Pigeons, the new project from Peter and Orenda Hale, has started taking reservations at pigeonsmaine.com for its May 12 opening. The restaurant is located in the former home of Drifters Wife, 59 Washington Ave. in Portland.

Pigeons will be open from noon to 6 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays, with a daily happy hour from 4 to 6 p.m. The all-day menu includes crudité, French onion soup, a burger, niçoise salad, mussels and bavette steak. For dessert? Salt honey ice cream (with the option to “make it boozy”) and canelé.

Why is it called Pigeons? Two reasons: First, it’s a personal nod to an album called Pigeons recorded by Peter Hale’s former band. But also, Orenda Hale explained, the way pigeons hang together, and yet apart, “is very much the same thing that we love (and miss) about restaurants and bars.”

“Pigeons can be around other pigeons and seem like a group but maintain their own identities,” she said. “We felt like it was the perfect name to embody a community space where you can just as easily hang alone at the bar for a leisurely lunch or meet a group of friends for happy hour.”

WAYSIDE COMING OUR WAY

Michael and Siobhan Sindoni, owners of the Roll Call food truck, plan to open Wayside in The Francis Hotel, 747 Congress St., the former home of Flood’s, which closed during the pandemic. The restaurant, which will have outdoor seating as well, will operate from 4 to 10 p.m. and serve contemporary American cuisine, according to the restaurant license application the Sindonis filed with the city. A sample menu filed with the application includes dishes such as braised rabbit with polenta and foraged mushrooms, and roasted monkfish with corn and pepper succotash.

The target opening date is June 1.

ANOTHER DOOR OPENS

Bettina Doulton, owner of the Lincolnville-based Cellardoor Winery, has leased space at 127 Middle St. in Portland, the former home of the Rough & Tumble store, for a new tasting room and retail space. Cellardoor had a large, beautiful tasting room at Thompson’s Point from 2016 to 2020, which it closed because of the pandemic. Doulton told me she plans to open the new space with very limited capacity in June, then open fully in late July.

FRONT ROOM REOPENING

The Front Room, 73 Congress St., has closed for takeout in preparation for reopening the sit-down restaurant at 8 a.m. May 6. According to social media for the Rooms restaurants, the Corner Room will be next, followed by the Grill Room, but no dates have been set for those openings.

BYE BYE BURGERS AND WINGS

XO Burgers & Wings, the ghost restaurant that popped up in Portland in early December, served its last takeout container of pandemic casual food on Sunday. The temporary business, which operated out of the kitchen at Hugo’s, posted on Instagram that for fans of XO food, all is not lost: Eventide Oyster Co. sells a cheeseburger that uses the same 5-ounce, dry-aged beef patty and housemade buns, and Big Tree Grocery plans to add the wings and gourmet sauce to its menu so customers can make the wings at home. What does this news mean for Hugo’s, which has been closed since the pandemic began? Kristin Rocha, spokesperson for Big Tree Hospitality, says they are “still working on a plan for the future of Hugo’s” and will share details when they become available.

OCEANSIDE DINING AT OCEAN

Mom will enjoy the view at Ocean Restaurant in Kennebunkport. Photo courtesy of Ocean

Ocean, the restaurant at 208 Ocean Ave. in Kennebunkport in the Cape Arundel Inn & Resort, will open for the season on Friday. Initial dinner hours will be 5 to 9 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays, but the restaurant will switch to a seven-day schedule on May 31. The spring menu features three courses for $85, with wine pairings available for an additional $65 per person. Ocean will also serve a special Mother’s Day dinner from noon to 5 p.m. May 9, offering grilled filet; pan-seared halibut with butter-poached lobster, sunchokes, spring vegetables and lobster coral emulsion; Rohan duck breast with confit duck leg, broccolini and foie gras sauce; and gnocchi with asparagus, mushrooms, peas, fiddleheads and roasted tomatoes. (Read on for more Mother’s Day options.)

HELP IS ON THE HORIZON

Restaurateurs, take note: Registration for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund begins at 9 a.m. Friday, and the U.S. Small Business Administration will begin taking applications for the pandemic relief funds at noon Monday.

The Restaurant Revitalization Fund provides $28.6 billion in direct relief to restaurants that have experienced significant losses during the pandemic. The federal fund will cover losses up to $10 million per business, and no more than $5 million per location. Businesses owned by women, veterans and individuals who are socially and economically disadvantaged will get priority for the first 21 days of the program. After that, it will be first come, first served.

To register, go to restaurants.sba.gov.

HERE’S A TIP

Last Friday, dozens of Maine restaurant workers got a big surprise when Daryle Degen walked in the door and handed them big tips – really big tips.

Degen is the founder and CEO of Maine Cater, a recruitment company for the hospitality industry. In January, Maine Cater launched a “giving back fund” that helps struggling restaurants and restaurant workers by using the net profits from its job board to buy gift cards from restaurants or to tip employees. When restaurateurs pay Maine Cater to post a job, they designate where they want their money to go – to the restaurant fund or the worker fund. When the worker fund sufficiently fills up, Degen randomly selects restaurants and workers that have been suggested as recipients on social media and delivers the cash himself.

“This time around, the fund got up to $3,000,” Degen said. “We decided to put in $3,000 of our own money into it just to kind of bulk it up a little bit more.”

It was the largest giveaway Degen has done so far. Workers who received $500 tips include employees of Hot Suppa in Portland; Run of the Mill in Saco; Bucks Naked BBQ in Portland; and King Eider’s Pub in Damariscotta. Workers at Dockside Restaurant in Belfast received $1,000, and the back-of-house employees at Cook’s Lobster & Ale House in Bailey’s Island were given $3,000.

Jennifer Charbonneau, owner of Cook’s, called the surprise visit “an uplifting moment.” She said the restaurant has four kitchen staff, but she decided to include the employee who runs the restaurant’s food truck in the “well deserved” financial windfall, so the tip was split five ways. “He is very much a part of our team, works incredibly hard,” she said, “and since we have to close our food truck due to lack of staff, he is moving back here to work in the kitchen with the other four guys.”

The Business Time breakfast sandwich from The Pink Waffle. Photo courtesy of Roux Kehoe

INVASION OF THE PINK WAFFLES

The Pink Waffle food truck will launch in the Greater Portland area this weekend, and it will be serving – you guessed it – a pink waffle. What’s that? It’s a strawberry shortcake waffle made to be eaten on the go, says Roux Kehoe, owner of the new business.

Kehoe, who says he loves the color pink, has worked as a chef, kitchen manager and caterer for 16 years, in Maine and in Colorado. He had been considering opening a brick-and-mortar restaurant when the pandemic hit and shifted those plans. This week, he was still developing his menus and “planning my waffle takeover.”

Kehoe will serve both sweet and savory waffles, from a traditional American waffle plate (butter, syrup) to Belgian snacks such as stroopwafel and that strawberry shortcake waffle. He’ll have waffle breakfast sandwiches – think egg, bacon and cheese between two waffles – and dinner items as well, for when he’s parked at a brewery. (Yes, chicken and waffles will make an appearance at some point.) Prices will range from $9 to $13.

The Pink Waffle will be at Crisp, a fitness center in Scarborough, on Saturday and Sunday morning from 8 to 11 a.m. On Sunday afternoon, from noon to about 3 p.m., find it at Belleflower Brewing in Portland. Check its Instagram page (@thepinkwaffleme) for a regular schedule going forward. Kehoe, who lives in Durham, said he plans to park in Portland the first month, but will eventually visit Brunswick and the Lewiston-Auburn area as well.

Read more about this year’s roster of new food trucks in this week’s Maine Sunday Telegram. I’ve put together a guide to where they’ll be parked and what they’ll be serving – everything from grilled cheese to fish and chips – when they open this summer.

A BOTTLE OF WHITE, A BOTTLE OF RED. PERHAPS A BOTTLE OF BLUE INSTEAD?

Apologies to Billy Joel, but forget the rosé. We are looking forward to trying the first wine made by RAS Wines – Arkadia, a dry sparkling blueberry wine. Each bottle contains 2½ pounds of organic wild Maine blueberries, fermented with their own natural yeasts. RAS Wines is located at 59 Rainmaker Drive in Portland. Order a six-pack directly from the winery for pick-up or delivery, or visit one of the retailers listed on the RAS website, raswines.com. The six-pack costs $150; retail prices for a single bottle will vary, but should be in the range of $23-25, according to winemaker Joe Appel, former Press Herald wine columnist.

OTTO GOES RETAIL

Otto is now selling three varieties of frozen pizza in Whole Foods: cheese; butternut squash, ricotta and cranberry; and mushroom and roasted cauliflower. The pizzas are available in Whole Foods stores in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Greater Hartford, Conn. The company is also selling its pizza dough in the stores, if you’d rather make your own.

MORE FOR MOM

The White Barn Inn Restaurant in Kennebunk will offer a three-course Mother’s Day brunch that includes choices such as smoked duck breast, steak and eggs, and a Benedict-style lobster roll. Brunch costs $65, not including tax or gratuity. For dessert, choices include crème brûlée with spring berries and a molten brownie with caramel ice cream.

The Westin Portland Harborview, 157 High St., is offering Mother’s Day picnics made with seasonal vegetables and local ingredients. The baskets are filled with roasted garlic and red pepper hummus; Pineland Farms cheddar and grapes; tortellini pasta salad; asparagus salad; a ham and brie baguette; sliced watermelon; and mini whoopie pies and cookies. The picnics cost $55 for two and can be ordered through 2 p.m. May 5. Pick-up is on May 7.


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.