April Tourtelotte, left, Lucy Carves, 2, Oakland Carves, 6 months, and Maegan Carves paint the walls Saturday at Ruby’s Bakery in Gardiner. The children helped paint the bakery that is named in honor of the sisters’ late mother, Ruby. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

GARDINER — April Tourtelotte took a short break Friday from her work at 242 Water St. to reflect on the amount still ahead of her; right now, it’s a lot.

Tourtelette and her partner, Maegan Carves, are planning to open Ruby’s Place, a scratch bakery and sandwich shop, in early September.

Their enterprise will bring just one of a number of changes to Water Street this summer and fall that will again reshape the face of Gardiner’s downtown.

“If you were to account for all the marijuana shops that were in the works and their locations, we don’t have too many vacancies that weren’t already in existence,” said Melissa Lindley, executive director of Gardiner Main Street.

Tourtelotte said she and Carves had been looking at spaces in downtown Gardiner to start their business. When they saw the space into which they are now moving, it was perfect, Tourtelotte said, and it was time to make the change.

“I like baking and I’m pretty doggone good at it,” she said. “We’ve wanted to do it for a very, very long time. Life just happened. We had kids, and stuff happened, so now or never. Here we are.”

The space became available when Lisa’s Legit Burritos relocated to 304 Water St., the former home of Pasta’z, which announced it was closing earlier this year.

As part of its move, West Street Neighbors, the limited liability corporation that owns the burrito restaurant, applied for and received a liquor license for the new location earlier this month.

The focus for Tourtelotte and Carves was Gardiner, and they had looked at several spaces when they heard the space would become available. They looked at it and it was perfect for their needs.

In addition to the baked goods — muffins, cinnamon rolls, breads, bagels, seasonal pies, quiche and, eventually, cakes — they plan to offer grab-and-go sandwiches for people who may not have time for a sit-down lunch.

As much as they would like to be open in a week, Tourtellotte said Sept. 1 is a more-realistic target.

Co-owners John Callinan, left, and Rick McCormick at Jokers & Rogues Brewing in downtown Gardiner. The bar and tabletops are made from wood salvaged from lanes of a bowling alley in Boothbay Harbor. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

At 339 Water St., John Callinan and Rick McCormick recently took down the “Coming Soon” sign posted in the window of Jokers & Rogues Brewing, their craft brewery and tasting room.

“We felt like we were lying to everyone,” McCormick said.

Callinan and McCormick have been working to transform the former home of Craft Beer Cellars into a brewery, with the brewing equipment on the lower floor and the tasting room on the Water Street level, complete with tables made from maple flooring salvaged from Romar Bowling Lanes in Boothbay Harbor before it was demolished in 2017. A photo of the bowling alley hangs above the taps at the bar.

A little less than a year ago, they thought they might be open for business by the end of 2019. The process of opening has been drawn out by the global coronavirus pandemic that shut down business in the state earlier in the year.

“Two Irishmen decide to go into the brewery business,” Callinan said. “What could go wrong?”

Callinan said they have submitted their applications. When approved, they will start brewing. He expects that to be in the fall, perhaps by the end of September.

“It has been a long process, but we’ve been pretty fortunate,” Callinan said. “We got good tradespeople in to do the electricity and the plumbing and install the brewery downstairs.”

“We plan to have the menus for the restaurants here,” Callinan said, so people can see their options for a meal in Gardiner.

As they have been working on their space, they have seen an uptick in traffic and interest on Water Street, including in neighboring buildings.

Work has been underway at the east end of downtown Gardiner, as well.

Earlier this summer, the owners of Domino’s Pizza held a ribbon cutting to mark the reopening of the restaurant at 192 Water St., which was damaged in a fire at the end of 2018. Now that the restaurant is open, attention is turning to the upper floor.

Gardiner Main Street is among the tenants leasing space there starting Sept. 1, and the organization will start moving into its new space soon.

The nonprofit agency, whose job it is to foster a vibrant downtown neighborhood, has used space in the Gardiner Public Library since vacating space in the Dingley Block about a year ago, after the buildings were sold.

Alan Claude and Erin Skehan bought two of the buildings and have been converting them into apartments and a studio on the upper floors, and retail space on the ground floor for a gallery for Alan Claude Inc. to display Claude’s contemporary art.

They have announced via Facebook their gallery opening, originally scheduled for June, is now expected in late August.

When Gardiner Main Street acquired the Dingley Block from Camden National Bank, it also got a vacant lot east of the buildings that is the former site of Bailey’s Auto Sales.

It secured a grant from the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development to address the industrial contaminants on the site a year ago, and the work has now been completed.

In capping the site, the sloping, quarter-acre parcel has been leveled and is ready for development. For now, it is being used to supplement parking on the street.

“We have put up ‘Park at your own risk’ signs,” Lindley said.

Related Headlines


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.