Yarmouth developer sees community in pizza, coffee, groceries, ice cream

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YARMOUTH — Although the new Andy’s Handy Store will house a variety of businesses, the owners say they aren’t trying to create a public market.

Instead, Sean Ireland wants to provide Yarmouth with a community space that will meet various needs.

Ireland and his cousin Amy Ireland are partnering with Otto Pizza and Hilltop Coffee to achieve their goal. The market will also sell groceries and have an ice cream window.

“There was a lot that went into finding the right partnership, because we didn’t want this to be like a Portland Public Market or a Freeport Public Market,” Sean Ireland said. “It was a matter of co-branding, it was a matter of similar interest.”

The market, at 367 Main St., was bought by the Irelands last winter, and renovations are expected to be completed in June. The two said they want the space to be “seamless,” with the different vendors complementing each other, rather than competing for business.

“It’s an aesthetic,” Amy Ireland, who will be running the grocery, said. “We didn’t want it to be choppy. We want it to be one unit.”

Sean Ireland said many businesses were considered for partnerships, but they tried to be selective about who was chosen.

“As we were looking to attract partners, we didn’t want more than three because we didn’t want it to be food court-like,” he said.

Ireland said it was important for the space to have “a real synergy” and to feel “community based.”

That’s what made the store appealing to Portland’s Hilltop Coffee. 

“What drew us to Handy Andy’s is it seemed like a very local- and community- and neighborhood-focused project,” Hilltop Coffee owner Guy Hernandez said. “We’re really invested in building a business that serves the needs of our neighborhood. While Yarmouth isn’t our neighborhood, we feel we can serve a need.”

Hernandez said he and his wife, and business partner, Stella Hernandez plan to serve Hilltop Coffee’s full menu at Andy’s Handy Store. He said he thinks his shop will work well with the others in the store because it means there will be something for everyone.

“I think the diversity of businesses is in some ways one of its greatest strengths,” Hernandez said. “I think all those different things lend themselves to gathering people, and the idea Sean came to us with was a gathering place. That’s what builds a community.”

Eric Shepherd of Portland-based Otto agreed.

“We really like the idea of the communal nature,” Shepherd, Otto’s director of marketing and communications, said. “The fact that we can all share one space makes it much more appealing.”

Shepherd said the owners weren’t looking to expand Otto, but were drawn to Yarmouth’s village feel. With locations in Portland, South Portland, and in and around Boston, Shepherd said Otto is looking forward to having its first small-town shop.

There will also be a seating area in the store later this year, which will be used exclusively by Otto in the late afternoon and evening. Earlier in the day it will be available to anyone to sit, have coffee or baked goods, or get some work done (Wi-Fi will be available).

Sean Ireland said work will begin on this area, which will be part of a two-story carriage house, in September and finished within eight to 10 weeks. Until then, outdoor seating will be available on the side of the store facing East Elm Street.

On the second floor of the carriage house will be open meeting space that will be available for meetings. Ireland said he is unsure how he will schedule and manage the room, but he knows he wants it to be a resource for the community. 

“We want it to be available at low to no cost for many of the local nonprofit and community-based organizations that exist and thrive in the community,” he said.

While there are already places in Yarmouth to get pizza, coffee, and groceries, and residents can use the third floor of Merrill Memorial Library as a meeting space, Ireland said he’s hoping to create something new by bringing all of those things together in one place.

Combined with Andy’s Handy Store’s reputation as a go-to downtown spot, he said he hopes the store can become a vital part of the town.

“We’re trying to embrace what’s best about Handy Andy’s and honoring that tradition,” Sean Ireland said. “But we also want to try to meet the needs that weren’t being met in the village.”

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

Sidebar Elements

Eric Shepherd of Otto Pizza, left, Sean Ireland, and Amy Ireland are redesigning Andy’s Handy Store on Main Street in Yarmouth.

The first phase of renovations are expected to be complete next month at Andy’s Handy Store on Main Street in Yarmouth.

A conceptual sketch of a side view of Andy’s Handy Store facing East Elm Street shows the carriage house to the left and the ice cream window to the right.

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.