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Have a bite while you get your bike repaired, shop for furniture or see a show

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Have a chunk when you get your bike repaired, store for furnishings or see a present

It’s possible you’ll be used to going buying and being provided a cup of not-so-fresh espresso when you browse.

However what when you may munch on freshly popped popcorn whereas looking for a brand new hedge trimmer on the ironmongery store – then choose up an artisan loaf of bread in your approach out the door?

Skip breakfast? No worries, the proprietor of an area bike store will make you a breakfast sandwich and pour you a cup of Honest Commerce natural espresso to go along with it when you wait on your journey to be repaired. Seize a purple snapper when you’re attempting to determine on that new eating room desk, or choose up a six-pack together with a surfboard earlier than you head to the seaside. Out for an evening on the theater? Spend intermission devouring a slice of still-warm do-it-yourself blueberry pie, topped with hand-crafted ice cream, then choose up some bison steaks or Mangalitsa pork on the on-site farm stand.

These are just some examples of Maine companies that aren’t eating places or delis or markets, however promote greater than bikes, surfboards, espresso tables, scorching water heaters and theater tickets. They’re surprising locations to search out one thing scrumptious to eat or drink.

Most locations admit that sure, this generally is a good advertising and marketing transfer that brings extra folks into their companies, and brings in additional repeat enterprise, particularly in a food-loving city like Portland. However it’s additionally greater than that – it’s a method to join with prospects by providing them an expertise, and, in some instances, tapping into “hanging out” tradition.

From the surface, 93 Predominant Electrical Bike Cafe doesn’t appear like the type of place that may promote a superb cup of espresso or a breakfast sandwich. Employees photograph by Shawn Patrick Ouellette

When Thaddeus St. John, the proprietor of the 93 Predominant Electrical Bike Cafe in South Portland, and his enterprise companion, Doug Watts, had been first fascinated by opening a retail store, they talked about how a lot they prefer to have a cup of espresso within the mornings earlier than going for a journey or whereas watching their bikes being repaired. So that they determined to place a few couches and a espresso desk into their solar-powered retail area, and promote espresso, bagels and breakfast sandwiches in addition to electrical bikes. They also have a takeout window. “We regarded it up, and there are these bike cafes around the globe,” St. John mentioned. Individuals congregate at these cafes, he mentioned, to hang around and discuss their favourite pastime – using bikes.

The South Portland bike cafe has solely been open for a couple of weeks, however it’s already received an award for finest iced espresso from the web site Portland Outdated Port. The store, which is licensed as a business kitchen, serves Honest Commerce natural espresso from Harpswell-based Moses Dyer Espresso Roasters. Its bagels come from Bread + Butter Catering Co. in South Portland. St. John grills the breakfast sandwiches himself.

The cafe’s tagline? “Sizzling bikes, quick espresso.”


Surfers looking for a brand new surfboard may purchase Speckled Ax espresso and beer from Austin Road Brewery on the Maine Surfers Union in Portland. The Free Road retailer constructed a espresso bar through the pandemic, and this month will begin promoting bagels from Rose Meals. Photograph courtesy of Maine Surfers Union


Change out the bikes for surfboards, and you’ve got the Maine Surfers Union, a surf store on Free Road in Portland. When the store needed to shut quickly through the pandemic, the house owners determined so as to add a espresso bar. They partnered with Speckled Ax, which made them their very own signature espresso, referred to as Daybreak Patrol.

“Daybreak Patrol is a nod to getting up tremendous early to log on,” mentioned Charlie Fox, who owns the store along with his spouse, Kristina Grimaldi. “At the moment, plenty of surfers could have a cup of espresso to assist them get up and get going.”

Nitro chilly brew espresso is offered, in addition to nitro chilly brew yerba mate. “Generally yerba can have a bitter chunk to it,” Fox mentioned, “however placing nitro into it truly smooths it out and offers it a smoother, buttery style.”

The espresso bar has three stools on the counter the place prospects can get pleasure from a cup whereas they watch surf films on a close-by tv. Or they will sit at certainly one of three picnic tables exterior. Fox not too long ago added bagels from Rose Meals to the menu. “We’d add some extra meals down the street,” he mentioned. “We’re simply type of having enjoyable with it proper now.”

Fox has additionally partnered with Austin Road Brewery and sells a number of of its beers in single cans or six-packs – one other nod to surfer tradition. Within the spring, the brewery launched a collaboration pale ale referred to as Free Friction, which refers to browsing with a finless board – “an historic Polynesian approach of browsing,” Fox defined. The beer was so widespread it was rereleased a few month in the past, Fox mentioned, and a 3rd launch is deliberate for September.

Daybreak Patrol espresso, a signature brew made by Speckled Ax, sits on a surfboard in entrance of the espresso bar at Maine Surfers Union in Portland. Photograph courtesy of Maine Surfers Union

Fox’s prospects like to hang around in addition to hold ten. They arrive into the store each earlier than and after browsing, which is what makes espresso and beer the proper drinks to promote – though they will’t but drink beer on web site. Fox is engaged on getting a tasting room license so that individuals will have the ability to drink beer on the picnic tables subsequent summer time.

Each Fox and St. John have shocked prospects, in addition to metropolis and state officers with their enterprise fashions.

“It’s not your typical enterprise,” Fox mentioned. “I do know working with the state of Maine, they had been a little bit confused at first that we had been a retail clothes retailer promoting surfboards and attempting to promote espresso and beer on the similar time. It’s one thing that hasn’t actually been achieved right here but. It’s positively been achieved in different states. New York Metropolis and California have outlets which have a espresso bar inside them.”

St. John additionally plans so as to add a tasting room in his bike store in some unspecified time in the future, so he can promote cocktails made with the vermouth he produces at his vineyard behind the constructing, referred to as Lincoln & Predominant. He needs folks to go for a motorcycle journey, then cease in for a vermouth spritzer and speak store. And he has plans to broaden his menu to incorporate extra sandwiches and charcuterie boards. (“Even my mother has mentioned, ‘You want a fidget spinner,’” he joked.)

The entire 28-year-old’s obsessions will then be on the market below one roof. However is it three completely different companies, or one enterprise promoting three various things? St. John mentioned he’s at the moment awaiting a particular exemption license from town of South Portland as a result of “whenever you apply for a bike-coffee-winery tasting room, the planning board members type of have a look at you want you have got three heads.”


The concession stand at Jordan’s Furnishings retailer within the Maine Mall. Photograph courtesy of Jordan’s Furnishings

A typical thread amongst these uncommon meals oases is that they supply a memorable expertise that goes past simply pulling out a bank card. Jordan’s Furnishings in South Portland comes proper out and says it with the motto that it’s “not only a retailer, it’s an expertise!” Households store for furnishings earlier than or after attempting out the shop’s ropes course, which comes full with zip strains and a concession stand that sells scorching canine, popcorn and ice cream. It seems like a concession you’d discover in a movie show.

“We offer leisure together with furnishings buying to boost your entire retailer go to for all prospects,” mentioned Heather Copelas, a spokeswoman for the shop.

Maine {Hardware} in Portland has given out free popcorn for 23 years, and it’s turn into a lot part of the buying expertise there that prospects begged for it to return again after retailer supervisor Tim Currier suspended the perk through the early phases of the pandemic. Clients – and particularly their kids – had been so disenchanted when the popcorn disappeared that Currier eliminated the popper from the gross sales ground as a result of the empty machine “was simply crushing the youngsters’ hearts.”

“I didn’t notice what it meant to everyone as a result of truthfully, I might have been tremendous not bringing it again,” he mentioned. “I’ve been smelling it since 1998.”

Now the popcorn has returned, and the workers is again to creating a number of batches within the morning, and one other a number of batches within the afternoon. “It feels prefer it’s a part of Maine {Hardware}, and now we have to maintain it at this level,” Currier mentioned.

This yr, Currier launched one other meals merchandise, though this one isn’t free. The shop now sells Primarily Grains bread, together with Portuguese and Italian loaves, and English muffin bread. The proprietor of the bakery is a buyer, Currier mentioned, and the concept got here to him someday after they had been chatting. Now the ironmongery store will get bread deliveries three or 4 instances every week, and it’s offered a number of hundred loaves since March, Currier mentioned.

Gayle Guptill crafts artisan Azul Goodies within the Hackmatack farmhouse and sells them throughout exhibits on the Hackmatack Playhouse concession and within the new farm stand. Photograph courtesy of Michael Guptill


Exit for an evening on the theater, and also you’re largely prone to discover cookies, sweet and different snack meals on the concession throughout intermission. Hackmatack Playhouse in Berwick, based on Hackmatack Farm 50 years in the past, has all the time achieved issues a little bit in a different way.

“We used to go choose corn and serve corn on the cob,” mentioned Michael Guptill, whose household has lived on the farm for the reason that 1600s.

The farm now not grows corn, however the summer time theater’s concession stand usually begins the season with do-it-yourself strawberry shortcake, then switches to do-it-yourself blueberry pie throughout blueberry season. The pie, made by Guptill’s spouse, Gayle, is typically nonetheless heat from the oven. The treats are topped with artisan ice cream made by their daughter, Lauren, proprietor of Rococo Ice Cream in Kennebunkport.

“My son began elevating bison right here 10 years in the past,” Guptill mentioned, “and for some time throughout intermission, he was serving bison burgers and bison kebabs.”

This handmade chocolate bison is likely one of the treats that’s generally on the market throughout intermission on the Hackmatack Playhouse in Berwick. The barn theater is positioned on a bison farm. Photograph courtesy of Michael Guptill

Gayle Guptill additionally has an artisan chocolate enterprise referred to as Azul Goodies, and she or he sells the sweet to theatergoers. Generally it’s in animal shapes, so it’s possible you’ll get a chocolate bison. And if you would like frozen bison meat to take residence, the household will accommodate you.

The playhouse went darkish final yr due to the pandemic, and its shortened season this yr started Aug. 6 (with “The Spitfire Grill”) and runs by Aug. 28. Michael Guptill mentioned the household enterprise used a few of its Paycheck Safety Program (PPP) cash from the pandemic to construct a farm stand, which he mentioned will most likely be open on at the least some present days this yr. The farm stand sells bison meat, Mangalitsa pork, hen, eggs – all types of native farm merchandise.

“When folks come right here they by no means fairly know what they’re going to get for intermission,” Guptill mentioned. “It’s a little bit quirky, and we attempt to maintain it very homey, very pleasant.”

Now that seems like an expertise.

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