Chef Randy Smith sits at a table Tuesday afternoon inside Side by Each Brewing Co. where he has operated Pinky D’s Poutine Factory inside the Auburn brewery. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

It’s been a good marriage of craft beer and poutine for nearly five years at 1110 Minot Ave. in Auburn. But the lease is up and it’s time for Chef Randy Smith and Pinky D’s Poutine Factory to bid adieu.

Smith said Feb. 28 will be Pinky D’s last day and it all comes down to economics. The dynamics of restaurant operation have shifted in the post-pandemic world and it gets harder and harder to make ends meet, staff the restaurant and pay rent. Smith, who had a full career as a chef and food and beverage manager before taking on the food truck project, will still dish up poutine at events in the Lewiston and Auburn area and statewide.

Smith decided to sell one of his three food trucks — LA Taco — to his longtime manager at the brick and mortar restaurant, Katie Lemieux, as they leave Side By Each Brewing Co. That still leaves him two food trucks — Pinky D’s Poutine Factory and Beach Betti’s, which he bills as an ice cream sandwich and high-end treats truck.

The sun sets Wednesday afternoon behind Side by Each Brewing Co. on Minot Avenue in Auburn. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

All this leaves Side By Each owners Ben Low and Matt Johannes in a pickle of sorts, as Pinky D’s makes an exit. Low told the Buzz they are in search of a talented chef to take over and run the kitchen, which is substantial. “Our vision is simple pub food done well,” Low said Tuesday. They’re looking for someone with creativity to create a menu that will complement the existing beer menu.

He said they’re open to ideas like an Asian or Mexican flair but they have some must-haves for the new menu — a good quality burger and salads of some sort. So, polish up the resume, dream up a doable menu with some flair and give Ben or Matt a call.

Groundwork on a two-building apartment complex on Mt. Auburn Avenue in Auburn is seen Wednesday afternoon where A.R. Building Co. of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is building 102 market-rate apartments. At right is BJ’s Wholesale Club and across the street is The Home Depot. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Mt. Auburn Avenue apartment complex breaks ground

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What’s all the buzz about the construction next to BJ’s Wholesale Club in Auburn? The Buzz can confirm it is the start of a two-building apartment complex on Mt. Auburn Avenue that’s been in the works since it was proposed in August 2021.

Developer A.R. Building Co. of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is building 102 market-rate apartments, which is a slight modification from the original 128 units originally planned. The Auburn Planning, Permitting and Code Department said there has been one modification to the original plan for handling stormwater runoff that has been approved, resulting in fewer units.

The developer said the apartments will be about a 50-50 mix of one- and two-bedroom units. A pool and a gym are still planned for the luxury apartments, which will not be ready for preleasing for about 24 months. Expect construction to begin in earnest in the spring.

The former convenience store at 539 Washington St. N. in Auburn will become the future home of J&H Variety. Joshua Desmarais and his daughter Hannah Olcott, owners of Isaac’s Place mobile food trailer, purchased the property. Submitted photo

J&H Variety coming to Auburn

The father-daughter team that brought you Isaac’s Place mobile food trailer are taking it one step further. Joshua Desmarais and his daughter, Hannah Olcott, have purchased the property at 539 Washington St. N. in Auburn for their first brick and mortar location. Desmarais said it’s the culmination of his daughter’s hard work and dream to own her own business. Olcott will be the sole owner, he said.

They plan to turn the former convenience store into a variety store called J&H Variety. Borrowing heavily from their menu for the mobile food truck, which they sold, J&H Variety will offer hand-tossed chicken tenders, pizzas with fresh dough, made-to-order hamburger patties, fries, onion rings and wings. Breakfast sandwiches will start off the day beginning at $3.85, salads, pasta dishes, baskets and a kids menu.

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J&H Variety will be open Monday through Saturday from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Desmarais said they plan to offer free delivery and endeavor to keep their prices low.

The building will undergo renovations and upgrades in the next few months with a projected opening March 1.

The Buzz offers quick hits about trending area business happenings. Have a Buzzable tip? Contact business writer Christopher Wheelock at 689-2817 or [email protected]

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