Aroma Joe’s franchise owner Tulio DeAlmeida talks with Central Maine Medical Center employee Jamie Childs at the Sabattus Street shop in Lewiston on Thursday afternoon where she received a free coffee. The Maine-based company has been offering free coffee to health care workers since March 16 in appreciation for their dedication during the coronavirus pandemic. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

This week, the Buzz’s heart is warmed by the prospect of development, free coffee, big tippers and butter worms.

A list like that, where to start?

Let’s ease in: St. Laurent Properties bought 5.32 acres at 25 Forrestal St. in Lewiston from Lewiston Industrial Park Inc. last month.

“The buyer was a local developer, Gary St. Laurent who owns St. Laurent and Sons Excavation and St. Laurent Properties,” said Nick Lucas, an associate broker at The Boulos Co. who brokered the sale. “He has a few different options for what he plans on doing with the site, however nothing finalized yet.”

The property, which is out by Mid Maine CPL and Maine Radiator Manufacturing, had been listed for $145,000 last year. The purchase price wasn’t available Thursday.

A tip of the hat


Two weeks ago, Gippers Sports Grill decided to offer takeout-only from its Auburn restaurant, enough to keep six or seven of its 43 employees busy, and said staff would pool tips to split with everyone.

This week, when out-of-work employees came in to pick up their last checks, some with only a few shifts on them, management split several thousand dollars’ worth of tips.

“They had tears in their eyes and they could not believe the generosity of our community,” said General Manager Jay Novella. “It was so nice for them and I’m sure it came at a great time of need.”

Local people and businesses have been phenomenally supportive, he said. Gippers will continue offering takeout as long as it’s able and continue splitting tips as long as it’s open.

“The police and fire department, the nurses are hungry and they’re just looking for a little bite before they go back,” Novella said.

And speaking of the frontlines


On March 16, Maine-based Aroma Joe’s decided chain-wide to start giving free cups of coffee to health care workers.

Maine’s served about 7,000 cups so far. Chain-wide, it’s 14,000 cups, according to a spokeswoman.

Aroma Joe’s has 68 locations in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Florida.

Tulio DeAlmeida, who owns franchises in Lewiston and Auburn, said the Lewiston location, just a few blocks from St. Mary’s Regional Medical Centerital, has been busy.

Doctors, nurses and other health care professionals are showing their work badges at the drive-thru for a free hot or cold 16 oz. coffee.

Health care workers pulling double shifts or picking up extra shifts caring for patients with COVID-19 “are working really hard during a difficult time for everybody,” DeAlmeida said. “It’s a little thing that we can do to help.”


Also helping? Free butter bugs

Last week, with Mr. Drew’s Exotic Rescue and Education Center shut down like other museums and centers during the coronavirus pandemic, and 150-plus animals on his hands, Drew Desjardins started daily blogs with creature lessons.

“I figured we are all in the same boat and we need our money for food and mortgage and bills, so I went live and free,” he said.

And the packages started rolling in, one to six a day from the center’s Amazon wish list, from strangers wanting to donate.

Bedding, food, vitamins, dish soap.

When the put out a call asking for rescues that could use a donation, about 100 people recommended him for that, too.


He opened a box from Dubia on Wednesday to find more than 2,000 live insects: More than a thousand roaches in different sizes, 500 meal worms, 200 super worms and 50 butter worms.

Turtles, spiders, lizards, frogs and toads will eat all of the above, Desjardins said.

“I just want to be a positive thing in this craziness,” he said. “Everyone is scared and kids really may not understand the seriousness of things, so I just want to help. My wife and I are truly in awe and thankful, for not only the Lewiston community, but the state and out-of-state support we have been getting. I honestly don’t feel that I should be getting this support when I know the need elsewhere is greater.”

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

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