3 openings add to South Portland food scene
SOUTH PORTLAND — Two new restaurants and the expansion of a third are providing more breakfast, lunch and dinner choices as of this week.
Little Bigs, featuring doughnuts, meat pies and other baked goods to be enjoyed without utensils, opened at 340 Main St. near Cash Corner on Thursday.
Elsmere BBQ & Wood Grill will open at 448 Cottage Road this weekend, adding more flavor to the array of restaurants on Meeting House Hill.
And after 2 1/2 years of anticipation, Tony's Donuts has arrived at 1059 Broadway.
Little Bigs owners Pamela Fitzpatrick and James Murray Plunkett are city newcomers, a married couple merging their talents in a take-out spot near the intersection of Main Street and Broadway.
"I've been a chef for 30 years, (Pamela) is a baker, we marry in the middle," Plunkett said Wednesday.
The couple's products promise abundant flavor in old-fashioned cake doughnuts and meat pies like pasties, calzones and empanadas.
“I've been opening bakeries for 20 years, but when you are doing it for for yourself, it is a world of difference," Fitzpatrick said.
The menu will consist of about eight varieties of doughnuts, five meat pies, a vegetarian offering, and several sweet hand pies for desserts.
"I really bring in powerful flavors, I like things that have the same kind of 'pow' as a starburst," Murray said as he stirred his Texas-style chili for one of the meat pies.
Across town, Texas is a main theme at Elsmere, serving wood-fired barbecue in the former Pratt Abbott dry cleaning store at the corner of Cottage Road and Elsmere Avenue.
The building was originally an auto repair shop, said co-owner Adam Powers, and he and partner Jeremy Rush decided to give the restaurant a roadhouse feel, with a menu designed to suit families.
"The big thing about central Texas barbecue is it is all about the meat," Powers said Wednesday. The Lone Star feel is made all the more authentic because "Mama," a wood-fired meat smoker built by hand in Dallas, is out back.
Powers and Rush said the walkable, friendly feel of the neighborhood near Willard Square is a perfect fit for them, and they have been embraced from the start.
Ready to serve brisket and homemade sausage smoked for 10 hours or more, Elsmere is rooted in central Texas, but is not Texas-centric, Powers said.
Golden mustard and red pepper sauces are also available, and smoked portabella mushroom and black bean burgers are also on the menu. Wood-grilled oysters, raised in Scarborough, are a unique specialty.
"Barbecue is the American version of street food. It is folk food, our cuisine," Powers said.
Teased by customers about "sneaking in" to his new location near the corner of Broadway and Evans Street, Tony's Donuts owner Rick Fournier said customers can expect more of what has long been offered at his 9 Bolton St. location in Portland.
Tony's opened Monday with little fanfare, as Fournier wanted time to train new employees.
"It feels good, I've been breaking in everybody slowly," he said Thursday. "It is all about the flavor."
Known for hand-made and hand-cut doughnuts, whoopie pies and other pastries, Tony's was opened in 1965 by Fournier's father, Antonio Fournier.
He said the South Portland site, previously a gas station and unused for more than five years, drew his interest a long time ago.
"I was driving by here every day, just seeing the property empty and sitting here," he said.
Tony's will attract customers for taste and tradition, and because of the recent demise of a short-lived Frosty's Donuts shop further east on Broadway. But Fournier promises value, too.
"Our prices are the best in town," he said. "We keep it affordable for families."