The pandemic continues to pummel the hospitality world, as several more bars and restaurants have closed permanently. On the bright side, a few places have opened, too.

Sande Updegraph / For The Forecaster

More & Co., a shop, cafe and creative studio in Yarmouth near the Yarmouth Boat Yard, is closing permanently Sunday after eight years in business, according to a post on Facebook from owners Maria Vettese and Christopher Ryan. In addition to beautiful home goods, More & Co. began offering quality coffee, cakes, cookies, soups and snacks in 2018.

Ernie’s Pool & Darts, 815 Forest Ave. in Portland, has also closed. “With a heavy heart I have decided to close Ernie’s,” owner Dona Hachey wrote on Facebook last month. “This is very difficult for me to do. I have worked/owned this great bar for over 25 years. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.” Some 50 people responded on Facebook, sad to hear the beloved bar was closing. Posted James Hardman in a characteristic comment, Ernie’s “was a staple date night destination for my wife and me, and the regulars always made us feel like part of the crew. They only made us feel more welcome when we started bringing our baby with us. R.I.P. a great Portland institution.”

And while we’re catching up on pandemic-related permanent closures, Po’ Boys & Pickles closed its downtown location earlier this fall. Owner Chris Bettera said that with schools closed, few tourists, office employees working remotely, and very little foot traffic, his decision was clear. Still, “it was a bummer,” he said, as he’d opened the space, at 225 Federal St., after much hard work just eight months earlier and was doing well pre-pandemic. The original Forest Avenue location of Po’ Boys & Pickles remains open for business.

As for openings: The Devil’s Half Acre Distillery has opened in Bangor and has released its Jigger & Jones American Gin, made by military veterans, according to a news release. The distillery name is a nod to the many saloons and brothels Bangor was home to in 1890, mostly clustered in a downtown neighborhood known as the Devil’s Half Acre. The gin itself is named for brothel-keeper Fan Jones, “a gracious, slender and elegant businesswoman,” the release says, as well as legendary lumberjack Albert “Jigger” Johnson. Find out where you can buy the gin at devilshalfacredistillery.com.

Also now open, Ghost: Karen’s Kitchens in Gorham. The place, which describes itself as “six takeout joints under one roof,” opened Dec. 7 and is the brainchild of owner Karen Nason.

Temporary closures

Dining inside at East Ender – back in the day. The restaurant will be open for pop-up takeout and delivery service only this winter. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

East Ender, 47 Middle St. in Portland, has stopped eat-in restaurant service for the winter. “While we are still confident that our safety measures are effective, the volume of business that we need to maintain is not happening during this crisis,” a note on the restaurant’s website says. The restaurant is, however, hosting occasional pop-ups for delivery and takeout serving its signature “casual, fun and hearty food.” A popup that started Tuesday offers items like homemade pork frankfurters with mashed potatoes and Irish chutney, and a Triple Threat grain bowl with tabouleh, carrot hummus, pickled carrots, roasted carrots and pistachio dukka. East Ender says it looks forward to “coming back strong” in the spring.

Dunstan Tap & Table in Scarborough closed for a day last week,  “erring on the side of caution,” after a staff member tested positive for COVID-19, the restaurant announced on Facebook. The restaurant was cleaned “top to bottom,” employees were tested and quarantined as necessary, and Dunstan Tap & Table is now once again open for business.

SOS!

A gay bar dating back more than three decades, Blackstones, at 6 Pine St. in Portland, has started a GoFundMe campaign so that it can survive the pandemic. As of early evening Tuesday, it had raised more than $15,500 toward its $25,000 goal.

Blackstones, which has been shuttered because of the pandemic, describes itself on Facebook as more than a bar. “For many of us it is a home, a family, a lifeline, a safe space to be our individual selves and meet others like us. It’s one of the best places to play pool, and certainly the most intimate place to see a drag show.”

In its fundraising campaign, Blackstones wrote it “has arrived at a moment that is far too familiar for organizations and institutions across this City, State and the Country. We are asking for help. And, as we are about to enter the ninth month of self finance, we have come to the end of our means. This space is in danger.”

Community Champ

Islandport Press/courtesy of Karl Schatz

The “Maine Bicentennial Community Cookbook” earned recognition in several categories at the Readable Feast New England cookbook awards earlier this month. The book, a charming collection of recipes (old and new) from Mainers (old and new), earned three honorable mentions: for Book of the Year, New England Book of the Year, and the People’s Choice award. The Readable Feast is a five-year-old Boston-based contest – judges come from several New England states including Maine (this reporter included) – that annually recognizes the best food books and cookbooks in the region.

Karl Schatz, who compiled and edited the “Maine Bicentennial Community Cookbook” with his wife, Margaret Hathaway, said it will go into its fourth printing next week. It was released by Islandport in June.

Lobster lessons

Mastercard and Get Maine Lobster, a company that ships lobsters direct to consumers, have teamed up to offer virtual cooking classes for Mastercard holders. Each of the three classes also includes the lobsters and other seafood, recipe cards, shopping lists and suggested wine pairings.

Chef Fabio Viviani, star of the series “Fabio’s Kitchen,” opens the series on Dec. 18. He’ll be followed by Mainers Cara Stadler (Tao Yuan in Brunswick and BaoBao Dumpling House in Portland) and Courtney Loreg (Woodford Food & Beverage in Portland), who will each teach a class, respectively Date Night at Home and Savory Lobster Corn Pudding. The cooking classes – all part of part of Mastercard’s Priceless Cities program – are free but the cost of the seafood ranges from $129 to $169.

Outdoor eating at Little Giant in November. The restaurant has expanded and “winter-proofed” its backyard outdoor dining. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Al fresco dining

Little Giant, in Portland’s West End, has expanded its outdoor backyard dining area, and equipped it with electric heaters and weatherproof chairs and tables. Pending approval from the city, the area, which the restaurant describes as a “four-season backyard dining room,” will open on Dec. 18, according to a news release. “With snow, ice and freezing cold temperatures, we are taking extreme measures to stay open,” owner Ian Malin explained in the release. He plans to offset the additional electricity consumption with 100 percent renewable energy, purchased locally.


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