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How Restaurants Become Real: The Velveteen Habit

Possible location for The Velveteen Habit in Ogunquit?
Possible location for The Velveteen Habit in Ogunquit?

It was recently announced that Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier, former owners of Arrows, would be running the Press Hotel's restaurant in Portland in 2015. Soon after, Eater received a tip that the former Arrows restaurant in Ogunquit, on the market since last fall for $1.2 million, was under agreement. An in-planning restaurant called The Velveteen Habit recently tweeted, "We are officially coming to the York/Cape Neddick area. Stay tuned on our progress...we look forward to hosting you soon!" Could this be the business replacing Arrows? Eater reached out to co-owners Benjamin Goldman and Brent Bushong, who declined to comment on the question, saying they would give more information when possible.

Bushong explained the impetus for the name, thought up by Goldman's wife in a clear reference to beloved children's book The Velveteen Rabbit. In the story, a stuffed rabbit becomes real thanks to the love of its owner. "It's comfort, familiarity," Bushong said. "It's the idea that if you think about something long enough, it becomes real." As far as the word "habit," Bushong explained, "Hopefully you can't stop coming, and it becomes a routine."

eater0914_velveteen habit twitter.jpegThe restaurant concept, Bushong described, is along the lines of a "fine dining tavern": Whole animals broken down, seasonal goods utilized fully, produce and meat cured and preserved, but everything without pretense. Bushong said that while the chef cannot yet be named due to current commitments, he's committed to that style of cooking, "Not just local, but sustainable, too, which is more effective both economically and practically."

Goldman, the principal figure in the venture, is originally from Western Massachusetts, and has spent the past decade in the corporate world, where he dreamed of owning a restaurant. He's a certified sommelier, and he's "fiercely practical," said Bushong; Goldman had a strong vision but knew he needed to bring in someone with solid restaurant experience to help him make his dream a reality.

Hailing from New Hampshire, Bushong's work experience includes The French Laundry (Yountville), Michael Mina (San Francisco), Charlie Trotter's (Chicago), and Commander's Palace (New Orleans). He worked in Spain and France for a time, and was at Millwright's in Connecticut most recently. Since leaving Millwright's, he has been consulting and looking at potential locations for the new venture.

The official Twitter feed shows that the previous plan was to open in Boston (it also looks like the Twitter handle used to be @theVHma). Bushong admitted that wherever they end up, they'd love to be serving food by the end of the year. What do you think, readers?
[Photo: The Velveteen Habit, Twitter]
· The Velveteen Habit [Facebook, Twitter, Website]
· Arrows Restaurant is For Sale for $1.2 Million [-EME-]
· Tandem, Sur Lie, and More Coming Soon to Portland [-EME-]
· All Arrows Coverage [-EME-]