Scott Berk of Cafe Nomad. Emily Delamater photo

NORWAY — A nomad at heart, it took a special place to entice Scott Berg to finally plant his roots.

Berk, 55, found that place in Norway, where he opened the popular eatery and gathering spot Café Nomad in 2007. A community leader, Berk is president of Norway Downtown, vice president of the Norway Maine Opera House Corp. and co-chair of the Advisory Council of the Maine Downtown Center. He is active in revitalization efforts at the local and state level.

Born in El Dorado, Arkansas, Berk and his family left when he was four months old to be raised in North Africa and Europe, where his father worked in the oil business as a petroleum engineer. With a dozen engineers in his extended family, Berk followed suit, getting his degree in mining engineering from Colorado School of Mines. He followed that career path for a while before discovering his passion in western Maine.

Down East magazine described his Café Nomad as “a local institution, beloved not only for its vegan-friendly food, but also its legendarily kind customer service and commitment to the community. . . . Mismatched furniture, a rotating selection of local art, and windows overlooking Pennesseewassee Stream make it the sort of place you could spend all day pecking away at your laptop.”

Berk has been married 23 years to Diana Arcadipone, who he calls “an amazing artist.”

Where did the name Café Nomad come from, and why did you start it in Norway? I was raised as a global nomad, and before I settled in Maine, I always felt that my life was very nomadic. Up until my mid-30s I had never lived in a single place for longer than eight years, and many places for much shorter. Then in 1999 I founded an adventure racing team called Team Nomad. Adventure races are multisport, multi-day, team races that involve wilderness navigation and team point-to-point racing. Team Nomad raced internationally and all over the U.S. from 1999 until 2004.

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I was living in Boston, and my wife and I used to come up to Otisfield on weekends. I was working in a very stressful career, and I decided it was time to follow a dream I had in college of opening and owning a café. I started looking around western Maine because I loved the area, and it was very affordable. I was in Norway sitting at Fare Share Market when I saw two women walking down the street picking up trash. I was intrigued because by the way they were dressed they clearly were not doing it as a part of their jobs. They were Andrea Burns and Brenda Melhus, two women very involved in revitalization efforts in Norway. We had a conversation about Norway and they were so passionate about the community and the future possibilities of Main Street. I was convinced this was the community I wanted to be a part of, which eventually led to me buying the building were Café Nomad is today.

How has the business evolved over the years? I started the café in 2007, and it has evolved as the town has evolved. In 2007, Main Street was in the midst of a low point, with many vacancies and transient businesses. Café Nomad slowly became a very important part of the downtown Norway community. A place where friendships have been formed, people come to meet and dream of our communities’ future possibilities, and where friends come to relax, eat good food and drink a delicious cup of coffee.

Down East magazine described Norway has having one of the best small-town downtowns in the state. What makes downtown Norway special? Norway has an amazing community of people who live and/or work downtown. They are open minded, believe in Norway’s future and value both lifelong residents and those of us from away, that have chosen to live our lives here. Norway was lucky in that during the ’70s when so many historic downtowns were torn down and turned into parking lots and strip malls, our historic core was preserved. A number of people in town recognized the unique opportunity this presented, and so with a lot of hard work and effort we have been able to successfully revitalize our downtown.

A couple of weeks ago you spoke in favor of Lakeside Norway at a Planning Board meeting. How do you feel the project will benefit Norway? There are a number of properties on Main Street that have been neglected and have been falling into disrepair for a long time. In particular, the Odd Fellows building, the old Advertiser Democrat building and the old factory that Lakeside is now occupying. I believe that Norway needs thoughtful development directed by people with strong ties to our community, that make our town a desirable place to move to and visit. I think Lakeside is one of those projects. It is creative, well financed and will appeal to a large variety of people.

If you were town manager of Norway for a day, what’s the one thing you would want to change? Well, if I was king for a day and money was no object, I would get the power lines that run down Main Street buried. As for being town manager? That is a tough question. One of the things I love about Norway: We have an incredibly functional and thoughtful town government. They are doing everything I could wish for and more.

You’re hungry after a long day at work at Café Nomad. What menu item do you order? I love our Overset breakfast sandwich. It has a fresh local egg, red onions, greens, tomato, avocado and scallion cream cheese on a bagel. But on the weekend, I go for our blueberry buttermilk pancakes made with Maine blueberries and served with Maine maple syrup. They are the best pancakes in western Maine! I guess I love breakfast!

What do you like to do in your free time? My hobbies change with the seasons. In the spring, summer and fall I love to rock climb and go for long runs in the mountains. In the winter I backcountry ski, and hike in the mountains. I am a volunteer in the Otisfield Fire Department as a firefighter/EMT, and I also love to travel with my wife.


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