Musical staff

The Wrap: Short-staffed, Miranda Cafe in Rockland and Parker’s Restaurant are forced to close permanently

Cafe Miranda in Rockland in 2011. Photo by Tim Greenway

Breaking hearts in Rockland and beyond, Café Miranda said it expects to end its 29-year existence this Saturday because it doesn’t have enough staff.

A June 14 post on the Facebook page of Rockland restaurant — owned by chef Kerry Altiero — reads in part: “What we have is a great team, a great place, the best customers in the best city, but what we don’t have enough employees to be open more than three days a week. … In the absence of a miraculous turnaround, it is time for us to pass the torch. It’s time someone else owned this magical place and spirit on Oak Street.

Altiero said his kitchen would need three additional skilled cooks to be able to work at full capacity. Labor shortages have been problematic in the restaurant industry since before the pandemic. “At this point, the staffing problem is endemic everywhere and acute in the restaurant industry.”

The funky, fun restaurant at 15 Oak St. has built a loyal following over the years, drawn to Altiero’s eclectic, multi-ethnic menu and playful style. More than 400 commenters flooded Café Miranda’s Facebook page to share their dismay at the news of the impending closure.

Saturday will be the last service at Café Miranda. “We’re not going out with a box of tissues, we’re going out with a rock n’ roll menu,” Altiero said.

Meanwhile, back in North Deering…

THE PARKER RESTAURANT IS CLOSED

After 33 years in business, Parker’s Restaurant will permanently close its doors on Washington Avenue this Saturday, facing the same staffing issues as Café Miranda.

“There are very few skilled kitchen helpers available,” co-owner Jeff MacDonald said, noting that while Parker’s has a chef, sous chef and cook, they would need four to six skilled kitchen workers. extra to be able to maintain the restaurant. The owners announced the June 25 closure on Tuesday on their Facebook page.

“Staffing has been a problem for everyone for the past two years,” MacDonald continued, explaining that the problem was not new or sudden for Parker’s. “The labor market is scarce. But if you don’t have horses, you can’t pull the cart.

MacDonald said he sympathized with Café Miranda. “If you have a quality product and you can’t find the people to produce it, you can’t just lower your standards of perfection,” he said. “And if you can’t serve your customers well, that puts too much pressure on everyone.”

GOODFIRE BREWING EXPANDS TO FREEPORT

Goodfire Brewing is moving forward with plans for a new tasting room, restaurant and brewery in Freeport, which owner David Redding says could be open by the second week of September.

Located in the Route 1 building that once housed the Conundrum wine bar and El Jefe, a taco bar, the new Goodfire location has been in the works for a year and a half, Redding said. The Goodfire team renovated and expanded the structure, making it considerably larger than its original five-year-old location in Portland, with more amenities, too.

Freeport’s outdoor seating area spans 4,800 square feet, with an additional 5,000 square feet indoors. Redding expects to be able to accommodate up to about 130 customers in total. By contrast, Goodfire’s tasting room in Portland is 1,500 square feet and can accommodate about 90 customers.

The Freeport tasting room will also have 24 taps, twice as many as Goodfire now has in Portland. The open concept facility will also feature vaulted ceilings, a gas fireplace and a private dining area.

Redding said Goodfire had hired Ben Christie, a former head chef at Hugo’s in Portland, as executive chef for the Freeport business. Redding said Christie would put together a menu of “high quality casual food” as well as light snacks. Kevin Nelson, former general manager of The Honey Paw, will join Goodfire as general manager of the Freeport site.

TRAVEL ! THE RETURN OF THE WHOOPIE PIE FESTIVAL

After taking two years off for the pandemic, the Maine Whoopie Pie Festival returns to downtown Dover-Foxcroft this Saturday.

The event runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., featuring 20 bakers and thousands of whoopie pies, plus live music, rides and games for kids, artists, artisans, vendors and other activities.

Festival organizer Patrick Myers said that although there have been challenges restarting the festival, the event has remained largely unchanged. “Some bakers can’t attend due to staffing issues, but we have several new bakers involved this year, which means we’ll have lots of whoopie pies,” he said, adding that most attractions Festival traditions return, including live music from the Doughty Hill Band, whoopie pie-eating contests and magic shows.

Myers advised festival-goers to look for the yellow “Festival Parking” signs, which lead to the Piscataquis Valley fairgrounds. After parking at the fairgrounds, you can take a shuttle downtown to enjoy the festival, Piscataquis County’s largest annual event. “There is no way to find a parking space in Dover on festival day,” Myers said. “You’ll save time and frustration if you just drive to the fairgrounds and take a shuttle.”

Admission to the festival is $5 per person and free for children 12 and under. The event is organized by the Center Theater and the Piscataquis Chamber of Commerce, and is the largest annual fundraiser for both organizations. For more information, visit the festival website.

SUPPORT LOCAL POOCHES AT ALES FOR TAILS

The Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland is hosting its annual fundraiser, Ales for Tails, in South Portland on Sunday.

The dog-centric beer festival runs from 2-5 p.m. at the Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse on Fort Road. About 17 Maine craft breweries are participating in this year’s festivities, along with four food trucks.

Tickets are $60 online or $70 at the door. Admission includes six installments (8oz) at the brewery booths, parking, and a souvenir aluminum tasting mug. Festival-goers are encouraged to bring their well-behaved and leashed puppies. All money raised at the event goes to support the over 4,000 pets the league cares for each year.


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