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New businesses we're buzzing about in 2012

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Frock Affair 

BANGOR - If the temperatures aren't putting you in a spring-like mood, then the colors bursting from inside the new Frock Affair retail store on Main Street in Bangor sure will. This retail co-op combines the styles and tastes of four trendy women to create one unique slice of paradise that'll leave any clothing, jewelry, handbag and shoe-loving female shopper thirsting for more.

"These are our personalities. We wear this stuff. We love it. It represents us," said Susan Stephenson, co-op participant. "And this all came together four or five weeks ago."

Frock Affair, which opened at the beginning of April inside the former Bella Luna store, combines designer apparel with the often Maine-made creations of Jessi Sader of FX Dressed, Meg Asher of Local Color in Northeast Harbor, Katherine Loblein of Katwalk in Belfast and Susan Stephenson, Bangor blogger and creator of the Dress to Impress project.

"Jessi is our fearless leader. She makes her own shirts and dresses. She's planning on doing a monthly featured print, and if you pre-order that print, you'll get a discount," said Stephenson.

By creating four separate kiosks inside the one store, these fashionistas are able to share their own personal flair and wardrobe favorites with shoppers.

"And it's a way of not having one person bear the entire burden of cost," explained Stephenson while restocking her kiosk area with new shiny bracelets and earrings. "Our goal is to have posters [inside the store] that will distinguish between designers."

From bright pink handbags to belts, scarves, jeans and tank tops, there is a little bit of everything inside Frock Affair, none of which is mass produced.

"I feel like I'm a kid in a candy store," said shopper Wanda Dove of Hampden. "I love candy as much as I love jewelry, and today I'm walking out with at least three bracelets and a pair of earrings."

Once the items are sold, some will be restocked while others will make way for brand new items.

"We want to bring a variety of styles to downtown Bangor and a fun, local shopping experience," said Stephenson. "Frock Affair is for women of all tastes and styles."

The co-op is planning on setting up a registry for customers and a seamstress will be on hand Thursdays to do alteration work and tailoring.

"We'll not only have a registry but also wish lists so customer's spouses, partners, or other loved ones and friends can come and pick up an item for that person for their birthday or Christmas."

Frock Affair is open Tuesday-Saturday 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Moe's Bar B Que

BANGOR - Looking for some real southern barbeque? Look no further than Moe's Bar B Que on Broadway in Bangor. The restaurant opened Friday to a line of hungry locals who couldn't wait to get a taste of the menu's pulled pork, jambalaya and corn bread.

"I just about fell over when the first customer came in," said Owner Dewey Hasbrouck. "I couldn't even remember what was on the menu."

Each day, Hasbrouck and his staff place pork, turkey, ribs, chicken and chicken wings in the restaurant's smoker, all of which can be made into a tasty sandwich - or a platter for those with a bigger appetite.

On this particular day, the restaurant is filled with men ordering pulled pork sandwiches, sweet potato Jo-Jos (also known as potato wedges to New Englanders) and coleslaw.

"Men will eat anything. In the South, [BBQ] is just as big with women. Grandmas, mothers, wives will all talk about the quality of a good pulled pork sandwich," explained Hasbrouck. "Up here it's going to be a bit of a learning curve."

Moe's Bar B Que was originally created by three Alabama college friends who had a handful of old southern recipes. The trio opened their first restaurant in Colorado in 2001. Since then, franchises have popped up all over Colorado, as well as in Alabama, North Carolina and Georgia.

"I called the guys and asked what they thought about a Maine franchise, and they said, 'Go for it,'" said Hasbrouck. "I always loved the food, but I had no idea it was going to have such a role in my life."

Hasbrouck, who used to earn a living through medical sales, admits he hadn't worked in the food industry in over 20 years. But this southern style barbeque was just the ticket that enabled him and his family to return to his home state, where they've been hard at work. For months they've been revamping the former Broadway KFC into the Moe's Bar B Que that you see today.

"I tried to give it a laid back feel. I gave it a new look with the counter and I put in a three-seated bar where my buddies could hang out when they came," said Hasbrouck. "My wife took pictures all around Alabama of barbeque places that we have hanging up, and she chose the paint."

Surprisingly though, Hasbrouck's wife is a vegetarian, something that he made sure to keep in mind when putting together the menu.

"We have a smoked tofu sandwich she said is awesome, and our vegetables are pretty healthy," said Hasbrouck.

Barry & Gladys Knowles of Hermon stopped in for a meal the day Moe's opened.

"Oh my gosh it's good," said Gladys. "I got the pulled pork sandwich with beans and coleslaw."

"I got the same thing but with jambalaya," said Barry. "The jambalaya is tangy, but it's supposed to be. It's fabulous. I highly recommend it."

And that is the precise reaction Hasbrouck is hoping all his customers have when they taste his food.

"Everyone seems to be enjoying it," he said.

Hasbrouck is looking forward to sharing his southern style cooking with even more people at this year's American Folk Festival.

"I filled out the paperwork already for the folk festival," said Hasbrouck.

Those who can't wait that long can stop by Moe's anytime for lunch or dinner. The restaurant is planning to be open seven days a week.

Eat more cheese

BELFAST - Downtown Belfast is turning cheesy thanks to Tony and Natalia Rose, who are opening a new cheese and specialty food shop next week called Eat More Cheese.

"We'll be focusing on bringing products to the area that you can't find in your typical grocery store or market. These are unique cheeses from around the world as well as New England," said Tony. "We'll have cheeses from across the spectrum from aged hard cheeses like gouda and parmesan to fresh goat cheese, burrata and brie cheeses."

When the doors open on April 17, there will be at least 40 varieties of cheeses to choose from. Tony and Natalia are hoping to eventually offer 100 varieties of cheeses along with wine, chocolate, fruit and other items that can be paired with them.

"One thing I considered when putting together this business model is with cheese you're not going to find an Amazon.com, Wal-Mart, or other big box store that'll replicate it. This is one of those unique businesses that can't be blown up to this grand scale," said Tony. "We felt this was a great destination for tourists, and Belfast has the largest food co-op in Maine which shows people are willing to pay a little more for a higher quality product."

Eat More Cheese is also a business Tony hopes will attract both inexperienced palates and food aficionados.

"I think a lot of cheese and wine shops are a little intimating to people, especially if you don't know a lot about it. I don't want anyone to feel that way. Even if they've never had anything but cheddar, we'd love to help them," said Tony.

Eat More Cheese is open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Last modified on Wednesday, 11 April 2012 12:47

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