Build-out of Ebb & Flow is progressing, but a September opening date is out of the question. Burners will be on and staff dress rehearsals held before October 15, chef/co-owner William D'Auvray said, and at some point after that, the doors will be opened to the public.
D'Auvray was happy to show off many of the changes being made to the former Spread space, while holding some back for a later date. Not surprisingly, the heavy curtains will be gone when the restaurant opens, allowing the floor-to-ceiling windows to shine once again. The back room, close to the corner of Custom House Wharf, will have a crudo bar. The main bar and all the floors are being redone, and the original brick of the walls is being exposed. D'Auvray admired the great "bones" of buildings in Portland, and also noted that when designing the interior of a restaurant, he tries to bring nearby exterior elements in, which will become apparent as renovations are completed.
The process of building out a business in Portland has been a revelation to the chef, who landed in Maine by way of southern Florida.
"It's personable, interesting...quirky. People walk right in! Everybody knows somebody who can do this or that aspect...and then that person actually shows up. The piecemeal approach takes longer, but it's a labor of love instead of just building a space. When you pull together talented people like that, they get creative."The size of the space, which will seat around 130, has been cited as a negative factor in the past, but D'Auvray said he's used to running restaurants with twice as many seats. He called this one "the perfect size." He intends to build a following slowly, one table at a time, rather than start packed and scare away customers who have a bad experience. The restaurant will use OpenTable eventually, with a few slots reserved for walk-ins, and the chef said he and his staff will remain flexible.
As far as how the menu will be laid out, D'Auvray insisted, "An app is an app, an entrée is an entrée." His goal is to offer something different yet affordable. He conceded that small plates make sense in a small space, allowing a chef to show off despite constraints, but promised, "Our dishes will be substantial. We're big fans of sharing." The menu will be seasonal, with the name of the business reflecting the changing seasons as well as the ebb and flow of the tides.
The kitchen recently acquired a stand mixer, which will allow for "all kinds of Mediterranean breads and sweets." The chef stated, "I'm a firm believer that if you don't make it in house you can't serve it."
Ebb & Flow is hiring line cooks and front of house staff now. D'Auvray found it "refreshing" to see so many good applicants, and plans to hold intensive staff training once a team is assembled. Keep track of this and other anticipated fall openings with Eater's Fall Tracking guide.
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