Eric Agren has heard it at least once a day for nearly a month.

“How’s that contest going?”

To ensure everything’s fair, the Fuel owner, who announced July 14 that he was letting his high-end French restaurant in Lewiston go to the person who pens the most compelling essay, says he has to be fairly tight-lipped.

Well, tight-lipped-ish.

“The thing people want to know is how many entries I have and I can’t disclose that — it could alter the outcome,” Agren said.

What he can say: “As far as we’re concerned, with my team, I think things are going well. People have been really receptive as far as understanding why I want to do this and understanding the model. It’s been good.”

The contest, which involves writing a 300-word essay and paying a $150 entry fee for a shot at more than $1 million in assets, including Fuel and its contents, has gotten lots of exposure on social media and in the Maine media. Agren will be on Maine Public Broadcasting’s “Maine Calling” show Tuesday to talk about it.

“Now we’re starting to get into the national scene. We have a plan in place,” Agren said.

The contest deadline is Oct. 14.

Lighting up

After 22 years in business on Sabattus Street, Lighting Concepts is opening its first satellite location in Portland with the hopes that it draws more people up this way.

The company, a lighting retailer and design center, is owned by brothers Ray and Mitch DeBlois. It plans to open at 344 Forest Ave., in a retail space with EcoHome Studio, in October.

“We actually have a relationship with several designers and architects in that market and just thought that it would be an added customer service for us to open up a small retail location for them to refer their customers,” said Peggy DeBlois, marketing director. “Customers from the Portland area are going to be encouraged to come up to Lewiston for the main flagship store. We’re hoping we can encourage them by offering some restaurant gift certificates, that sort of thing, to help them make a day out of it here in Lewiston-Auburn.”

Lighting Concepts has a dozen employees. DeBlois said it’s hiring more.

“We’re very excited about it,” she said. “We don’t want to run them as two separate businesses, so we plan to have our staff scheduled for different days of the week in our Portland store.”

First run

Volume 1, Issue 1 of the new, glossy “LA Metro Magazine” is out with Rancourt & Co. President Michael Rancourt on the cover.

Matt Leonard, president of the Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, said the magazine is jointly owned by the chamber and Mars Marketing.

More than 3,000 copies of the first, free issue were printed. Leonard hopes to make them available at 200 spots around the area.

Four issues are planned for next year: January, April, June and August.

“They should be finding them all over L-A,” Leonard said. “We’re hoping to grow and add a subscription service to it and really look for an opportunity to really talk about who we are as a community.”

Ready, aim, splash

Noticeably missing from Leonard at Thursday’s chamber breakfast: his beard.

Leonard, who has headed the chamber for just over a year and served in the Navy for two decades before that, started growing it back in January. (His beard even got a joking “this isn’t going anywhere” nod during his own chamber breakfast talk in May.)

“I basically shaved every day for 21 straight years, almost, and that includes being in Indonesia for tsunami relief in the middle of a swamp, having to wake up and shave with bottled water and a dry razor, so it was kind of refreshing to go some time without having to worry about shaving,” he said.

But then came the Maine summer heat and a date with a dunk tank and it was time for the beard to go.

Leonard will sit in the dunk tank from 4 to 4:30 p.m. Saturday during the second annual Summer Block Party to benefit Make-A-Wish Maine at Mac’s Grill in Auburn.

Last year, the event, with games, prizes and food, raised $13,000 for Make-A-Wish and paid for two wishes for local children. This year, they’re hoping to raise twice that. 

“We raised over $1,200 in the dunk tank last year. It raised a lot of money,” Leonard said. “I’d only been here a couple months last year and people were lining up, so I can only imagine what this year is going to look like.”

Quick hits about business comings, goings and happenings. Have a Buzzable tip? Contact staff writer Kathryn Skelton at 689-2844 or [email protected]


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