LEWISTON — Forage Market, a grocery store, cafe and bakery, opened on lower Lisbon Street on Saturday, after a year in the making.
"When I first came into the space with Allen, the ceiling was flaking off. That hole right there used to be an elevator shaft," said Cody LaMontagne of Sumner, co-owner with Allen Smith of Greene. "I tiled this. I had never tiled anything before in my life."
The two aimed to create an inviting space with fresh produce, chilled cases with local and regional meats and cheeses, a long coffee list and a bakery built around a wood-fired brick oven in the basement. There are a few tables for dining and more shelves offer crackers, bulk flour, local beans and grains. Refrigerator cases are stocked with Balfour Farm organic milk, buttermilk, cultured cream and other dairy products.
They wanted a market "so someone could come here and grocery shop," LaMontagne said. "People walk in, they're, 'Wow, I can't believe you guys did this, and thank you for doing this.'"
She plans ever-changing lunch offerings, and expects to announce the next day's menu the night before on social media, taking advantage of the fresh and local products in her own market. On Tuesday, it was organic wood-fired roasted chicken salad on a bagel with local greens or a sandwich of tempeh and portabella mushroom marinated and grilled, both with fresh sunflower sprouts. Prices ranged from $7 to $8. She said she hopes to start offering salads and soups as well.
Evening meals to go are in the works.
"We've seen a surprising array of people," LaMontagne said. "Last night, we had a woman grab 15 different cheeses out of the cheese case for a meeting."
Wood-fired bagels are ready as soon as the doors open. Smith, in the bakery, also makes scones, croissants and sticky buns.
LaMontagne said their staff of 10 had been instrumental in prepping the space. Forage's new barista is a Bates College professor whose passion is coffee, she said.
"I can't really express, it would be impossible to do without them," LaMontagne said. "It's been really special."