ROCKLAND — Jenn Rockwell, along with her father Rick Rockwell, of Rockland Realty, are on a mission. Their current goal? To bring increased vibrancy and visibility to the north end of Rockland Main Street.
Scheduled to open November 1, Ada's Kitchen is the latest undertaking of the duo, who are also the owners of Main Street Markets, which opened its doors in 2015.
Seated inside the evolving but comfortably elegant space at 449 Main Street, the space that will house the new restaurant, Jenn Rockwell said that her family is "super passionate about Rockland." She described her father, who owns the building, as intent on preserving the historic character of Rockland while bringing vibrant new businesses and opportunities to the city.
Ada's Kitchen will be in keeping with that philosophy, she said.
"We are so lucky to have the ability to make awesome changes in Rockland,” Rockwell said. “We want to continue to create opportunities for young and excited people who really want to live here.”
Ada's will offer fresh pasta, pizza, specialty sandwiches and more in a space that marries mid-century modern with rustic touches, in keeping with the Rockwells' penchant for salvaging and repurposing historic objects and buildings. The menu will aim for a mid-range price point, Rockwell said.
"There will be two completely different dining experiences available," she explained.
Upstairs, the team is putting the finishing touches on a sleek yet inviting bar, lounge and dining room.
Downstairs, a remodeled dining space invites diners to enter through a ground-floor entrance, complete with a newly bricked sidewalk patio, where Rockwell says there will be tables seasonally.
While the entire menu will be offered downstairs (including libations) it will be a casual, family-friendly space fully equipped to provide takeout.
Rockwell added that she plans to offer takeout from Ada's immediately when the establishment opens.
Additionally, a recently opened bridge creates walkability from the Maine State Ferry Terminal to the back side of the restaurant, making for a convenient stop for those traveling to and from the islands of North Haven and Vinalhaven.
"We will offer simple food with simple, good ingredients," she explained.
The Rockwells have recruited head chef Siddharta Rumma, whom Rick Rockwell met through a mutual friend, to manage their kitchen operations.
Born in Rome, Rumma has graced the kitchens of restaurants in Portland and Boston, including The Corner Room Italian Kitchen and Bar in Portland, one of Harding Lee Smith's well-known "Room" restaurants.
Since Main Street Markets is just a few doors down, a joint "kitchen and commissary" space has been created for Ada's and the market. In that space, fresh breads and pastas for the restaurant will be handmade from scratch. Ada's will be furnished with goods made there, and a selection of these fresh products will be available at Main Street Markets.
"Sid is so talented," Rockwell said of Rumma. "We have an incredible team."
Stacey Campbell, a longtime local cocktail maven, will head up the operations of the bar.
Rockwell said that cocktail development is well underway, and that a variety of beverages will focus on Italian classics and signature drinks developed by Campbell and the Ada's team.
An expansive selection of Italian wines will be available, and one of the numerous taps will be reserved for prosecco. Rockwell added that the restaurant will offer an extensive and rotating selection of craft beers, as well as some approachable standbys.
Initially, Ada's will offer dinner, takeout, and a happy hour every day that the restaurant is open. Rockwell said they hope to be open daily, however hours have not yet been finalized.
"We want to do it all," she said enthusiastically, "it just depends on the tools and the people."
Happy hour will take place from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. weeknights. A specialty menu will be available along with with $5 cocktail/ pizza slice combinations. Rockwell said she envisions Ada's as a community hangout for all.
"We want to be really approachable,” she said. “We want to be a place where anyone is comfortable just popping in for a drink and to hang out. Rockland has so many businesses, galleries, artists, and residents; we want this to be a place where the entire community can gather.”
Rockwell explained that there has been tremendous support from neighboring businesses already.
"They are excited, everyone wants to encourage more commerce," she explained.
In keeping with the sculptural signage on the opposite end of Main Street, Ada's will boast a sculpture that reads "EAST" affixed to the outside of the building. Local artist Andy White has been commissioned to create the sculpture, which Rockwell said is well underway.
"I have had a lot of fun working with [White]," she said, adding that she thinks of the piece he is creating as an "homage to Rockland" and its burgeoning reputation as a creative and exciting community. She also noted that the piece will complement other visual and artistic elements in Rockland, including similar pieces displayed by other Main Street businesses, as well as the famous Robert Indiana “EAT” sculpture at the opposite end of town, which is installed seasonally atop The Farnsworth.
As the Rockwell family continues their work to restore and preserve the historic character of Rockland, Jenn Rockwell said additional projects will be announced.
"We are really looking forward to continuing to bring back historic character and vibrancy to Main Street," she said.
There is ample public parking in the lot behind Ada's Kitchen in the Thorndike parking lot, providing access to the lower level entrance of the restaurant.
The Grand Opening of Ada’s will take place at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 1 following a VIP/press event.
The ribbon cutting ceremony will take place on Friday, November 3 at 4 p.m., followed by an all-night Very Happy Happy Hour celebration with discounts and giveaways. If you have questions about Ada's or would like further information, please see the Ada's Kitchen Facebook page, or contact Jennifer Rockwell by email at email@example.com, or by phone at (201) 970-5333.
Jenna Lookner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org