Big Tree Hospitality, owner of three well-known Portland restaurants (Eventide Oyster Co., The Honey Paw, Hugo’s), is taking over operations at Higgins Beach Market at 82 Spurwink Road in Scarborough.

The market should be open for the season by Memorial Day weekend, said Kristin Rocha, director of marketing and communications at Big Tree. It will operate seven days a week, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m, and sell breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as grab-and-go options, local produce, beer and wine, fresh flowers and sundries.

A statement from Big Tree says: “We love (the market) for what it has been all these years – a perfect place to stop in for a post-surf breakfast sandwich, all the fixings for a beach picnic, an easy dinner after a long day in the sun, or a few small necessities – and have no plans to reimagine it as an outpost for our Portland restaurants.”

The previous owners of the small seasonal market, Morgan and Elsa Shafer, announced in October they were selling the business “to spend more consistent time with family.” The Shafers owned the market since 2018. Big Tree will be a tenant of the building, which was recently purchased by an old friend of chef Mike Wiley, co-owner of Big Tree.

For updates on the market, visit @higginsbeachmkt.

Mast Landing coming to Freeport

Mast Landing beers, left to right: All the Way Up Sour Ale with Blackberry and Lime, Windbreaker IPA, Gunner’s Daughter Milk Stout. Photo courtesy of Mast Landing Brewing Co.

Westbrook-based Mast Landing Brewing Co. plans to open a large tasting room and pilot brewing facility in Freeport this summer.

The 11,000-square-foot space in the Freeport Crossing shopping center will have two floors and lots of room for outdoor seating. A 4,000-square-foot space on the second floor will be available for private events, the company said. It has not yet announced an opening day.

Mast Landing will use the on-site brewing facility to develop small-batch beers to be sold exclusively at the Freeport location, along with some of the brewery’s flagship beers. Still to come: A culinary partner who will operate out of the adjacent kitchen space to make lunch and dinner for tasting room customers, and a catering menu for private events.

Mast Landing, founded in 2016, already has a tasting room and production facility in Westbrook. In 2019, the Brewers Association named it one of the fastest-growing craft breweries in America.

Seafood on Shore Road

The Maine Catch is scheduled to open at 262 Shore Road in Ogunquit on May 3.

The new seafood restaurant is owned by First Serve Hospitality Group, which also owns Bob’s Clam Hut and Robert’s Maine Grill, both in Kittery, and Mabel’s Lobster Claw in Kennebunkport. The menu features baked lobster, local oysters and fried seafood, but also includes steak and pasta.

Chefs Dylan Harrigan and Kelli Thompson, who both have worked at Robert’s Maine Grill, will be in the kitchen. The 160-seat restaurant will have two floors for dining, a bar, a stone fireplace and outdoor seating.

The Maine Catch, a new seafood restaurant in Ogunquit, is scheduled to open the first week of May. Photo by Brayden Rudert

Wrapped treasure

Sales of these Bao Bao-themed shoes will benefit the Portland restaurant during the pandemic. Photo courtesy of Vans

Vans, the shoe manufacturer known for its young fans of sports, art, music and street culture, is selling a shoe dedicated to Bao Bao Dumpling House in Portland.

The classic slip-on costs $90 and is part of a series dedicated to helping the country’s struggling small businesses through a program that Vans calls “Foot the Bill.” All net proceeds from the limited edition shoe, designed by Westbrook-based Wing Club Press in conjunction with Bao Bao chef/owner Cara Stadler, will go to Stadler’s restaurant to help it through the pandemic.

This T-shirt features an image of Hanuman that appears in a mural at Bao Bao Dumpling House in Portland. Photo courtesy of Vans

The Bao Bao shoe is covered in a pattern of red-and-white squares stamped with Chinese characters that translate to “wrapped treasure.” In a video posted on the Vans website, Stadler explains that all Chinese businesses have their own signature red stamps. “Bao” is written on the shoe’s heel.

Also for sale are $30 T-shirts featuring the image of Hanuman spearing a dumpling. The divine monkey is a central character in the Sanskrit epic Ramayana. The T-shirt is based on an image painted by New York artist Lydia Roberts in a mural on the restaurant’s wall. One difference between the two? On the T-shirt, Hanuman is wearing a pair of Vans.

Dance the night away

Mark Ohlson, who closed his wine bar at One City Center in Portland in spring 2020 because of the pandemic and then never reopened, promised Portlanders last month he had something else in mind for the city. Now he’s given me new details about Citrus, the cocktail bar and dance club that he hopes to open in the former MJ’s space for Memorial Day weekend.

“We will focus on frozen blender drinks, fresh-squeezed citrus drinks and full-portioned beers and wines,” Ohlson said in an email. “DJs and dancing will be the focus come sundown, and we will be bringing different variations of danceable house music.”

Expect techno/house music on Thursdays, and disco/funk on Fridays, with Boston-based DJ’s in the house. On Saturday, Ohlson said, look for “a combination of modern pop-influenced dance music and old school house beats.”

Citrus will have a limited food menu, he said – two salads and four “meal-like, fancy, open-faced sandwiches.”

The former wine bar is undergoing a thorough remodel. When the nightclub opens, it will have a brand new patio, new bathrooms, a fountain, new entrance doors, and top-of-the-line audio and visual equipment, Ohlson said.

The vibe, as repeated by Ohlson like a mantra? Bright, fresh, fun.

Spring break and reopenings

Red’s Eats, one of Maine’s best known places to grab a lobster roll – especially if you’re a tourist – announced this week that when it opens for its 83rd season on Monday it won’t have its signature lobster rolls. Why? The lobster shack has been unable to buy enough fresh lobster meat, owner Deb Gagnon explained on social media. “Harvest is not good right now,” she wrote. “Even those ‘fishing outside’ or many miles out, are only catching a few.” Gagnon noted that the rest of the menu will be available Monday, including clams, haddock, scallops, burgers and Red’s Eats famous onion rings. She anticipates lobster rolls will be back by May 15.

Tiqa, the Mediterranean restaurant at 327 Commercial St. in Portland, closed Sunday for a three-week break that will last through April 29. The break will allow staff a rest before reopening for summer, as well as time to prepare for the upcoming season, according to a Facebook post. The restaurant is also developing all new menus for summer.

Union, the restaurant at The Press Hotel in Portland, has reopened for breakfast. Hours are 8-11 a.m. Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. for Saturday and Sunday brunch.

The outdoor tasting area at Allagash Brewing Co. will reopen May 1.

Changing hands

Zach Crosby, left, and Donovan Fraser, the new owners of Caffe Prego in Ogunquit. Photo courtesy of Caffe Prego

Caffé Prego at 44 Shore Road in Ogunquit is changing hands, but customers shouldn’t see much difference in the Italian restaurant because new owners Donovan Fraser and Zach Crosby have run the kitchen since 2010. The chefs also helped create the menu when the restaurant opened in 2006.

Fraser and Crosby bought Caffé Prego from Donato Tramuto and Jeff Porter, who also own Five-O in Ogunquit. Fraser and Crosby are best friends as well as longtime colleagues, and said in a statement that buying a restaurant together is “a dream come true.”

Fraser, who came to the United States from Jamaica in 2004 and became a U.S. citizen in 2011, said that he and Crosby “pledge to continue the tradition of providing guests with a welcoming place, where families can sit inside or outdoors along the beautiful patio garden while enjoying authentic Italian cuisine prepared by Zach and me.”

Caffé Prego will reopen under the new management during the week of May 7. The chefs said they plan to expand the restaurant’s outdoor dining area, and may extend the restaurant’s summer season by a few weeks.

Buford dishes ‘Dirt’ in Portsmouth

Chef Evan Mallet, owner of Black Trumpet in Portsmouth, will have an online discussion with writer and James Beard Award winner Bill Buford at 7 p.m. on April 28. The event is one of a series of livestreamed presentations hosted by The Music Hall in Portsmouth.

Bill Buford

Buford will talk about his memoir, “Dirt: Adventures in Lyon as a Chef in Training, Father, and Sleuth Looking for the Secret of French Cooking (Knopf, $28.95), which has just come out in paperback.

Tickets cost $5 and include access to the livestream, a virtual author presentation, and an audience Q & A. Order tickets and copies of “Dirt” online at TheMusicHall.org, or call the box office at 603-436-2400.

Buford also wrote “Heat,” an acclaimed 2006 account of working for free at Babbo in New York, which at the time was owned by chef Mario Batali, and in Italy.

Frog legs and periwinkles

Looking to celebrate Earth Day in high style? On April 22, from 5-9 p.m., Earth at Hidden Pond in Kennebunkport will serve foods foraged from the local woods, beach and ocean waters. The menu includes crispy frog legs with periwinkles, sweet garlic cream and greens; steamed redfish with monkfish liver and pine needle emulsion, dashi meringue and morel mushrooms; Cape Porpoise lobster with fiddlehead ferns, whey, spring garlic and pickled ramps; North Star Farm lamb with Maine Grains rye, stinging nettles, and hen of the woods mushrooms; and, for dessert, rose hips preserves with ice cream from Smiling Hill Dairy.


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