In much of Maine, it is now officially the off-off-season, the quiet (OK, dead), post-holiday period when restaurateurs make changes in anticipation of increased warm-weather business.
ELLSWORTH — In a consolidation move, chef Rich Hanson is closing his fine-dining restaurant Cleonice next month and folding it in to his other business in town, The Maine Grind coffee shop, according to the Maine Travel Maven blog. "It will be the Maine Grind in the morning. It will be a blended lunch, with table service on one side and the coffee lounge on the other. At night, it will be all Cleonice ... It'll be an Alice Waters kind of thing with two restaurants in the same space."
LEWISTON-AUBURN — A "railroad-themed cafe" in the works since 2010, is under construction at the city's historic Grand Trunk Railroad Depot, according to the Bangor Daily News. Owner Karen Pulkkinen wouldn't comment, but "contractors have started work setting the building up as a cafe, a sign for the Grand Trunk Cafe has been put up and the Grand Trunk Cafe website ... is live on the Internet. [BDN]
PORTLAND — Lauren and Neil Reiter of Brooklin have filed an application with the city Zoning Board to waive the off-street parking requirement in order to open a "small, fine dining restaurant" on the ground floor of 227 York Street, according to The Portland Press Herald. The 1860s building, now a single family home, is next door to Outliers, which was granted the same waiver in 2008 and was expected to open this fall but hasn't yet. Neighbors and members of the West End Neighborhood Association are opposed, saying they "would like to see how the increased traffic and parking demand from that restaurant affect their neighborhood before granting other exceptions."