ROCKLAND - Our third "Welcome Back, snowbats" installment is here and if you need to know what a snowbat is, get primed through our first "what's new" two articles on Belfast and Camden-Rockport. It's always nice to come back to Rockland after a winter away and see what's open, what's closed, what's new and what's happening. So, here is your rundown for the summer.
Won't you take me to... Foodie Town
Rockland's solid lead on the Creative Economy has lured many a restaurateur to the area, but this winter, two new stylish restaurants landed on Main Street, solidifying Rockland's burgeoning reputation as a foodie town. Watch out, Portland.
First FOG Bar and Cafe opened right after the Frankenstorm of last October, a hip joint catering to the young, artistic crowd, run by partners Ashley Seelig and Josh Cardoso, along with Seelig's parents, Sherrie Gibson and Warren Seelig. They moved into the former Rock City Cafe space, and over the winter, transformed it into a funky gourmet atmosphere with “French and Southern-inspired contemporary comfort food.” With a new happy hour menu, the bar does brisk business, offering a variety of craft beers (from Maine as well as imports) and some of the best spirits Seelig and Cardoso have found on their own culinary journeys. Check out Pen Bay Pilot's article on it here.
In the spring, 3Crow Restaurant and Bar opened, anchoring the food scene on the opposite end of Main Street. Executive Chef and Owner Josh Hixson spun a completely different menu from his 40 Paper restaurant in Camden to offer “modern American food with a heavy Southern influence,” based in part on Hixson’s own experiences growing up the South. 3Crow also offers a craft beer and cocktail selection as well as a small plates menu that appeals to the younger generation. Check out Pen Bay Pilot's article on it here.
Home Kitchen Cafe (650 Main Street) might look a little different to those coming back. That's because its owners completed a renovation that started last fall when they closed the restaurant for the winter to open up more space in the dining room, as well as a new roof deck that catches a glimpse of the ocean. Husband and wife James Hatch and Susan Schiro are back in business and ready for the summer. Known locally for one of the best breakfast/lunch spots in Rockland, Home Kitchen Cafe should be on the "list" of places to check out this summer.
The Chowder House is another new restaurant that just opened last week at 2 Park Drive, featuring award winning chowders, classic local lobster rolls, and steamed seafood dinners.
In other Main Street news, Rock City Cafe, which now only offers breakfast and lunch, has announced it will add a new evening menu on the nights it is open for the Velvet Lounge music performances (typically Friday and Saturday night).
On yet another foodie note, those who have Primo on their destination dinner spot might like to know that in May, Chef Melissa Kelly won the prestigious James Beard Foundation award (otherwise known as "the Oscars of the food world") for Best Chef in the Northeast. Kelly flew down to New York City to accept her award and attend a party at celebrity chef Mario Batali's restaurant, Del Posto, before flying back to Maine to get right back to work.
Lastly, two local favorite restaurants have reopened under new ownership. Over the winter, The Landings Restaurant on Rockland harbor opened under Mike and Kate Miller and their family. The Millers formerly operated Grapes Restaurant before it was destroyed in a 2004 fire and continue to run Bricks Restaurant near the harbor. The seafood menu will stay much the same and people are excited to have that back deck on the water open once again. Down the road apiece in Port Clyde, locals and tourists alike were thrilled to hear that The Harpoon, now renamed The Black Harpoon, has reopened under new owners, locals, Chris Chadwick, a scallop fisherman, and his mother, Cindy Chadwick. Longtime local chef Barbara Mann is cooking for them and the place still retains its authentic, cozy fishermen's decor. Always worth the drive. Check out Pen Bay Pilot's article on it here.
New businesses and other stuff you might have missed
For those on the move, Scooter Dogs is a new scooter rental and tour/sightseeing business that opened in Rockland Harbor Park. If you prefer to pedal on your own power, Side Country Sports has expanded their space and as always, offers affordable bike rentals as a way to see downtown Rockland and Owls Head. They now offer a public riding club at 5:15 p.m. on Wednesday nights. They ride is about an hour and a half as a group. This is a NO-drop ride, which means you will not get left behind or "dropped." This is a great opportunity to learn about riding in a group and proper rules of the road. Call
Whoo! Break out the wine glasses. Breakwater Vineyards, out of Owls Head has a new tasting room in downtown Rockland on 373 Main Street, right across from Island Institute. It opened a week ago and will be open seven days a week, noon to 6 p.m. It entails $3 for four pours, allowing for a full glass of tastings, includes reds and whites. FMI: check it out their Facebook page.
And if it's sweets you're craving, Bixby & Co., an organic chocolate shop from Warwick, N.Y., is moving to Rockland, setting up shop at 279 Main St., at the intersection with Park Drive.
If we've missed any new businesses that would be interesting to folks coming back to Maine, shoot us an email with the subject line"Add to Rockland story" and we'll add it into the list! Kay Stephens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org