BDA’s bi-weekly feature with News & Updates on BDA member businesses.
April 28, 2021: A Community-focused concept: Merry Meeting Kitchen opens this week!
You may have visited Turtle Rock Farm at 39 Burbank Avenue in the past, especially when they hosted the Brunswick Landing Farmers Market on Fridays. A new collaboration has emerged-officially opening Wednesday, April 28, and is called the Merry Meeting Kitchen. It is a market, community kitchen, meeting space and more focusing on locally sourced food & other products.
Rental and Community Manager Amy Fagan described the renovated space as all the above, but mostly as a place for the community to come together. Amy along with Merry Meeting Kitchen Board Member Jennifer Legnini and Retail Manager Courtney Sonia greeted the staff of BDA as well as Sally Costello and Emily Ruger from the Town of Brunswick’s Economic Development department for a tour of the facility prior to opening on their first day.
The retail space is filled with local products from snacks, jellies, soaps, coffee and more, most of which you will recognize as locally created. There are vegan & gluten-free offerings in addition to the many organic items. Directly behind the retail space is the community kitchen-a complete commercial kitchen space available for rent-perhaps to create your own seasonal jam or jelly or cater an event at the greenhouse space next to the building. In addition, they have a pizza oven that could also be rented for any event.
The greenhouse is a large venue available for rent for events and was recently used for an engagement party-it can seat up to 70 (once guidelines allow). “The idea of connecting the local community to farmers and producers was our guiding principle” says Amy.
“In addition to the greenhouse and the kitchen, we plan on adding raised bed gardens and can see any part of our space being used for small or large gatherings, tea parties, anything that brings the community together”.
Merry Meeting Kitchen currently works with several of the local farmers for local products but as the growing season comes into play, they plan on incorporating more farmer’s goods in the store. With the Saturday Farmer’s Market returning to the parking lot behind Flight Deck Brewing this Saturday, they anticipate people will continue shopping at their shop after perusing the farmer’s market. There are many more collaborations in the works with multiple farms and vendors so one can expect to see Merry Meeting Kitchen itself “grow” as the summer months arrive.
Currently open Wednesday through Friday 11 am to 6 pm, Saturday 11 am to 4 pm. There’s an option to order from local producers for pick up by visiting line.ca/merry-meeting. For more information about Merry Meeting Kitchen, events & information sessions, visit www.merrymeetingkitchen.com/ or call then at 207-446-4027.
We at the Brunswick Downtown Association are so happy to see the growth taking place at The Brunswick Landing and the collaboration between the many businesses such as Flight Deck Brewing, Wild Oats Bakery & Cafe and now the Merry Meeting Kitchen, making The Brunswick Landing a destination of its own within the Brunswick community. And coming soon we will be featuring yet another new business right next door to Merry Meeting Kitchen, Spark Cycling Studio! Be sure to stay tuned to our website or Facebook & Instagram for their big opening announcement soon!
April 14, 2021: Root Rind & Petal, her story
We at the Brunswick Downtown Association as well as our community are once again blessed to see another new business rise from the pandemic year and open up shop in Brunswick. Root Rind & Petal is a quaint new shop located at 8 Pleasant Street with a welcoming porch and mini garden at the front.
Owner Jennifer Fitzpatrick has been in the location since March of 2020 of last year, opening the doors in December of 2020. The store is filled with items that please the senses-the diffuser filling the air with the day’s essential oil, soft music fills the air while you browse. Each display is a mini showcase, neatly arranged to highlight the wide variety of items.
The story behind her business started in 2015 when her youngest son Nathan was diagnosed with pediatric cancer. As he endured the year of treatments, Jennifer began seeking alternative medicines for both physical and mental healing, for both her and her son. Her diligence led her to many discoveries that she feels made the recovery process so much easier to deal with. One such discovery was Lucy’s Love Bus-a non-profit organization in Amesbury Massachusetts offering alternative therapies for children with cancer. As her son began the recovery process, she began sharing her story of healing with others going through similar situations, and for the past five years has offered group sessions and classes to people from all over the state of Maine, sharing her knowledge and experience with anyone that finds themselves in similar situations. Each Wednesday evening is Workshop Wednesday from 5:30 to 6:30 PM at the store.
Today the shop is alive and packed with so many unique items including Aromatherapy items, crystals & minerals, soaps & candles, books and more. You will be welcomed by the sights, smells, and sounds of relaxing, natural therapies. With Mother’s Day coming up, have Jennifer put together a custom basket for you (order soon). For more information on her events & information sessions, visit her Facebook page at www.facebook.com/rootrindandpetal or stop in Wednesday through Saturday from Noon to 6:00 PM.
March 31, 2021: This week: BDA is on the move; Outdoor Dining
Returns; Welcome new members! by Tom Barter
After nearly 17 years in our 2nd floor office above Norway Savings Bank, the Brunswick Downtown Association moved our office to a much larger, first floor space at Senter Place. We said goodbye to our “roost” this week at Norway Savings Bank at 85 Maine Street, leaving behind the legacy office space of the foundation of the BDA, as the name was changed from Brunswick Intown Group, or BIG in 2004. With the addition of a full-time executive director (Stephanie Slocum) and the need for affordable office space, Norway Savings Bank offered the office at an extremely reasonable cost. As the years went by, additional staff was needed to handle the growing membership, marketing and event needs as BDA continued to develop many of the current programs and events that we still host today. For the last several years the 2-room, 460 square foot space housed 3 full time employees and supply storage, and it became obvious more room was needed. Additionally, many of the event supplies had been stored in the 2nd floor empty office space above Key Bank on Maine Street-with limited access and labor-intensive shuffling for many events. As the saying goes “timing is everything”, space became available at Senter Place this year.
The new space includes a separate area with enough room to store all our event supplies from Key Bank, giving us unlimited, first-floor access when needed. We are sad to leave our former space and will miss our Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Bath Brunswick neighbors as well as the ever-accommodating staff at Norway Savings Bank, but are happy to be part of the Senter Place “family” and be more in the heart of downtown Brunswick. We welcome anyone to stop by and say hello as soon as we are fully organized and ready for visitors, hopefully by the end of April. We hope to host an open house sometime this year. We can still be reached at 207-729-4439 and mailing will remain PO Box 15 in Brunswick.
Outdoor Dining Returns: With the tease of warmer weather, we saw the breakout of tables at many of our downtown restaurants and the return of the Mall food trucks for those that enjoy the fresh air, distancing or just the chance to get outdoors! From Pepper’s Landing at Cook’s Corner, Fat Boy Drive-In on Bath Road, Flight Deck Brewing at Brunswick Landing, to Scarlet Begonia’s and Byrne’s Irish Pub on Station Avenue. As for downtown, you can now dine outside (as weather allows) at Bohemian Coffee House, Grampa’s Garden, Broadway Deli, Portland Pie, Gelato Fiasco, Little Dog Coffee Shop, Bombay Mahal, Big E’s Burritos, and soon (April 14th) Joshua’s Restaurant. Many feature outdoor heaters, and most locations also can be found on a new website, Maine Outdoor Dine @ https://www.maineoutdoordine.com/ a new site highlighting Maine’s outdoor dining options.
As always, our local restaurants have survived only because of local support, so keep on ordering local!
Welcome New Members: Last but not least we want to welcome a few new members this week: Root, Rind & Petal is a new shop at 8 Pleasant Street featuring Essential Oils, Stones and Tools for Health and Wellness. Open 12-6 Wednesday through Saturday; call (207) 680-5509.
Merry Meeting Kitchen is a local marketplace, online network and Community Kitchen. Not quite open yet but offering a variety of local food items for pick-up on Friday afternoon at 39 Burbank Avenue (former site of the winter farmer’s market) at Brunswick Landing. (207) 522-6276
Red Cloak Tours joined the BDA this week and offers historical tours of 12 Maine towns including Brunswick, featuring TeleTours or live guided tours to allow social distancing as well.
Look for a full write-up on these new businesses with pictures in the next Membership News & Updates on April 14th!
3/15/2021 Coming Soon: The all-new Tontine Mall!
Have you wondered how the construction was going at the Tontine Mall or wondered when will construction be complete?” We may have some answers for you…We were invited by property owner Dan Catlin of Commercial Properties to view the renovation progress at the Tontine Mall recently. We met Dan at the entrance to the Eveningstar Cinema / The Music Center walked up to the former Wild Oats & dining space on the 2nd floor.
The entire floor has been completely gutted (except for Indrani’s space) and was teaming with construction workers weaving in & out. Although there is framework up for the some of the interior walls, Dan explains the layout. The biggest change is the dining area-after years of facing north with a view of the rear parking lot, it will now be on the south side with lots of windows. Dan shows us one of the two new windows that are nearly 12-feet-wide and open easily (to nearly 12’ long), overlooking the planned outdoor dining area. The windows were an unplanned expense, but Dan feels people will appreciate the access to fresh air in the warmer months.
Next, he points out the ceiling-made of hemlock boards and support beams, and after having an engineer review the materials and deemed them fully safe, he decided to clean them up and leave them exposed to highlight some of the history of the building. Although Dan has not finalized the future tenant of this space, he hints that he is close to an agreement that, if secured, could result in some type of bakery and possibly a butcher shop. The remaining space on the 2nd floor is currently being leased to Homes & Harbors (now Engel & Volkers Real Estate) and Indrani’s-the latter of which will also feature expanded space. Of note-the primary entrance to the 2nd floor will be on the south side (near where the entrance to Wild Oats was) and will also feature an elevator for full access to all floors.
After this we proceeded to the basement, or 1st floor as it is officially called. Again, we are amazed to see an entirely gutted floor-all interior walls have been removed as well as most of the concrete floor. Dan explains that once they began the project last fall and faced problems with the existing sewer (which ran on pumps that had to be pumped out several times per year) and water system, he decided at that point that he could either invest “just enough” to get the building up to code or “go all in” and make a true, long-term investment in the property. He decided on the latter-making the new Tontine Mall a new, modern, and efficient space for his tenants and their customers. “We started by running all electrical from the pole underground (which also included the Riley Insurance and Sotheby’s buildings). Next, we realized we needed an all new, gravity-feed septic system that could handle the flow without pumping” he stated. And then the water-which was currently a 2-inch feed, he decided to go with 6-inch water feed lines to provide more than enough water pressure for every tenant, current and future. This required bringing in mini excavators into the basement to dig up all water & septic lines and make the changes. Another necessary adjustment made in the basement was the construction of small support walls to shore up the existing concrete & steel beams. This will also afford him flexibility in the construction of interior walls as needed in the future. As we visited the crews were busy removing the remaining concrete flooring to prepare for the new concrete pouring in the weeks ahead. Dan’s vision for now is to leave the 1st floor as open as possible as it will be a common space for some of the tenants until future spaces are leased.
As we ended the tour, we asked about the 3rd floor-most everyone knows he plans to build apartments there to add to the housing availability in downtown Brunswick. “They (contractors) will be starting around the first of April” he says, and when asked when he anticipates the construction of the 1st and 2nd floors to be completed, we were shocked to hear him say that construction could finish by the end of March with some spaces opening as soon as April, and the 3rd floor could be ready by mid to late summer.
So, if you have passed by the Tontine Mall these past few months and wondered why things seemed to be moving slowly, now you know-the entire Tontine Mall, when completed, was a ground-up restoration and not just a few renovations here and there. We are excited to see the finished project-including the new 2nd floor dining area, outdoor patio, updated exterior, and the new apartments! If you would like more information about the Tontine Mall or are interested in leasing a space there, you can sign up for their newsletter at https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfdrLvxWJHTis4NLp8MnW-C5Vbz65eLXj24aqmxFFryDHQHQA/viewform . We look forward to the completed project and another beautiful investment in downtown Brunswick!
3/03/2021: Welcome Bay Bowls to Brunswick! No, it’s not ice cream
We welcome Bay Bowls, our newest downtown business to open (yes, during the pandemic) and new members of the Brunswick Downtown Association. Located at the corner of Maine Street and Station Avenue at the former Cote’s Ice Cream building, Bay Bowls brings yet another new cuisine style to one of the most diverse dining line-ups you will find on any Main street in USA.
What is a Bay Bowl? I recently visited with the owner, Sal Matari while he was preparing to open the shop. First, I can personally attest that Bay Bowls are one of the most delicious bowls of healthy food I’ve ever tasted (yes healthy). But don’t let the word healthy scare you from trying one! A Bay Bowl could be breakfast, lunch, dinner, or dessert because of the many ingredients that will leave you both satisfied and, well yes-feeling good!
The story behind Bay Bowls is another story of someone betting on the Brunswick community and of taking a risk. Owner Sal Matari worked in the clothing industry for over 30 years primarily in New York City; his daughter, Leah moved to Bowdoinham about 5 years ago and attended Bowdoin College. Leah & her friends craved the Acai smoothies and bowls they enjoyed in NY and beyond, and often drove to Portland to find them. When Leah saw the vacant Cote’s space last year, she texted her family with the info. “I never thought about owning or running my own business” Sal says while chopping the fresh strawberries at the counter. But one thing led to another and soon a lease was signed. Sal, with help from his family, spent a significant amount of time and capital on renovating the Cote’s space, working through the summer and fall to get things ready to open.
Things were ready to go by early January, and they officially opened on Saturday, January 30th, with a line that wrapped around the corner onto Station Avenue! Why open an Acai bowl & smoothie shop in January? Sal’s response is simple “If not when you’re ready, then when?”, and so they launched in the coldest months of the year. Since opening (Sal & family) are very pleased with the support they’ve received from both the town and the community. They have seen people of all ages come out to try the many varieties of bowls from the menu and have enjoyed many repeat customers already. Things are going so well, in fact, that Sal is already dreaming of branching out and leaving his clothing career behind.
One thing they want you to know-this is NOT another ice cream shop. As Sal recalls a conversation with a local couple that stopped by during construction, Sal tried to describe what the prime ingredients were like and had to use the analogy of sorbet, which the couple then said “Oh, so another ice cream shop?”. So just what is a Bay Bowl made of? The key ingredients are Acai (pronounced “Ah-Sigh-Ee”) berries and Pitaya (Dragon fruit) berries, which are blended to make a smooth, creamy base for all bowls and smoothies. Sal won’t reveal his source, but he knows he is getting the best there is and has to drive hours to get it. Add to that a selection of fresh fruit (Sal plans on locally sourcing when available) choices including strawberries, blueberries, coconut, pineapple, banana, etc. and a few special topping ingredients and you have a Bay Bowl! As you enjoy the bowl and the Acai & Pitaya start to melt the flavors blend together and you don’t want it to end! Rather than go into more detail of the ingredients and the health benefits, I’ll let you try one for yourself while chatting with Sal and the staff, and you’ll wonder why you never had one before!
2/17/2021: Turning a vision into reality: Woods and Waters Gear Exchange
How much fun can you have running a business? Just ask Jenna Vanni of Woods & Waters Gear Exchange. Just check out some of her Facebook posts showcasing some of her outdoor gear and you get the sense that someone is enjoying what they do, and for good reason.
Last week Jenna was recognized for her efforts with LIFTED Outdoors to raise money for Teens to Trails, Kingdom Kids, and The Venture Out Project. Jenna was very supportive of LO’s mission as it was a way that she could support several youth organizations throughout New England. This first campaign raised $300 for the participating organizations. Teens to Trails was selected as a beneficiary of LIFTED’s first campaign and these funds will support high school outing clubs, including the clubs at Brunswick and Mt. Ararat High Schools.
Woods & Waters Gear Exchange opened the doors as a new downtown Brunswick Business on January 18th, 2019 and since that day the business has taken off and grown well beyond what she expected, especially with a pandemic hitting just over a year later. As a new business owner striking out for the first time on her own, it has been a success from day one (which anyone can tell you is usually not the case with any new business) even though being an entrepreneur was the furthest thing from her mind just years ago.
Jenna started a career in engineering garments, a bit off from her college studies of Studio Art and Community Development. Working with several companies including LL Bean, she spent years in apparel development and fashion design, but always knew there was something missing. Having the opportunity to travel to New York, Los Angeles and overseas she began thinking of “a way out”. Through these years working with new apparel and outdoor gear she accumulated lots of items as part of her work, even offering to buy some items off her co-workers. She began hoarding these items and a plan soon formulated. “In my years at the University of Vermont I discovered a store in town called The Outdoor Gear Exchange offering used outdoor gear & apparel for a fraction of the cost, and also a warm, welcominig atmosphere. It allowed me to explore many outdoor sports that I may not have had the opportunity to do, and it was such a fun, laid-back store that I just enjoyed going back”. Soon the idea came together-her collection of items, a love of the outdoors and a drive to help others to explore nature created an opportunity, so she struck out create her own gear exchange. She fell in love with #12 Pleasant Street from the minute she walked in and the dream became a reality in a few short days. With access to Bowdoin students (and eventually many other college students in the area) and a downtown location, she felt this was the ideal place to open “Woods + Waters Gear Exchange”, stocking the store initially with her years of collected items. Since then, she has built a successful consignment shop that continues to expand in outdoor gear & apparel, from gloves, hats & jackets to boots, bikes and canoes. Carrying pretty much anything you can imagine she has also had many unique items. “I just received a dog sled” she says, “and military issue sleeping bags complete with arms and legs!”
Jenna loves what she does, especially knowing that she is giving others the opportunity to explore the outdoors that otherwise may not afford to do so. She often donates items to those in need, works with local start-ups by featuring their merchandise, and works with the local B’wick Bikes program, rehabilitating old bicycles and donating them to those in need. After 2 years in business, she feels the business has been a success and looks forward to continuing her mission of helping people to explore the great outdoors and live a better life. Check out her shop at 12 Pleasant Street or preview items online https://wwgearexchange.com/ , on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
01/28/2021 BDA’s Member of the Year-Curtis Memorial Library
The Brunswick Downtown Association Board of Directors have voted Curtis Memorial Library as the 2020 Member of the Year Award winner.Your local library since 1883, Curtis Memorial Library has weathered many changes throughout its history, but nothing like the pandemic. A mecca for all the community, a library’s primary function is to provide a space for people to interact around information, and Curtis Memorial Library provides this and so much more.
For Library Director Liz Doucett and the staff at CML, the decision to close the doors to the public (twice) was not easy, but necessary to protect the staff and patrons. However, immediately after closing the doors in March, the staff began finding ways to move many of their services to online platforms. “I’m so proud of how quickly we shifted gears…they put their fears and anxieties aside and came up with plans to help the community to be able to enjoy the benefits of the library” says Liz. With curbside pick-up one of the first moves made to accommodate the traditional lending service, many of the familiar programs were moved to online platforms-one example is the art exhibit in the Morrell Meeting Room, an ongoing, rotating art display featuring local artists. “Normally we’d see dozens of people viewing the art in person, but once we launched the virtual exhibit, we saw hundreds of views, and more art was being sold through this new program.” There are more than a dozen new virtual services that have been added since the pandemic, and Liz is quite proud of their work in creating a whole new model of how libraries operate. As Liz says, “I feel like we’ve never really closed down”.
When I asked Liz what she was most proud of, she related back to the quick actions and flexibility of her staff. “The demonstrated their willingness to keep moving forward in the face of all obstacles. Everybody has learned to navigate through this new (online) environment and operate as best as possible”. Some of the other innovations the library has introduced include hundreds of virtual books and magazines added to the cloud library, the addition of Lynda.com-an extensive online learning database, language-learning programs, and Kanopy-streaming movies & documentaries. Additional services added include contact-free delivery of material to senior and assisted living, Books on Wheels delivery service, Telephone discussions with patrons about next book recommendations plus regular blogs with reading recommendations, resumed weekly pick up of Harpswell book drop, and if you haven’t checked it out yet a new podcast (Curtis Cast) on dozens of useful topics for all.
Liz and her staff look forward to the day when they can safely “return to normal” and open the doors to the public, but in the meantime they have been working tirelessly to offer the same services their patrons are used to in a way that is as convenient as possible under the current circumstances and will continue to bring the community together as best as can be…and for that we congratulate the staff of Curtis Memorial Library for the BDA Member of the Year Award for 2020!
With the marijuana industry coming into full acceptance across the US, you do not need to look far to find dispensaries popping up across the state of Maine, but like a good coffee house versus a fast-food drive-through, all dispensaries are not alike. Meet Keith & Kevin Carlon, brothers with roots in Brunswick, that opened Elevated Remedies, a medical cannabis dispensary at 14 Industrial Parkway in Brunswick.
Keith started his work in the cannabis industry in California where he worked for three years in cultivation as well as studying the medicinal side of the plant and its effects on the endocrine system and psychological health. After seeing an opportunity at home, Keith returned to Maine to be closer to family; and with the help of his brother Kevin, who had been working in cultivation for a few years, began the business planning and licensing process. With a lot of elbow grease, caffeine, meetings, and a few lucky stars; the brothers Carlon opened for business in August of 2019.
Dedicated to setting the bar high, Elevated Remedies works with their patients to provide the best product based on their needs in a highly consultative setting. When you walk into their shop, you are greeted with a rustic, yet clinical aesthetic designed to highlight some of their extensive product lines and to give a homey Maine feel. By appointment, Keith & Kevin will meet with you to learn about your needs and discuss the many options available from pain management, sleep-aids and anxiety relief that can be very educational for the first-time user. From day one, Keith and Kevin believe that education and de-stigmatization is the key to helping cannabis patients feel enabled and encouraged when selecting the products that best suit their needs.
Although marijuana has been legalized in most every state, many people still have pre-conceived notions about the industry, including yours truly. When I met Keith last year and spent some time learning about his background and extensive knowledge of how the different cannabis products interact with our bodies, I walked away with a completely different outlook and truly understand the positive impacts cannabis can have for a variety of medical conditions.
One of the biggest challenges they face currently is their location in the Industrial Park-it’s not the best location for any retail business including a dispensary. Based on existing town ordinances and zoning, marijuana dispensaries can only be in the industrial zones of Brunswick, and this has had an impact on getting new customers to find them; especially where the lack of foot traffic is concerned. Keith and Kevin have set a goal to work with the town on potentially expanding the zoning for storefronts in Brunswick because, at the end of the day, they are committed to being a visible part of the Brunswick business community. For them, like any customer-facing business, being closer to the Pleasant Street or even Maine Street corridor would be ideal, not only for them but for their clients. Until that day comes, please make a point of checking out Brunswick’s best kept secret at Elevated Remedies and chatting with Keith and Kevin, you will not be disappointed.