A popular Portland sushi chef has teamed up with an East Bayside craft brewery to buy a Freeport building where they plan to open an izakaya-style Japanese restaurant and a brewery tasting room.

The owners of Mr. Tuna and GoodFire Brewing Co. recently closed on the building at 117 Route 1, the former home of El Jefe Taco Bar and Conundrum Wine Bistro. Conundrum closed in June 2019, and El Jefe never re-opened after closing for the winter in November.

“We’ll have a full-service bar and restaurant on the Conundrum side, but will also be the food for GoodFire” on the El Jefe side, said Jordan Rubin, owner of Mr. Tuna.

Rubin said he plans to offer the hand rolls and similar sushi options that he serves at the Public Market House in Portland, but he’ll also feature ramen,  yakitori and small plates. The restaurant will have a full bar with a cocktail program and extensive sake list, but will also serve “a lot of GoodFire beer,” he said.

Rubin said he has no plans to close his Public Market House location, which has greatly expanded since 2020, taking over space previously occupied by Maine Beer and Beverage and Maine Squeeze. Now his only neighbor is Big Sky Bread Co. “Our footprint is pretty much the whole first floor now,” he said.

The Public Market location will re-open for indoor seating Thursday, Rubin said.

He also plans to keep at least one of his mobile sushi bars open — the one that parks daily on the Eastern Prom in Portland.

The new Freeport restaurant will have seating for about 40 inside, mostly counter seating. A heated four-season patio behind the building will have at least 30 seats, and Rubin plans to build another patio out front. In all, the new Mr. Tuna should seat 80 to 100 customers in summer and 60 to 70 the rest of the year. Rubin said GoodFire will have its own outdoor courtyard.

Rubin hopes to open the new spot in early fall.

“I think it’s something that Freeport will embrace,” he said. “There are food options up there, but there’s not really any sushi or Japanese food for the most part. And even in the surrounding towns like Yarmouth and Cumberland and Falmouth, I think it will be a good option for people who don’t really want to travel to Portland.”

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