Hallowed grounds: Iconic Portland coffee shop to close

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PORTLAND — After 14 years, the Udder Place on Brighton Avenue is closing.

“It’s a bittersweet thing,” owner Sam Lambert said.

Several years ago, after his wife gave birth to triplets, Lambert said he decided it was time to change careers. He got his real estate license and has been working for RE/MAX in Topsham. He and his family live in Bath.

“We have four children under the age of 4,” he said. “With the economic downturn, it just made sense to move on.”

So Lambert put the property on the market in 2010. He said he now has a buyer lined up, but would not say who it is until the deal is completed.

He did say, however, that the new owner will not be selling coffee.

The building at the corner of Stevens Avenue is technically a non-conforming use in the residential zone, so whatever the buyer does with it will have to be the same use or less intrusive than a coffee shop.

Lambert said he was retiring the Udder Place name along with the business. While he’s not certain when the shop’s last day will be, it’s likely to be at the end of January.

“I really appreciate the whole Deering neighborhood,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of great customers and I’ve gotten to know a lot of great folks through the business. Unfortunately, I had to change gears.”

In 2004 Lambert opened a drive-through Udder Place on Pleasant Street in Brunswick, but he said that business never made money. It was closed in 2007.

The purple coffee shop is an icon of the Deering/Rosemont neighborhood and has a devoted group of regulars.

“I told them I could give them the keys and they could just go in and make their own coffee,” Lambert joked Monday. “They’d probably do it.”

A few of the regulars and some Udder Place employees are hoping another coffee shop will open in the area, and are doing what they can to try to make that happen.

“It’s really been a community gathering place,” said Wendy Flynn, who lives down the street and frequently stops by the Udder Place for her morning coffee.

At the counter, as people wait for their coffee, they can sign up to receive emails about a possible new coffee shop for the area. Flynn said the list functions in two ways: it helps keep the neighborhood connected and it would show a potential investor or interested business owner that there’s a market in the neighborhood.

“People are concerned,” she said. “We all like our little Udder Place.”

Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or eparkhurst@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @emilyparkhurst.

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The Udder Place, 428 Brighton Ave., is closing after 14 years of selling coffee and pastries.

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