Distillery expanding to serve food in Freeport

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FREEPORT — Maine Craft Distilling is planning a small expansion  with an eye to the future of its home base in Portland.

The tasting room, at 7 Mill St., will expand to the building’s second floor next month. The project will allow the company, which makes “locally crafted spirits,” to sell food and host events.

“The idea is to have some food offerings,” operations manager Todd Bernard said. “This will be an ideal location for pop-up events or private events.”

Maine Craft Distilling, which was founded four years ago and opened a Freeport location two years ago, has operated on the first floor of the Freeport space. The company has always owned the space above, but didn’t have the means to utilize it.

“It was a matter of it being a small, growing company,” Bernard said.

The space, which already has a bar and kitchen area, will be able to seat 20 people. Bernard said four to six people will be hired, depending on the season.

The food options will start simply, Bernard said, and hopefully a full menu will be rolled out by next summer.

“I think our menu wouldn’t be full plates, but a menu of strong bar snacks and oysters,” he said of the initial offerings.

Patrons will order food at the bar and then find a seat, Bernard said. There will be no table service. The idea is to create a casual, fun environment that will appeal to the many tourists and residents who spend time in Freeport.

“I want to design it so it’s family friendly,” Bernard said. “Hopefully there’ll be offerings that’ll connect with everyone.”

Expanding the Freeport location is the beginning of a larger project Maine Craft Distilling is working on, Bernard said. The company is also moving its Portland operation from Fox Street to Washington Avenue.

Bernard said the move in Portland will allow the company to expand production and serve food. He said the Freeport expansion will serve as a “beta for Portland.”

“I’m excited for (the Freeport) space because I feel like it’s a small, fun test kitchen to see what works for products,” he said.

Bernard said the Portland expansion of Maine Craft Distilling is still in the early planning stages and few details are available. The hope, he said, is to open on Washington Avenue next spring.

The goal behind both expansions is to create an experience that goes beyond drinking, he said.

“When you’re enjoying the product of Maine Craft Distilling, it’s a good opportunity to pair it with food,” Bernard said. “It’s the experience of eating and drinking and coming together.”

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

Todd Bernard, the operations manager of Maine Craft Distilling, said the company’s Freeport expansion is the beginning of a larger project in the works at its Portland location.Maine Craft Distilling’s Freeport location on Mill Street will be expanding to its second floor with the goal of adding food options and offering event space.

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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.