In case you didn’t hear the collective gasp that reverberated across Portland on Friday, the big restaurant news of the week was the permanent closure of Drifters Wife on Washington Avenue.

Owners Peter and Orenda Hale announced on social media that they could no longer wait for better times and had to shutter the award-winning restaurant for good. They said they plan to keep the space at 59 Washington Ave., “but need to reimagine what’s inside.”

Drifters Wife made Bon Appetit’s list of America’s Best New Restaurants in 2018, and soon after the magazine put it on its “Hot 10” restaurants in the United States. Chef Ben Jackson is a finalist for a James Beard Award this year in the category “Best Chef: Northeast.” (Those awards will be announced in September.)

The Hales said their wine shop next door to the restaurant, Maine & Loire, will continue to offer contact-free, curbside pick-up until they judge the time is right to reopen it.

Fashion-forward fish

If you’ve been buying lobster, oysters, clams, haddock and halibut this summer to support your local fishermen (and eat well), here’s another way to help ensure that great local seafood keeps showing up on your table.

Hayley Brown, daughter of Joe Nickerson, poses with the tote bag she helped design in honor of her father, who perished at sea in January. Photo courtesy of Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association

The Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association is selling a tote bag designed by Hayley Brown, the daughter of Capt. Joe Nickerson, who perished at sea with his crew in January while fishing on the F/V Hayley Ann. Nickerson was vice-chairman of the association for seven years, and in 2019 he was elected chairman of the board. His death rocked the Maine fishing community.

Nickerson’s daughter teamed up with the association and Sea Bags to design a tote that would both honor her father’s legacy and raise money to support the group’s advocacy for sustainable fisheries. One side of the bag features the F/V Hayley Ann, and the other the association’s logo. Inside the bag is a chart of the Gulf of Maine, with a heart identifying the location where the Hayley Ann was lost at sea.

The bags cost $210, which includes shipping, and will be printed and shipped in August. To pre-order, go to

Cold beer for hot, humid days

Sebago Brewing Co. is reopening all of its businesses Thursday at 4 p.m.

The opening includes both indoor and outdoor seating at the Sebago brewpubs in Gorham, Kennebunk, Portland and Scarborough, and the tasting room on Main Street in Gorham.

No more than eight people will be allowed per table. If tables are full, parties will be put on a wait list and must wait in their cars or outside the dining space, at least 6 feet apart.

Gross resumes serving food

Gross Confection Bar in Portland plans to reopen Wednesday. Bakery items will be available from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., and the full dessert and bar menu will be served beginning at 4 p.m.

The bakery/restaurant closed for about a week after the roommate of a staff member tested positive for COVID-19. The Maine CDC did not require the restaurant to close – the employee had not interacted with guests, and was not symptomatic – but it did anyway out of “an abundance of caution,” chef/owner Brant Dadaleares said.

Food in a box

The Eat Drink Lucky newsletter, which each day sends out information about food and fun activities in Maine, has launched a series of monthly boxes filled with locally produced specialty foods and a “Lucky” item.

The daily newsletter Eat Drink Lucky has started offering subscription boxes. Photo courtesy of Gillian Britt

The August box contains a five-ounce jar of Little Lad’s herbal seasoning, 12 ounces of whole bean Eat Drink Lucky coffee from Coffee By Design, and a set of five hand-printed rooster note cards, designed by Morris + Essex in a Limington farmhouse studio. The box costs $42.

To find out about future boxes, which get delivered to your home or that of your specified recipient, email [email protected] and put EDL Box in the subject line.


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