Francis Gagnon, second from left, is opening a new restaurant in the Auburn Mall with his family where the former Papa Gino’s was located. From left to right are his son Steven, Gagnon, his father, Normand, Gagnon’s mom, Pierrette, for whom the restaurant is named, and Gagnon’s son Paul. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

AUBURN — Papa Gino’s was gone, and Francis Gagnon had always had an idea for a restaurant.

“Why hasn’t there been a Franco-American, traditional Quebecois-style foods (restaurant) in this area? You can go and find things locally, but there’s not one devoted to it,” Gagnon said of Lewiston. “Over the years, I’m kind of a foodie, I’ve developed a menu, just keeping track of things, ‘Oh, I wish I had this!'”

After checking out the Auburn Mall space with chef John Pulsifer and seeing the longtime pizza chain had left all of its kitchen equipment behind, Gagnon made an offer to management.

Pierrette’s C’est Si Bon Cafe will open this fall.

He and Pulsifer are co-owners. The restaurant, which will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, is named after Gagnon’s mother, Pierrette. Her father’s name was Pierre, and she was the oldest of 14 kids.

“She’s the inspiration behind it,” Gagnon said.

Pierrette and Gagnon’s father, Normand, moved down from Quebec.

Francis Gagnon’s mom, Pierrette, is the inspiration behind the French-infused restaurant going into the Auburn Mall. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

The restaurant name is also a partial nod to the C’est Si Bon Cafe that used to pop up during the Lewiston Franco-American Festival.

The menu will include tourtiere (pork pie), tourtiere turnovers, creton (pork spread for toast), French bread pizza and pizza with poutine on top.

On weekends, the restaurant will have a buffet with a french toast, crepe and waffle bar, with a chef.

“They’ll make it customized right in front of you,” he said. “Everything will be French-infusion.”

There will also be a sandwich bar, pastries and plenty of grab-and-go foods including prepackaged salads.

A beer and wine bar will continue the Franco theme with Labatt, Molson and Unibrew.

Pulsifer is a chef at the Gendron Franco Center, and he has been a chef for 47 years at a Poland girls’ summer camp, Gagnon said.

Gagnon has hired a manager for Photo Finish, his other business, also in the Auburn Mall, so he can devote time to the restaurant.

Gagnon’s parents and sons were busy at the space Thursday, changing it from the classic Italian look to blues and grays.

“We really want to honor the Franco-Americans in this community,” Gagnon said.

There will also be some typical fare on the menu — sandwiches, burgers — but he is hoping people who order will be dining with others who are already fans of Franco-American food or more adventurous and willing to give it a bite.


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