Crooked Face Creamery won “Bronze” at the World Cheese Awards 2023 in late October in Norway. From left are Erika Noone, assistant manager; Amy Rowbottom, owner and cheesemaker; and Elizabeth Hoffman, affineur and sales. Mary Haley photo/MXH Marketing

Crooked Face Creamery’s lemon-fennel ricotta cheese has taken home a bronze at the 2023 World Cheese Awards. The creamery’s herb-pressed cheese, made from cows’ milk, competed against more than 4,500 entries from around the world. The awards were held in Norway in late October.

“We are a small batch creamery in a small town in Maine,” Crooked Face Creamery wrote on Instagram. “To be on the podium on the World stage, feels bigger than we could possibly imagine. Even though we weren’t in Norway for the award ceremony, we are celebrating here today!!!”


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The 14-year-old artisan creamery operates out of the repurposed Skowhegan County Jail that also houses the Maine Grains’ Miller’s Table cafe and its grist mill. It’s owned by cheesemaker Amy Rowbottom, who grew up on a dairy farm in Norridgewock. Crooked Face sells its cheeses at farmers markets, specialty shops and restaurants all over the state.


Baba’s Cafe on Peaks Island has come up with a novel idea to stay open this winter. From November to April, it is transforming itself into a cooperative co-working space, according to a post on Instagram. (It isn’t working out for WeWork, but we think small, local Baba’s sounds more congenial and less high finance.)

The little cafe, up the hill, then a short walk to the left from the ferry, at 79 Island Ave., serves cakes, pies, scones, cookies, sandwiches, coffee and drinks in the warmer months, including the summer season. During the offseason this year, it will use the premises to give islanders a shared place to work. It plans to be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. for a fee of $90 per month. The cafe will provide free tea, coffee and Wi-Fi to those who sign up – find a link to do so on Instagram. No one at the cafe could be reached Tuesday for more details.



A planned shared commercial kitchen in Skowhegan got a $99,000 boost with a rural business development grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture this month. The grant was awarded to nonprofit Main Street Skowhegan, which will use the money toward the planned Kitchen at 185, located downtown at 185 Water St.

The Kitchen at 185 is meant to provide food-based businesses access to an affordable commercial kitchen, where they can make products to sell. The project has also received grants from the Maine Technology Institute and T-Mobile, according to the Morning Sentinel, and still must raise some $700,000. A statement announcing the grant noted that The Kitchen organizers plan to use it in part for program and curriculum development.


You’ve still got a little time to catch a meal, and a good deal, at a nearby New Hampshire restaurant; Restaurant Week Portsmouth & The Seacoast continues this week through Saturday. Participating restaurants – among them, the well-regarded Black Trumpet Bistro, Cava Tapas & Wine Bar and Moxy – are offering three-course prix fixe meals. The meals cost $25 for lunch, $48 for dinner, not including tip or drinks. Reservations advised. For more information, click here.



Judy Gibson, the restaurant tucked in the Knightville neighborhood in South Portland, announced on Instagram Saturday that it would close permanently on Nov. 19.

Owner/chef Chris Wilcox plating pork at Judy Gibson restaurant in 2021. Wilcox said the restaurant will close permanently later this month. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Following its opening in March 2020, just two weeks before the coronavirus pandemic hit Maine, it was named Best New Restaurant in 2021 in the Press Herald and was among the newspaper’s Best 75 places to eat and drink this year.

Chef and owner Chris Wilcox wrote in an Instagram post that the restaurant would close. “I cannot begin to express the sadness I feel as I write this. The last four years of my life have been wholly dedicated to Judy Gibson. We opened on March 4th of 2020 and were forced to close ten days later because of the global pandemic,” the Instagram post said. “We lost 80% of our operating capital in those first four months. Once we were able to open again for outdoor dining we saw a strong surge in revenue and had a great summer to help keep us pushing through.”


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A post shared by Judy Gibson (@judygibson_me)

The post went on to say that while business had picked up this year, it was not enough to keep it going. Wilcox said in the post that he made the decision to close this month to ensure he could pay its staff and vendors in full, and would reimburse all gift cards with remaining balances.

“We did not receive any large federal financial assistance and have been riding the highs and lows of seasonality in Maine ever since. We’ve fried chicken and made corndogs to allow for Judy Gibson to continue as we always wanted to be,” the post continued. “This past summer was good, but not good enough to sustain us through the slower months of winter.”



Friars’ Brewhouse Tap Room, run by the Franciscans of Bucksport, closed permanently this week after one of its founders died.

The closure was announced in a post on the Friars’ Brewhouse Facebook page on Thursday. According to the post, one of the Franciscans filed a missing person report with the Bucksport police on Nov. 1. That afternoon, police informed the brothers at the friary that they found Brother Donald Paul Martel dead in his car, which was parked at the Jacob Buck Pond Boat Launch. Police said Martel had apparently died the day before. He was 66.

The Facebook post noted that the brothers had posted a “permanently closed” sign in the window of the tap room.

“We thank all of our patrons and friends who have supported our endeavors over the years,” the social media post said. “The stark reality is that … now that the taproom is closed our income has ended with it. We really could use your assistance. If anyone could commit to making a monthly contribution in any amount to help support Brother Kenneth and Brother Stephen it would be greatly appreciated.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, a GoFundMe page the friary set up for donations had raised almost $8,000 toward a $50,000 goal.

The friars first opened the tap room in 2018. According to the Bangor Daily News, Martel had grappled with health issues in the last few years, and underwent a quadruple bypass in 2019 that forced the tap room to close for three months.



Cherished Possessions Pub is slated to open in Allen’s Corner in Portland this month, according to an announcement on the website of the consignment store. Sam Eakin, owner of the longtime North Deering consignment shop, has partnered with Bayou Kitchen to open the pub and diner in a space adjacent to the store. “Check out our great new inventories with great food and fun!” the website suggested. Eakin could not be reached Tuesday for an update on the project.


A portion of all sales at Luke’s Lobster Portland on Tuesday will be donated to the Maine Community Foundation’s Lewiston Area Response Fund, to help those affected by the mass shooting, and to the St. George Community Development Organization’s Port Clyde Strong Fund to help businesses affected by the fire on the Port Clyde waterfront in September.

Food Writer Tim Cebula and Assistant Web Editor Amber Carter contributed to this column. 

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