for a meal at forms.gle/TmJwCnvPCPLTxCyx9

Frontline Foods launches in Maine

Two friends who were born and raised in Maine have launched an organization here to help restaurants and the public feed frontline workers at local hospitals.

Lyle Divinsky, a touring musician who splits his time between Maine and California; and Christopher Curran, who works for Open Table and splits his time between Maine and New York, have launched a Maine chapter of Frontline Foods, a national organization that raises money to pay local restaurants to prepare meals for frontline workers. Nationally, the group has raised more than $2 million and delivered meals to workers in more than 150 hospitals. The group recently partnered with World Central Kitchen, the international nonprofit relief program led by chef Jose Andres, to scale up the program.

The goal of Frontline Foods is the same as the similarly named Feeding the Frontline, Curran said, “but what we’re doing is we’re trying to centralize and organize everything to make it as seamless as possible for people to donate to restaurants, to get orders, and for the deliveries to match up at times that hospitals need them.”

The hospitals won’t need to worry about how and when they are getting food, Divinsky added, because Frontline Foods will schedule everything. “The restaurants don’t have to wonder how many people they’re cooking for, how much money is coming in,” he said. “We provide that information for them, just to take the pressure off the restaurants and the hospitals. There’s a lot of stress on them right now.”

Divinsky and Curran have begun with Portland hospitals and hope to expand, eventually, to other parts of the state. Restaurants that have signed up so far include Duckfat, The Knotted Apron, Evo Kitchen + Bar, Luke’s Lobster Portland Pier, Chaval and Piccolo.

To donate, go to frontlinefoods.org/maine.

More help for restaurant workers
The Restaurant Strong Fund, a collaboration between Samuel Adams beer and the Greg Hill Foundation that launched in March to help restaurant workers affected by COVID-19 closures, has expanded to 20 states, including Maine, and is now offering $1,000 grants to workers who qualify. Samuel Adams donated $2 million to fund the expansion.

To qualify, full-time restaurant workers (a minimum of 30 hours per week) must fill out an application and submit their last two full-time pay stubs. To apply, or to donate to the fund, go to restaurantstrong.org.

User-friendly farm directory
Kathleen Cloutier and Neculai Archip, both from Massachusetts, were supposed to be getting married Saturday in a small wedding in Crete. Instead, for the past five weeks, the couple has been stuck at Cloutier’s father’s home in Poland, isolating themselves and helping him stay healthy.

As they were searching for ways to order fresh foods from local farms, they ran across the farm map and Google spreadsheet being maintained by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Service. But they found it too complicated for people who aren’t computer savvy. So instead of binge-watching Netflix, they developed their own website, beansuppah.com, where people can easily search by county and farm product.
And the wedding? City halls are closed now, so getting married will just have to wait.

Fat Boy rolls on

Fat Boy Drive-In has a new owner. Hannah LaClaire / The Times Record

After more than a year on the market, Fat Boy Drive-In in Brunswick is under new ownership. Mike Jerome, co-owner of the Brunswick Portland Pie Co. and Bolos Kitchen, Cantina and Candlepin, bought the 1955-era diner from Ken and Jeanne Burton, who have run the business for the past 36 years.

Jerome told the Times-Record that he plans to open with a limited menu to start, and will have social distancing measures in place where needed. The drive-in will now accept credit cards, and employees will be required to wear gloves and masks.

Something to look forward to
Definitive Brewing in Portland plans to open a second tap room, in Kittery this summer.

The tap room will be located at 318 Route 1, across from the Kittery Trading Post and Bob’s Clam Hut.

The brewery, located at 35 Industrial Way, recently won Boston Magazine’s third annual Malt Madness tournament, which pitted 64 New England breweries against each other in a bracket-style tournament. In the final bracket, Definitive beat out Hill Farmstead Brewery in Greensboro Bend, Vermont.

Help with home cooking

Annemarie Ahearn, owner of Salt Water Farm in Lincolnville, has written a new cookbook. Photo by Kristin Teig

Annemarie Ahearn’s new cookbook, her second, couldn’t have come along at a better time. It’s all about home cooking.

Ahearn, who runs a culinary school for home cooks at her Salt Water Farm in Lincolnville, launched the cookbook Tuesday on Instagram with a live kitchen and garden tour and Q&A session.

“Modern Country Cooking: Kitchen Skills and Seasonal Recipes from Salt Water Farm” (Shambhala, $35) is described as “a complete guide to the essentials of home cooking.” The 264-page cookbook contains more than 75 recipes, including Apple Cider Braised Chicken, Spicy Lobster Pasta and Rhubarb and Rye Cake.

Free beer!
There’s still time to contribute to the donation drive being held this week by Allagash Brewing Co. and Portland Public Schools. The drive is gathering hygiene products for those in need, including bar soap, unscented deodorant, cleaning wipes, toothpaste, shampoo and conditioner, and feminine hygiene products.

Drop off donations between 11 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. through Sunday at the Portland brewery, located at 50 Industrial Way. A donation bin is set up at the brewery’s curbside pickup station. All donors will receive a free beer as a thank you. Cheers!


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