This week the Buzz is so. Over. The. Snow. Let’s celebrate rice bowls and potholes, instead.

The back of the new box for Scott & Jon’s shrimp scampi pasta bowl. The Auburn brothers recently rebranded their Cheating Gourmet frozen food line, naming it after themselves and including a bit about themselves on the packaging. Submitted photo

Auburn natives Scott and Jon Demers launched their frozen food careers in 2012 with Crabbies, a cheesy crab meat ode to their grandmother, and two years later renamed their company Cheating Gourmet as they expanded the line and entered more stores.

Now, the brothers are on the box, they have renamed the company and they are nearly doubling their local workforce after attracting another round of capital investment.

The newly rebranded Scott & Jon’s is still headquartered in Auburn and has seven employees, with immediate plans to hire five more, Scott Demers said Monday.

Last year, the company raised more than $2 million, according to a story on ProjectNosh.com, and it raised another $800,000 last month, according to a story in Mainebiz.

The brothers remain majority owners with the titles of co-founder and co-president. The two investments allowed them to expand their market, according to Scott.

“We are now sold in almost every state,” he said. “There are many examples of growth almost on a weekly basis. Not only are we launching into great new retailers, like Target, we are increasing the number of offerings in each store.”

They changed the name, Scott said, to better “tell the story of the company, our history and our values.”

“We put a brief excerpt of who we are and our story on the back of each box,” he said.

“We are constantly innovating new items and flavors,” he added. “Our goal is to be the No. 1 frozen seafood entree brand in the country.”

Sew if you’re interested. …

After 63 years in business, Ron Blake and his wife, Lisa Cote-Blake, will close Cote Bros. Sewing Machines next

Ron Blake and Lisa Cote-Blake are closing Cote Bros. Sewing Machines after 63 years if they cannot find a buyer by May 9. Submitted photo

month unless a buyer comes through.

Lisa’s father and his brothers founded the business back in the day to serve the once-thriving shoe industry in Lewiston-Auburn.

The Blakes closed it once before, in 2008, selling the retail store, but the new business that took it over did not work out, and six months later, not wanting to leave his retail customers hanging, Ron Blake said they picked that end back up again, opening a shop in Turner.

They are closing for good, unless a buyer comes forward before a planned liquidation sale scheduled to begin May 9.

The retail business had five employees.

“It’s too bad because we had a very good year last year and sales are up 14% this year,” Blake said. “There’s still some very serious sewers out there where sewing is their passion, and some of them won’t hesitate to lay down $10,000 for a sewing machine.”

He said their biggest concern is it feels like they are abandoning the shop’s 13,000 customers.

Blake will continue to offer industrial sewing machine servicing on his own.

“I’m going to be 69 this year and it’s just become too much for me to do both,” he said.

So much investment

You see a permit for $39 million and cannot help but do a double take. Just some of the activity out of the Twin Cities’ code offices in March, according to city records:

  • Bates College’s contractor pulled a $39 million building permit for its new science and technology building at 45 Campus Ave. in Lewiston. Keep up with construction updates online.
  • A $380,000 office building is planned for 491 Washington St. N in Auburn, with Levasseur Landscaping as the contractor.
  • CVS is remodeling its interior and upgrading part of its parking lot in a $71,000 project at 8 Union St. in Auburn.
  • New England School of Metalworks is planning a $113,000 addition for its blacksmithing school at 7 Albiston Way in Auburn.
  • Custom Design & Restoration, LLC, is renovating 35 Laurel Ave. in Auburn to create 10 apartments in a $275,000 project.

So a car fell into a pothole. …

Gabriel Zacchai of Camden celebrates his Worst Road in Maine win in 2014 on a stretch of Route 15, from Blue Hill to Stonington. Submitted photo

This time of year, it is no joke: The Maine Better Transportation Association is once again holding its Worst Road in Maine contest. The winner gets $529, which the association says is the estimated amount residents pay in costs for extra maintenance and repairs from bad roads.

The statewide estimate is $541 million.

Spokeswoman Kathryn Buxton said the contest started in 2010 and the last time they held it, in 2014, Gabriel Zacchai of Camden won $296, a sign of how much costs have gone up. He nominated Route 15 from Blue Hill to Stonington that year.

The contest this year is focused on state highways, bridges and state-aid roads. Nominations, which include a story and picture, are due by May 1. See fixmainroads.org for more details.

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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