LEWISTON — A new craft brewery will open this spring on downtown Lisbon Street after winning a business incubator contest.

Rusty Bus Brewing Co. was announced the winner of the JumpstartME contest Thursday, an initiative launched in July by the Downtown Lewiston Association and LA Metro Chamber of Commerce.

According to a news release announcing the winner, the contest generated over a dozen applicants vying for a grand prize package valued at more than $80,000 in donated business services.

The brewery’s owners, Peter and Nicole Ouellette, had been searching for the right location in downtown Lewiston for several years, the release said. While craft brewing has been a longtime passion, Peter Ouellette has been managing Hudson Bus Lines for the past decade, while Nicole has been teaching at Farwell Elementary School in Lewiston for the past seven years.

Rusty Bus Brewing Co. will move into the vacant storefront at 120 Lisbon St. after winning the JumpstartME business incubator contest. Submitted photo

“We really fell in love with the atmosphere of craft breweries, the quality of people that we have met, and the brotherhood among breweries in general,” Peter Ouellette said.

The couple began their first home brewing operation in 2016, and considered a Portland location in 2018 but reconsidered due to market saturation.


They will brew on-site at the Lisbon Street location with six to eight beers on tap at any given time.

Michael Dostie, president of the Downtown Lewiston Association, said that due to the incubator program, the Ouellettes can “realize their dream,” and the new brewery will add to the downtown nightlife scene.

The location is between several popular restaurants, next to Mother India and across the street from a building that houses Rainbow Bicycle, Boba and Quiet City Books.

According to the organizers, Rusty Bus Brewing was selected due to its business plan that judges thought  will be able to navigate the current labor market and other challenges.

Sandy Marquis, treasurer of the Downtown Lewiston Association and member of the JumpstartME evaluation team, said the Ouellettes “were cognizant of the barriers in these areas and developed a business plan to overcome them with a low staff size and room for organic growth as the business develops.”

The release said program administrators “considered the strength of the business plans and financial projections with a goal of awarding a business that will become a long-term staple in Lewiston’s growing downtown business district.”


The contest prize package includes accounting and legal services, architectural assistance, advertising  and web development.

Property owner and Mayor-elect Carl Sheline also donated a full year of rent to the winner.

“Proactive and small-scale focused economic development efforts like the JumpstartME contest are crucial to moving the city forward,” Sheline said. “Rusty Bus Brewing Co. will be a huge asset adding to the quality of life and to our business center’s vitality. I applaud the efforts by our Downtown Association and regional chamber of commerce; it is a privilege to be able to contribute to their good work.”

Shanna Cox, president of the LA Metro Chamber of Commerce, added, “The commitment and support that area businesses made to this program and to its winner Rusty Bus is a prime example of why doing business in downtown Lewiston is ideal and will ultimately support Rusty Bus’ success.”

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