Downtown Yarmouth market to add dining, meeting space

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YARMOUTH — Handy’s Market & Cafe has been a place where people come and go. Starting this winter, it will be a space for people to hang out, too.

When owner Sean Ireland bought and renovated the store at 367 Main St., formerly known as Andy’s Handy Store, earlier this year, he imagined it would eventually become a gathering place for the community.

His plan is now being realized, with a carriage house being built behind the store.

“When we first started this project there was really no meeting space in Yarmouth besides the library,” Ireland said. “We wanted to fill that need.”

The carriage house will have Wi-Fi, cafe-style seating on the first floor, and a “community board room” upstairs. Ireland said the building, which will be accessible from the store and also have its own entrance facing East Elm Street, should be completed in late December.

The conference room will be free to reserve by anyone who needs meeting space for their group or organization. Groups will be able to reserve the space through an online booking system in 30-minute blocks for a maximum of two hours at a time.

The room will have a large conference table, which will seat 10 people, as well as some “soft seating,” according to Ireland. There will also be a flat-screen TV mounted on the wall that can be used for presentations or conference calls.

Ireland hopes the carriage house will be utilized by organizations that don’t have physical office spaces.

“I think Yarmouth has a tremendous amount of community-oriented organizations, but there’s not a lot of places to meet,” he said.

The carriage house is being funded by Gorham Savings Bank, although bank officials declined to disclose the building cost. According to Kim Donnelly, senior vice president and director of business banking, and Chief Banking Officer Eric Andrews, the cost was “part of the bank’s marketing budget.”

“Without having these guys on board, we likely would have charged folks to use the (community board room),” Ireland said.

Gorham Savings Bank, which is also the market’s commercial lender, will have an ATM in the entrance to the carriage house. Aside from the bank’s interest in growing its Yarmouth customer base, Andrews said he’s glad to be working with such an “iconic” location in town.

“We’re excited to be part of this,” Andrews said. “It’s a unique fixture in the community.”

The bank arrangement continues a trend for Handy’s, which already had partnerships with Hilltop Coffee and OTTO pizza.

The downstairs area of the Carriage House, which will seat up to 32 people, will be a place for people to have coffee or snacks in the morning through mid-afternoon. It will open at 6 a.m., and then around 4:30 p.m. will be used as a dining area, with waitstaff for OTTO customers for the rest of the night.

“We’ve had a blast doing slices and takeout, but we’re excited to have a place to serve people,” Alex Budd, district manager of OTTO, said.

Guy Hernandez, owner of Hilltop Coffee, said he’s also excited about the carriage house opening. There is a small seating area at the front of the market, but he said the carriage house will provide more of a community space for enjoying food, drinks, and other people’s company.

“All along the idea of this as a gathering space is what attracted us to the project,” Hernandez said.

Ireland said the integrity of Handy’s will be maintained in the carriage house and  he’s looking forward to it being a place for residents and others to use and enjoy.

“This really creates a community destination,” he said.

Hernandez agreed, saying the carriage house will strengthen the sense of community the market creates.

“To foster a sense of community you need a physical space to gather,” he said. “(Handy’s) is a place to stay now, with the carriage house.”

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

Sean Ireland, owner of Handy’s Market & Cafe in Yarmouth, is building a carriage house that will have cafe seating downstairs and a community meeting room above.

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.