Jeff Bailey adds apple wood he soaked in pimento to his wood pile as he builds a fire in one of his smokers at the corner of Acadia Avenue and Lisbon Street in Lewiston on Monday morning. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

This week the Buzz is cooking — hot real estate, hot ideas and hot jerk chicken.

The owner of the Caribbean Life Grocery store in Lewiston and her husband have started Jeff’s Jamaican Cuisine, a food trailer that Sophia Bailey hopes broadens local palates.

Giulia Tresca serves a meal from Jeff’s Jamaican Cuisine on Lisbon Street Monday where the overwhelming demand has changed their hours to 3 to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. They have three pits they use to keep the meats separated and flavored properly. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

For now, it’s parked in the parking lot at 940 Lisbon St. Her theory: Give their food a try, then, head into the grocery store to make it yourself at home.

“What we’re trying to accomplish is a total Caribbean experience,” she said. “A lot of people have never tried Caribbean food, so they’re not going to come in the grocery store just to buy the spices.”

Bailey said she and husband Jeff, a longtime chef, had a food kiosk in the Freeport Public Market for just over a year that closed at the start of the pandemic.

Transitioning to a mobile unit that can someday hit fairs, food truck festivals and be hired out for catering made a lot of sense.

It opened Thursday to an overwhelming response, she said. “They were clamoring for everything — the oxtail, the jerk pork and the jerk chicken. . . . The jerk is the method and the spices that we use to cook it. Jerk chicken is cooked on a grill, over charcoal and we season it with local herbs and authentic Jamaican spices. It’s a smoky, zesty flavor.”

The menu will change seasonally. In addition, there’s “Anything Wednesday,” adding dishes to the regular menu like curry chicken and jerk lobster.

Jeff’s Jamaican Cuisine is open from 3 to 10 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday. Bailey said they plan to add lunch as well as delivery. Now, meals are takeout.

“I think with a pandemic, you have to be adaptable to changes because nothing is constant,” Bailey said. “We adapted to that situation. I didn’t have any reservation at all — we’re either able to bring the food to the people or they can come and pick up.”

And speaking of food . . .

The Midtown Athletic Club is moving from 45 Walnut St. to 875 Lisbon St., into the former Pepper & Spice Thai Cuisine. (That restaurant closed abruptly in 2017.)

Manager and club President Carol LeBlanc said she worked with the city to find available space for the members-only club that was larger and outside of a residential area.

Between Del’s Bar & Grill, which her mother ran, and Midtown Athletic Club, born out of Del’s, they’ve been downtown about 35 years, she said.

The Walnut Street location closed last week and she’s hoping to open Sept. 1 on Lisbon Street.

“I’m absolutely overjoyed — it’s twice the size,” LeBlanc said.

And speaking of things to come . . .

Four entrepreneurs from Top Gun LA will offer up their best why-you-should-fund-my-idea pitches during the Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce breakfast Sept. 10.

Breakfast will be held outdoors at the Poland Spring Resort with up to 100 people in-person and others attending virtually.

Top Gun LA kicked off in January with nine participants from eight companies, everything from a dog groomer looking to grow to Sophia Bailey at Caribbean Life Grocery Store, looking to expand that shop.

Chamber organizer Scott Benson said the program, a series of lessons and mentoring, was halfway through when the pandemic struck and moved online. The regional pitch-off was due to be held in May but the pandemic both pushed the timeline back and cut down the number of participants.

“Unfortunately, for some of the entrepreneurs in our group, the pandemic really presented challenges to their business concepts that in the end were too much to overcome,” Benson said. “Some of our entrepreneurs had event-based business concepts that were suddenly dealing with limitations, and downright prohibitions, on in-person gatherings. Others were unable to continue with the program due to the demands of managing their day jobs, child care, etc. that they simply could not make the commitment necessary to continue.”

Four kept at it and have had a few extra months to refine their pitches.

One local winner will be chosen the morning of the breakfast and go off to the statewide pitch-off Sept. 23, competing with five other regional winners for a $25,000 grand prize.

Merrill Hill in the wintertime, the site of Sunday River Resort’s new chairlift-serviced housing lots that go on the market next month. Submitted photo

New mountain builds

Sunday River Resort on Monday announced details for two major real estate ventures at the Newry resort: the new Merrill Hill development with “21 mountain-top chairlift-serviced home sites” and 22-slopeside condominiums at Dream Maker Lodge.

Construction on both starts next year, according to a news release. The new lift will be installed in the summer of 2022.

At Merrill Hill, available lots range from 2 acres to 5.9 acres, according to spokeswoman Karolyn Castaldo. “People will be able to build anything they want, though there will be some building standards to adhere to.”

They’re priced from $400,000 to $1 million-plus.

The new condominiums, between $1.4 million for a four-bedroom penthouse and $580,000 for a two-bedroom unit, are available first-come, first-served starting next month.

Due to the level of interest in the Merrill Hill lots, $20,000 nonbinding refundable deposits are being taken for one week next month through Sunday River Real Estate and names will go in a lottery to determine the order that buyers get to pick, according to the release.

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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