A farm box from Craft Curbsude, a new local market in Gray. Photo courtesy of Craft Curbside

Craft Curbside, a new local foods market at 81 West Gray Road in Gray, announced that it plans to start serving quick-service meals, prepared foods and cocktail mixers Wednesday.

Once the business gets its liquor license, cocktails-to-go will be added to the menu.

The shop, open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, is a project of three former Liquid Riot bartenders: Dylan Stafford, Chase Rochon and Tyler Reinhart. The buddies had planned to open a much larger restaurant together in Windham, but then along came COVID-19. The trio decided to push forward with their dream of starting a business, but had to make it pandemic-proof – a business that could withstand the ups and downs of surges in the virus and potential new restaurant dining restrictions. From a creative standpoint, they didn’t want to have to be beholden to too many investors.

“The three of us are all doing this out of pocket,” Stafford said. “We have a few family and friends that are investors.”

Their goal is to connect local residents with “hyper-local” sources of meats, produce and cheese. Craft Curbside has been selling farm boxes for about a month through its website, craftcurbside.com, Stafford said, explaining they are like CSA boxes but require no subscription. Customers order boxes (ranging from $60 for a box for two up to $170 for a box that feeds six) week to week, for delivery to homes in Portland and Gray.

The trio plans to sell meal kits in the shop that include a protein, vegetable and starch, along with a recipe and bundle of herbs. Prepared foods will include items such as paninis, salads, wraps, lobster cakes and sandwiches.

Craft Curbside can seat seven customers inside and will have a picnic table outside.

Stafford said Craft Curbside is working with Gray schools on a project to raise money to pay off school lunch debt, and is developing a monthly educational session where students would learn about how food is grown and how to use farm-grown ingredients in cooking.

Laotian food with a southern twist comes to Auburn

The Mother Clucken Biscuit at Mu Noi Brunch: Red Curry fried chicken on a buttermilk biscuit, with greens, pickled mustard seeds, sunny-side-up egg, shaved red onion and chili aioli. Photo courtesy of Mu Noi Brunch

Every once in a while a restaurant opens elsewhere in the state that I truly wish could be transported to Portland. Mu Noi Brunch, a new Laotian-American restaurant at 1056 Center St. in Auburn, is one of those places. Mu Noi means “Little Pig” – the pet name for the owners’ baby daughter.

The restaurant is owned by Sayvepen and Elise Sengsavang. “Chef Sav” is a first-generation Laotian-American born in New York and raised in coastal Virginia. His food blends Southeast Asian food with southern soul food.

The menu includes items like a grilled cheese on sourdough bread made with red curry pimento cheese (personally, I can’t wait to try this), sliced cheese, tomato, bacon and greens.

One of the chef’s favorite dishes is Khao Punh, braised red curry pork and soba noodles served with shredded cabbage, shredded carrots, mint, cilantro, scallion and poached egg. The restaurant’s Cock-a-Doodle Doo is red curry fried chicken on waffles, served with in-house pickles, chili-maple syrup and scallion butter. And fresh fruit is accompanied by roasted rice, sugar, salt and chili dipping powder. For all you banh mi lovers, the pun-heavy menu includes sandwiches with silly names like Can’t Banh Mi Love and Stand Banh Mi.

Mu Noi Brunch is open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. It has limited indoor dining, but everything is available for take-out.

Grab-and-go food, plus Lucky Charms marshmallows!

Je’s has opened at 46 Veranda St., the former home of Union Bagel and Pizza Time. Owner Jamie Brichetto has lived in the neighborhood for 25 years and says her new neighborhood market is a longtime dream. She leased the building in November and planned to open in February, but between difficulty scheduling an inspection and the emergence of the coronavirus, the launch was delayed until July.

The store, which is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Saturday, serves grab-and-go foods such as burgers, BLTs, hot dogs, chicken salads, chicken sandwiches, fried Oreos, omelets, and Union bagels. Brichetto plans to start serving pizza very soon. The store also offers a candy wall stocked with 17 kinds of candy sold by the pound, and Brichetto is selling popular treats such as Lucky Charms marshmallows, too.

Brichetto’s son attends Presumpscot Elementary School, and she sponsors the school’s basketball team, so she’s also built a school section that will sell things like pencils and trinkets for kids.

Once Brichetto gets the OK from the city, the market will have a few picnic tables.

Corsetti’s temporarily closed

Corsetti’s restaurant and bakery in Westbrook announced Friday that it was closing temporarily “out of an abundance of caution” because a staff member had tested positive for COVID-19.

“Although it is not a state requirement,” the managers wrote on the restaurant’s Facebook page, “we have decided to close until it is safe for both staff and customers to return. Above all, we value the health of our community.”

Staff members who may have been exposed to the virus are being tested.

Corsetti’s has been serving pizzas, calzones, burgers and sandwiches in Westbrook since 1974.

Free ice cream for nurses

The thank yous to front line workers continue this week with free Ben & Jerry’s ice cream for Maine nurses.

On Wednesday, Tom Murphy of the Ben & Jerry’s on Union Street in Kennebunkport will scoop ice cream from noon to 1:30 p.m. in the physician’s parking lot at the Mercy Hospital State Street campus in Portland. On Thursday, at the same time, Murphy will be at Mercy Hospital’s Fore River Campus. Two hundred scoops of ice cream will be given away each day to working nurses.

The giveaway is part of the company’s national effort to reward essential workers with a quarter million scoops of ice cream from its scoop shops, which are now re-opening in some states. No word on what the flavors will be. Given the state of the world, we suggest Chip Happens and Chocolate Therapy.

Frontier Café offering access to online films

Michael “Gil” Gilroy, owner of the Frontier Café in Fort Andross in Brunswick, wrote in the café’s newsletter last week that he expects the business to remain closed for the foreseeable future. Gilroy’s wife, Chelsy, was diagnosed with a rare cancer the same week Frontier closed because of the pandemic.

“If the pandemic had the effect of upending daily life,” he wrote, “managing the weight of cancer during a pandemic has been a cruel twist in that upending … It has been a particularly heavy and unsettling time.”

Gilroy said his wife has successfully completed radiation treatment and surgery, and is now recovering.

“As for Frontier’s future, I honestly don’t yet know what that looks like, but I suspect it will be different.”

For now, Gilroy is continuing Frontier’ Virtual Cinema Series, a collection of movies chosen by Frontier that customers can watch online from the safety of their homes. The films include “The Woman Who Loves Giraffes,” “Ella Fitzgerald” and “Fantastic Fungi.” Ticket prices vary, and a portion of the proceeds will support Frontier during its temporary closure.

Shave ice for summer

Haole Ice, a food cart that serves Hawaiian shave ice, launched in Portland late last week. The cart has been setting up on the Eastern Prom, by the playground, beginning at noon until 5 or 6 p.m. – or whenever they sell out.

However, owners Don and Julie Martin announced on their Instagram that they would be taking three or four days off  “to recharge and get ready to really get this thing off the ground. We will post when we are open and where we’ll be as far in advance as we can as we get into a more consistent schedule.”


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