Charlie S. White Jr., a frequent commenter on the Eater Maine Facebook page, misses something in the bustling Rockland restaurant landscape. Rather than complain, though, he's taking positive action. Inspired by the expansion of two Indian restaurants into the Waterville area, he's hoping to emulate what he sees as the success of a Facebook group called "Downtown Waterville wants an Indian restaurant".
Hence, the creation of "Rockland Maine Needs an Indian Restaurant". Consider it a less panhandley form of crowdsourcing.
There's no evidence that the years-long existence of the Waterville-based page led directly to change in Waterville's restaurant landscape. Then again, there's no evidence it didn't help, either. "Hey, it worked for Waterville...figure it can't hurt...," White wrote in an email. He said he hasn't had any connection to or contact with the creator of the Waterville page, but was indeed inspired by them.
He's taking the campaign seriously, putting in work publicly and privately. The page description includes a solemn sounding pledge to "advance the notion." The page timeline already has four entries in a series called "Get To Know Rockland Maine For Prospective Indian Restaurateurs," sharing vital stats about area tourism and restaurants, year-round population and food industry accolades, even local resources for aspiring business owners.
"The food scene on the midcoast is pretty remarkable given the population base, but ethnic cuisine has really been one of the biggest voids," the aspiring matchmaker lamented to Eater. "And for my purpose here, I define 'ethnic' as food that originates outside of North America and Western Europe," he clarified in a recent post listing the handful of successful Midcoast places that do something different, such as Suzuki's Sushi Bar.
Behind the scenes, White has been reaching out to Indian restaurateurs throughout Maine and New England, trying to convince them to expand to Rockland. "I messaged [Taj in South Portland] the other day asking if they were looking to open a 2nd location! In fact, I've been messaging quite a few...big surprise, they are ignoring me!" A Boston-area transplant, White revealed that one of his favorite Indian eateries is Punjab in Arlington, Massachusetts. "And yes, I've messaged them a few times," he said with a wink.
"Yes, this state needs more Indian for sure," White stated. And with go-getters like White on its side, more Indian the state just might get.