BREWER — By the end of February, Brewer should be home to a natural foods grocery store.

Sarah Morneault and Lindsey Levesque, former co-workers at Sea Dog Brewing Co. in Bangor, are hard at work inside 20 S. Main St. in Brewer, formerly a discount furniture store and before that a Brooks Pharmacy.

“It’s going to be a small locally-sourced — wherever possible — natural foods store,” Levesque said.

Their store, Tiller & Rye, will offer “humanely raised” meat, fresh produce and other fare one would expect to find at a grocer. The foods will be “free from harmful additives” and there will be options for people with dietary restrictions, including gluten-free varieties and meat and dairy alternatives. The store also will stock its shelves with artisanal cheeses, bulk spices and grains, wine and craft beer.

The project has been in the works since last spring, when the pair began seeking out a location and a $50,000 grant from the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development, which they were awarded.

Work at the 9,500-square-foot site started earlier this month, with crews tearing up the floor and clearing out the building to start a clean slate.


Morneault also has a management degree from the University of Maine at Orono, and Levesque is a farmer, raising pigs, chickens and turkeys at her home on outer Ohio Street in Bangor. The two have been friends for about 15 years and worked together at Sea Dog for more than a decade.

Two years ago, they started talking about getting together to start a business making goat milk products. But the more they talked with people, they said, the more demand they heard for local, natural goods.

In a way, the store will operate as a sort of year-round farmers market, relying on the area’s larger farms to keep a steady flow of the most popular goods, while smaller-scale farms also will have the chance of putting their products on shelves.

“There are a lot of excited farmers out there,” Levesque said.

Morneault and Levesque said the store supports farmers markets and will advertise them inside the store, but Tiller & Rye will be another vehicle for farmers that is open throughout the week and throughout the seasons when markets can be hard to find.

The store also will feature a small cafe and drive-thru. Eventually, that drive-thru could be open to online shoppers, who could place their shopping list online and pick it up later that day. That system will take more time to set up, Morneault said.

Morneault said that future customers can make requests for what farms and what products they’d like to see stocking shelves and freezers via the Tiller & Rye website.

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