From Buzz to Bee: Cape Elizabeth cafe gets new owner, focus on art

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CAPE ELIZABETH — After closing this spring, a popular local cafe is re-opening with a new owner, new concept and new name.

Paul Ramsden plans to open The Busy Bee at 327 Ocean House Road – the former Local Buzz – on Aug. 18.

His intent with the renovated space is to “bridge the gap between the art community with the retail and business community,” the Cape Elizabeth resident said.

Ramsden is a polymer engineer and owns Solapix in Lewiston, which manufactures and coats customizable photos and artwork.

He leased space last year next door to The Local Buzz – which provided light meals and drinks and a place to share conversation or listen to music – to use as an office for Solapix, to cut down on his commute, and said he never intended it for truly public use.

That will change when, alongside The Busy Bee, Hive Photo Factory will open as a photo-customization studio. Both the studio and cafe will be under the corporate umbrella of Solapix.

Ramsden’s plan is to knock down a wall to connect The Busy Bee with the Hive Photo Factory, to connect what he called “passion and profession.”

“One of my focuses is to work with aspiring artists,” Ramsden said. “Right now there’s a big divide where it’s very difficult for struggling artists to make a career because they can’t get their product into retail, which is where they need to be.”

While the front of The Busy Bee will serve “yummy drinks” and “fun food,” such as coffees, teas, gelato, pastries and smoothies, the rear and adjoining studio will allow customers to create their own photo products by offering onsite services, such as photo printing and customization.

“We’ll have the capability to help up-and-coming artists,” Ramsden said, noting that most of his staff will be trained and well-versed in Solapix photo and video editing and design software.

“We can give professional help to people who are trying to create a product and get them into the retail sector … (by) helping with their design and allowing them to see their product and be a part of it as it’s being created,” Ramsden added.

Ramsden said he wanted to offer those services in a really relaxed environment, which is why he chose to integrate a cafe into the “working design studio.”

“I want to get families and individuals in here to have a refreshment and then see what they can do with their photos,” he added. “Everyone is walking around with thousands of pictures and they never do anything with them.”

Photo products will be on display throughout the cafe and studio/lounge, which Ramsden said he hopes will inspire customers to “liberate their photos.”

Ramsden noted that the cafe side of the operation will offer a variety of foods for all palettes and preferences.

“This will be a place where dietary differences within a family or group isn’t going to stop them from coming here,” he said. There will be options for everyone from those on the Paleo diet to those intolerant of gluten.

“We’re going to try to accommodate all of that, but we’ll also definitely accommodate the sweet tooth,” Ramsden added.

As customers enter the cafe, they’ll also find a retail shop to their right, which Ramsden said will offer an array of Maine-made products from local artisans and craftsmen.

Ramsden, who grew up in London, envisions the retail space also serving as a tea room, where customers will be served a proper British tea. There will also be a designated area for kids to play.

The shop will be open 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Sundays; 6 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Wednesday; 6 a.m.-9 p.m. Thursday-Friday, and 7 a.m.- 9 p.m. Saturdays. Ramsden said he hopes the extended hours will allow time for early birds and night owls to come in, eat and work on their projects.

“The goal of it isn’t to only have a restaurant. If that was the only focus, I wouldn’t have done it,” Ramsden said. “The real goal is to work with artists.”

Jocelyn Van Saun can be reached at 781-3661, ext. 183 or jvansaun@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter @JocelynVanSaun.

Paul Ramsden plans to open The Busy Bee and Hive Photo Factory in Pond Cove Shopping Center at 327 Ocean House Road, Cape Elizabeth, on Aug. 18. The renovated space will serve as a cafe and photo design and customization studio.

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