Carriage house completes a transition on Main Street in Yarmouth

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YARMOUTH — One thing was clear Monday at the open house for a new carriage house at Handy’s Market and Cafe: this is not the former Andy’s Handy Store.

“It’s new getting adjusted to the change, but I think this is great,” Terry Flaherty, of Yarmouth, said. “Change is great for the community.”

Yarmouth residents definitely embraced the change, as about 400 people packed the space at 367 Main St. The carriage house has Wi-Fi, cafe-style seating on the first floor, and an upstairs “community board room.”

Owner Sean Ireland, who bought and renovated the store early last year, always  intended to create the carriage house on the backside of Handy’s. The building, which is accessible from the store, also has its own entrance facing East Elm Street.

The carriage house is being financed by Gorham Savings Bank. The bank arrangement continues a trend for Handy’s, which already has partnerships with Hilltop Coffee and Otto pizza.

While some people say they miss the old store, which was a small convenience store with an ice cream window, they said the new and improved Handy’s is a great thing for Yarmouth.

“To be quite honest, I was one of those people who felt bad about them taking over the old Andy’s, but I love the owners and I think this is beautiful,” Lianne Hunt, of Yarmouth, said. “Anything that creates community is a good thing.”

Although the new space would be unrecognizable to anyone who only knew the store as Andy’s Handy Store, Ireland made sure to keep a few old touches and “embrace what was best of Handy’s.” Overlooking the cafe area is the large sign with the name of the old store that hung over the front entrance for many years.

“What we bought was a brand, an iconic brand,” Ireland said. “We were never going to shove that aside. We want to keep it alive.”

Those in attendance at Monday night’s event said they were impressed by the design of the carriage house.

“It’s awesome, very cool,” Portland resident Jamie Salomon said. “I love it architecturally and I think it’s a great addition to Yarmouth. They took a tired old space and refreshed it.”

Robert Brochu, of Portland, agreed.

“I think it has a great community feel, and it has a great rustic look,” he said.

The second-floor conference room overlooks the cafe area, with exposed wooden beams and tall ceilings extending up to the second floor, and large sliding windows that gives the space an open and connected feel. The windows, which roll to the left and right on a track, can also be shut for a quieter atmosphere upstairs.

The conference room is free to reserve by anyone who needs meeting space for a group or organization. Groups can reserve the space through an online booking system in 30-minute blocks for a maximum of two hours at a time, although this feature won’t be available until March 1.

The room has a large conference table, which seats 10 people, as well as four armchairs. There is also a flat-screen TV mounted on the wall that can be used for presentations or conference calls.

The downstairs area of the carriage house, which seats up to 32 people, is a place for people to have coffee or snacks in the morning through mid-afternoon. It opens at 6 a.m., and then around 4:30 p.m. is used as a dining area, with waitstaff for Otto customers for the rest of the night.

“I think it’ll be great for people in the local community, plus when tourists come for the clam festival,” former Yarmouth resident Steve Goodwin said Monday night. “This will be a gold mine.”

Ireland took the large crowd of people on Monday night as a sign of future success and of the town’s acceptance of the space despite the major change.

“I thought it was indicative of Yarmouth’s strength as a community and their excitement for a village store,” he said.

The store and the carriage house are for the residents and there to serve them, Ireland said, and he thinks they realize that.

“That’s why 400 people show up,” he said. “It’s their space. They’re claiming it.”

Up next is the hardscaping and landscaping that will be completed this summer. Ireland said he wants to create a nice outdoor area, possibly with a fire pit, where people can gather.

“We’ve always wanted people to see this as an extension of their office space, living room, or kitchen,” Ireland said. “We’re just neighbors inviting our neighbors in.”

Kate Gardner can  be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or kgardner@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

Handy’s Market and Cafe customers look down from the new Community Board Room at Handy’s new carriage house on Monday in Yarmouth.

Handy’s Market and Cafe building owner Sean Ireland created a conference room in the new carriage house addition so community members and organizations can have a space to meet in Yarmouth.

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I'm a reporter for The Forecaster covering Freeport, Yarmouth, Chebeague Island, and Cape Elizabeth. I'm from a small town in NH no one's ever heard of. When not reporting, I can be found eating pasta and reading books, often at the same time.