New in Rockland, Maine – 2016!
If I’ve learned anything about Rockland, Maine in the time we’ve been here, it’s that it will constantly be changing. I thought a lot of new things had happened in 2015, but posting a round up of what’s new in Rockland for 2016 is an even bigger task!
Change is good, but it’s still sad to say goodbye to some of the old businesses that made way for the new. Most notably from our point of view, favorites The Thorndike Creamery, The Blackboard Deli, Comida, and The Brown Bag are no longer with us.
The good news is, some very exciting new people have come to occupy a few of the old spaces. Furthermore, there is a spectacular new art attraction in town for me to tell you about. Without further ado, here are some wonderful new developments coming in downtown Rockland, Maine!
The Center for Maine Contemporary Art (CMCA)
According to a February 24th press release, the Center for Maine Contemporary Art will open its new building, designed by internationally acclaimed architect Toshiko Mori, on June 26. I’ve engaged in some major rubbernecking on Main Street, trying to get a glimpse of this exciting new 5,500 square foot facility, and it is definitely jazzing up its new spot down at 21 Winter Street. Furthermore, this beautiful new museum will be open and exhibiting year round and plans to provide both educational programs and special events.
In a city already well-known for the amazing Farnsworth Museum and myriad art galleries, the CMCA is going to provide a wonderful complement of contemporary art focusing “on the art of this generation and the next” (CMCA). I can’t think of a more appropriate addition to Rockland, which is quickly evolving into a vibrant and current center of activity in midcoast Maine.
New Main Street Shops
As soon as I complete this post, I’m sure there will be even more news to share, but we do what we can to keep up! Main Street now boasts a bridal store, an exciting new home furnishings and DIY design shop, and a florist. More and more, you can do everything you need to do on foot in Rockland.
Maine Country Home
This delightful new store at 371 Main Street defies categorization. I’m perhaps best off simply quoting the owners in describing it as specializing “in home furnishings and DIY design inspired by the crisp air, brilliant sun, and rugged beauty of the coast of Maine.” The interior is a feast for the DIY and furniture enthusiast, and what I did learn while speaking with co-owner Samantha is that there’s a lot of action happening at the shop.
Not only can you come in and buy a beautifully refinished piece right off the shop floor, but you can also buy materials (such as Annie Sloan Chalk Paint® or Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint) or unique home accessories. Even more interesting is the fact that you can book studio time to bring in a piece of furniture, buy your refinishing materials, and work right there with help and supervision. Furthermore, the owners even offer support after you’ve left the store, saying that they are just a phone call or e-mail away (during reasonable business hours – be nice) if you are mid-project and require some guidance.
I’ve never heard of a home furnishings store that versatile – have you?
If nothing else, stop in to visit these wonderful ladies and catch the refinishing bug. Their store and their enthusiasm is irresistible. If you’d like to stalk them online, they are really easy to find (and would welcome the company!) You can find them at their blog and on Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter chatting up a storm and sharing their latest finds and projects.
Somebody Loves Me Bridal
Right next door to Maine Country Home at 373 Main Street is the lovely window of Somebody Loves Me Bridal. As it turns out, this is much more than just a place for brides and their attendants. This store is a helpful new resource for women seeking attire for any formal occasion or some special lingerie to go with it, as well as being a place where they can get highly skilled alterations on just about any article of clothing.
I spent a really interesting half hour in the shop chatting with its owner, Betty Shannon, even as she and her assistant helped two separate groups of ladies on a chilly Tuesday.
The first thing I noticed (and any woman who has shopped for a wedding dress will “get” this) is that the sample gowns were offered in many different sizes. Rather than offering just traditional “sample size” and clipping the gown to fit a woman’s true figure, Betty has committed to serving brides of all shapes and sizes so that any woman can actually try on the dress she loves. Gowns are offered in 4 to 30 and the store carries multiples in every size.
Indeed a variety of those shapes are proudly displayed on the mannequins. Betty says that this truly represents the spirit of her business. Any woman can come into Somebody Loves Me and find a beautiful gown that will be worthy of her occasion. Rather than just selling last season’s samples, as many bridal stores do, Somebody Loves Me will allow a bride to take a sample right off the rack, if it happens to be in her size. If not, the sample can be ordered in the correct proportions for a perfect future fit.
Although my bridal experience is just a fond memory, I have a feeling I am going to be visiting Betty and her staff for some skilled alterations sometime soon. That, and, of course, I will be checking out their lovely window displays. Stop in and say hi! They are really friendly and have wonderful taste.
You can also find them on Facebook!
The Flower Goddess
Even if you only stop in to say hello, visiting Laurie and Mark at The Flower Goddess at 474 Main Street will be one of the most uplifting moments of your day.
I opened the door expecting a cold room with a light floral scent (that’s the florist thing, right?) and was greeted, instead, by a profusion of warmth and wonderful smells that went beyond flowers. In fact, you may find you come in and forget to order flowers as you’re browsing the many metaphysical items they stock and chatting with them about…well…anything! The store is filled with great gift ideas ranging from pendants to crystal balls, and the stock focuses on items that are lovingly Maine-made.
When it comes to the floral business, Laurie and Mark have a philosophy that their shop is all about the quality of the flowers. They strive to use as many local resources as possible and they won’t work with those huge online delivery sites that most of us feel we have to use when we send arrangements. Instead, the owners of The Flower Goddess urge you to simply contact them directly and chat with them about what you need – even if it is simply to find a florist far away in another town. By rejecting what they call “order gatherers,”, they are able to put all your dollars into the most beautiful arrangements they can provide.
New Rockland Restaurants
I use the term “restaurants” loosely, because this spring’s crop of new food outlets is all about coming and going as you please and getting only the highest quality nosh in the process. Furthermore, NORTH END, BABY. You have to excuse us for being delighted that these new places are literally blocks from Sadler House. Sorry, but you’re going to need those fat pants.
The Home Kitchen Cafe Expands!
It’s no secret that we are major Home Kitchen Cafe and Cone Home fans here. With the exit of The Brown Bag, a new opportunity existed for the folks at Home Kitchen to grow their offerings. They have taken over the old Brown Bag space at the intersection of Rankin and North Main Street and will be opening a bakery and a sub and burrito shop. One notable difference between the original Home Kitchen Cafe and the sub and burrito shop is that the sandwich shop will focus on grab-and-go and will not have table service, although a few tables will be available for those who prefer to eat in. Of special interest to my children was the fact that Cone Home will also be moving into this new storefront on Rankin Block.
How the Cone Home house on North Main will be used is still under consideration, but we will stay tuned and let you know as soon as that information becomes public. The current word is that the Home Kitchen Cafe will still be using the space…for something great.
The timetable for the opening is still in flux, but co-owner Susan Schiro suggests that an April or May date is possible and that the bakery may be the first to open its doors. All we know is that WE ARE THERE.
If you’ve been in Rockland the past two years, you may have seen the Pho Sizzle truck around town and drooled a little.
What? Just me?
To our delight, Pho Sizzle has opened up a brick-and-mortar location in the ground floor of 10 Leland St (which is near Wasses and behind the Free Press building). I had lots of questions. Can I eat in? How do I order takeout? Will I embarrass myself with my awkwardness in not knowing these things? Luckily, Tom and Jamie at Pho Sizzle are incredibly laid back and friendly and I can report that the food is amazing (as I’d always suspected).
I got to stop in there for lunch with Hillary from Organiclean after we had a very satisfying morning reorganizing the Sadler House linen closet (no, really, we love that stuff). Hillary got the shrimp vermicelli rice noodle bowl and I had the pho with chicken. It was such a great lunch, and then I easily ordered and took home pork banh mi and an egg roll for poor Dan, who was stuck at home watching the kids.
All food is pronounced delicious.
The facts: you can either show up and wait for and eat your food there, or you can order it in advance and take it out. To order lunch, you e-mail email@example.com by 10:30 am and they will confirm by 11 am. For dinner, order at the same e-mail by 2:30 pm and you’ll get a confirmation back by 3 pm. Of note, there is a 15% surcharge for takeout to cover packaging and soups are not available for takeout.
I see a lot of food flowing between Pho Sizzle and Sadler House in the future. Consider this your go-to rainy day takeout, for sure. You can follow Pho Sizzle on Facebook and see their takeout menu!
In Other News…
The old Blackboard Deli space on Park Street is being turned into a full-service butcher that will offer the finest handcrafted cuts, some local and organic offerings, and custom cuts to order, as well. According to owner, Dale Dare, they are planning to also offer conveniences like ready-made meals to go (such as baby back ribs and eggplant parm), sides, and a line of signature rubs and marinades made in-house. In addition, they will also offer a selection of craft beers (with a focus on building your own six packs) and wines.
Hops and Chops is estimating a mid-May opening date, but you can follow them on Facebook for the latest news.
Claws Lobster Eatery is planning an early opening this year for May 25th. Co-owner Luanne says there are new menu items including a tantalizing-sounding lobster burger that will be made with fresh-picked lobster, lightly breaded and flash-friend and then served on a brioche roll. She also mentioned that they will have a $20 twin lobster dinner.
Hill’s Seafood Co. is currently slated to open for the season on May 5th.
Did I miss anything? Of course I did! Feel free to leave more news in the comments for everyone to read as they plan their time in Rockland this year.