Owner wants new Portland cafe to be a place where everyone knows your name

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PORTLAND — Tally’s Kitchen is the latest addition to a resurgent Bayside neighborhood.

At the cafe, which has been open about a month, owner Julie Taliento Walsh has created a sun-filled space intended to offer old-fashioned charm paired with a menu to appeal to today’s more sophisticated diners.

While the offerings include staple lunch-time favorites like a BLT or egg salad sandwich, customers can also order a California Club with avocado and chipotle mayo, a kale salad with goat cheese and apple cider vinaigrette or a veggie wrap topped off with a scoop of hummus.

Tally’s Kitchen at Bayside is at 84 Marginal Way, the same building that houses the Drummond Woodsum law firm and Intermed health practice. It’s across the street from Eastern Mountain Sports and nearby is the new Gorham Savings Bank Loan Center.

The neighborhood also includes Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, AAA, Fork Food Lab, Bayside Bowl and Chipotle. Not too far away is also the relatively new Leavitt & Sons Deli, which is on Kennebec Street.

The deli is headquartered in Falmouth and owner Peter Leavitt previously said he chose Bayside for a second location because it’s a neighborhood that’s “clearly on the upswing.”

“(My deli) and Bayside are a perfect match,” Leavitt said in January 2017. “I like the visibility there and the positive energy that is very obvious in that area.”

Walsh this week agreed with Leavitt’s assessment.

“I’m a Portland girl and I’m so excited to be part of Bayside’s revitalization,” she said. “Bayside is just booming right now. It’s so fun and exciting. I just love being part of this community.”

Walsh, who lives in Stroudwater, said she didn’t think too much about the competition when opening her new cafe, which for now is only open for breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday.

She said so far, “everyone around here has been so supportive” and felt strongly that she could get enough customers from the lawyers and doctors in the building to make opening her cafe worthwhile.

“I’m confident this is the right move,” Walsh said. “It’s just so exciting. We’ll have outdoor seating in the summer and the wheels are just really turning. There’s so many fun things we can do. I’m keeping all my options open.”

“My goal,” Walsh said. “Is to offer a good quality product that’s not outrageously priced. I’m offering good, solid food to the people in the building that haven’t had their own lunch spot for a long time.”

Walsh has an in-house baker, but she also buys bread at Botto’s Bakery on Washington Avenue, which is owned and operated by her uncle. In addition, Walsh gets her coffee products from Wicked Joe Organic Coffee, another Maine-based company.

Her plan is to source most of her produce locally, including area farmers markets, and to build mutually beneficial relationships with Fork Food Lab clients. Keeping up with “the whole vibe (here) is very important,” Walsh said.

She’s from a family that has deep ties to Portland, starting with the arrival of her great-grandparents, Luigi and Michelina Taliento, who moved to Maine from New York City in the early 1900s.

Walsh said her relatives have been in the food service business for several generations, including her father, who owned the former Federal Foods grocery stores. That’s why opening Tally’s Kitchen felt like “it was all meant to be,” she said. “I’m getting back to my roots.”

Prior to opening Tally’s, Walsh owned a cafe called The Lions Den, which was inside Catherine McAuley High School. For the past four years she ran a cafe, called Doc’ks, at Martins Point Health Care on Veranda Street.

Walsh said getting Tally’s Kitchen off the ground would not have been possible without all the help and support she’s received from her family, including her 84-year-old mother, who plans to work at the cafe when she returns from wintering in Florida.

“I’m a businesswoman, but Tally’s is really home to me. I love my customers and making people happy,” Walsh said. “I just love it here. The atmosphere is great and my customers and employees are like my family.”

“I want Tally’s to be an old-fashioned (neighborhood spot), where people can chat and where we’re not rushing people out the door. I want this to be a place where we start making your favorite sandwich before you even order it.”

Kate Irish Collins can be reached at 710-2336 or kcollins@theforecaster.net. Follow Kate on Twitter: @KIrishCollins.

Julie Taliento Walsh, owner of the new Tally’s Kitchen at Bayside, with a photo of her father, Michael. “Everyone tells me my father would be so proud,” Walsh said.

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