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Distinctive downtown dining

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Two new restaurants expand the scope of Bangor's offerings

Over these past few years, we've been privileged to witness the blossoming of Bangor a downtown renaissance of sorts. New businesses of all fashions and flavors are popping up left and right. It's a time of explosive, exciting growth.

Even so, when two new restaurants open up within two weeks of one another and less than a mile apart, it warrants mentioningespecially if each place brings something new and unique to the table. These establishments are each powered by passion and packed with offerings for every stripe; there's something for everyone.

Check out this brand-new pair of downtown dining destinations.

A restaurant for all Seasons

The idea of 'something for everyone' is a difficult one to realize especially with a restaurant. Meeting the needs of a wide-ranging clientele involves bringing together a wealth of diverse concepts in one place while still maintaining an overall coherency. It's an ambitious undertaking, to be sure.

Seasons on Main located in the old Miller's Restaurant building at 427 Main Street is just such an ambitious undertaking; a combination of interesting ideas. Looking for a place to have a beer and watch the big game? Check out the Seasons sports lounge. Do you want a quiet, elegant dining experience? Have a seat in their dining room. Are you in need of a space for a party or corporate function? Seasons has space for that as well.

There's more to come, too the Sage Caf and Bakery is set to open soon, offering breakfast and lunch with an international flairnot to mention an assortment of cakes, pies and pastries.

And the cherry atop the Seasons sundae is the radio show 'Downtown with Rich Kimball,' which broadcasts from inside the restaurant you can literally watch as Kimball works his magic over the airwaves every weekday from 4 to 6 pm.

As with any project of this scope, the evolution has been ongoing.

'The idea was initially all sports when we first started talking about it four years ago,' said chief executive officer Jim Churchill. 'It was focused on sports with the media element, but once we started seeing the traffic and energy, the concept grew.

'There are a lot of sports fans around, but there are also a lot of people who might sometimes want a more serene dining atmosphere. With the space that we have, we can offer that.'

And Seasons offers space a-plenty. The two distinct areas offer a sort of one-stop shop for any sort of wining/dining experience you might be looking for. Plus, it's a great location to take advantage of Bangor's cultural growth.

'There's a real excitement building,' Churchill said. 'The casino, the Waterfront Concerts, the new Cross Insurance Center; we're well positioned [amidst] all of it. And we see a lot more to come in the future.

'The great thing about this spot is its accessibility to everything. This is an iconic location that has been successful for decades. We're very happy to step in and carry on that tradition of success.'

It's tough to overstate the diversity of options at Seasons. You've got the main dining room, of course, with a nicely subdued atmosphere. Then there's the lounge which features 22 televisions - where you can sit at the granite-top bar, on one of the assorted couches and love seats, or at one of the many high-top tables or booths. The lounge is also where you can come watch the 'Downtown' show being broadcast. And with the opening of Sage, there will be another 50 seat area along with outdoor patio seating come springtime.

'A person could come in seven days a week and feel like they were in a different place each day,' Churchill said.

Churchill also talked about the restaurant's focus on the customer.

'We've kept our ear to the ground,' he said. 'We're listening to the customers very intently; it's a big part of what we do. We've discovered what menu items are popular. We'll be adding some things, simplifying some things. We're also going to have specials in the dining room that will roll with the changing of the seasons.

'It's a great way for us to cover all the demographics that we're trying to reach, as well as allowing us to expand our horizons and the horizons of our customers.'

In addition to the 75 person function room (which is already booking for holiday parties; slots are still available), Seasons will be opening a 5000 square foot space for larger functions in 2013.

'It's a big operation, so we're being careful to take it one stage at a time,' Churchill said. 'It's all about the finishing touches now; we're very happy with our soft opening and looking forward to a grand Grand Opening.''

(Seasons on Main's dining room hours are 11:30 am to 9:00 pm and the lounge is open from 11:30 to close. Sage Caf and Bakery will operate from 7 am to 3 pm. Seasons is open seven days a week; you can find them on Facebook.)

Gather, eat and be merry 11 Central

The new downtown eatery 11 Central appropriately located at 11 Central St. in downtown Bangor is the sort of place that tightrope-walks the line between elegance and accessibility.

It's a beautiful space, all exposed brick walls and hardwood floors, with a subdued subtlety that in some ways belies the good-time nature of the restaurant and its owner-operators.

Ann Marie Orr has been operating the very successful Ann Marie's Kitchen for a number of years, providing catering and other food-related services. (In point of fact, Ann Marie catered my own wedding this summer. Ever been to a wedding of 200 where no one complained about the food? Neither had I until my own.) Brett Settle has owned Giacamo's for the past few years and transformed the place into one of the foundational cornerstones of downtown Bangor.

These two local fixtures have come together to create 11 Central.

'Ann and I had been talking about doing something for about three years,' Settle said. 'It was always in the back of our minds. When this place opened up [this time], we wanted to make our move.'

'It really was like the universe opened up and allowed us to make it happen,' added Orr.

And make it happen they did.

'We wanted this to be a place to gather, eat and be merry,' Orr said. 'It's about having fun; it's about the experience. We want people to really enjoy themselves.'

The fun experience includes among other things not being bound by the menu.

'We want to give people what they want,' said Settle. 'One of our big things from the beginning is that if it's in the house, we will do it. Everything we do is made fresh and to order, so we have that flexibility.'

Both Orr and Settle are thrilled to be part of the growth of downtown Bangor and expanding the community's options.

'We're big fans of downtown,' said Orr. 'We're [doing things like] staying open until 10 for food, doing pizzas and light fare late nights on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. We're also open on Sunday and Monday evenings. It's all about the desires of the community.'

An interesting note with regards to 11 Central's seating policies is that they don't take reservations. It turns out that they've got some pretty strong feelings about it.

'If you take a reservation at 5, you can't book that table again until 6:30,' said Settle. 'If they leave early, you've got tables left unoccupied. It's limiting to [the customer] and to the restaurant.

'With a lot of places, if you don't plan ahead, you just can't get a seat. Here, we can just let people stroll in.'

'And if you come down and there's nothing here,' added Orr, 'we want you to go ahead and find another place. Go have a drink; we'll call you when your table is ready.'

There is a wide array of offerings on the menu, with something for most every taste, but Orr has a distinctive attitude about her recommendations.

'It's all about what the customer likes and we'll design it around them,' she said. 'I like to find out what they like and then take them off the beaten path a bit.'

11 Central is the culmination of months of serious work, not just by Orr and Settle, but their friends, families and staff as well. From the beginning of February to their late October opening, everyone was going full-steam ahead. Orr's husband Mark Sampson of Collabric in Veazie was the primary contractor; as Orr put it, 'I gave him the dream and he made it happen.'

'We opened this place with what we wanted; it's not our first time,' Settle said with a smile.

'It's exactly what we dreamed of,' said Orr. 'We're really happy with the space. We're blessed with a great staff, a great design and phenomenal food.'

And as she looked out the huge front windows onto the street, she added:

'It's really fun to watch Bangor go by.'

(11 Central's hours of operation are from 4 pm to midnight, six days a week. They are closed on Tuesdays; look for them on Facebook.)

Last modified on Wednesday, 28 November 2012 22:14

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