Crooked Mile owner plans to rebuild Portland cafe

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PORTLAND — The walls came tumbling down Monday at the Crooked Mile Cafe at Stevens and Brighton avenues.

Yet the future is brewing at the coffee shop site, owner Joe McGonigle said as he watched excavator James Phelps raze the building city tax records say dates to 1950.

“We were always going to fix or rebuild it; there was never a thought otherwise,” McGonigle said. The cafe at 428 Brighton Ave. had been in business more than five years. There is also a Crooked Mile cafe on Milk Street in the Old Port.

The cafe, which in its history has served as a store or coffee shop, was struck by a car last October. The collision rendered the building unusable, and McGonigle said at least six employees lost jobs.

Definitive plans have not been filed with the city yet, but McGonigle said he hopes to reopen in late summer and has been working with Whitten Architects and Jim Francoeur of Servpro as his contractor.

The wrinkle in the rebuilding is the new Crooked Mile must be in the footprint of the old building, because it is a nonconforming use and also because the land it sits on is mostly ledge.

McGonigle said the intent is a building that fits in better in its residential setting, and likely add a peaked roof so snow will not pile up as much.

“It will be better looking,” he said. “We are also ready for better energy efficiency.”

Inside, the capacity will remain at the eight or nine tables allowed by zoning, and the food and drink choices will be unchanged.

“It will be exactly the same; it was built out the way we want,” McGonigle said.

McGonigle estimated 200 customers a day would make a quick stop for coffee, sandwiches and baked goods and he is ready to welcome them back.

“It is a great neighborhood and community,” he said.

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

Contractor Jim Francoeur, left, and Crooked Mile Cafe owner Joe McGonigle watch the cafe at 428 Brighton Ave., Portland, being torn down March 26. McGonigle said he hopes to reopen by late summer.

A crew from Phelps Excavation tears down the Cooked Mile Cafe at 428 Brighton Ave. on March 26 in Portland. The coffee shop was left unusable after it was hit by a vehicle last October.

Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.