Maddie Morgan stocks straws Friday morning at Dairy Joy on Spring Street in Auburn as she and others prepare the  stand for opening. “I started working here six years ago when I was 14,” she said. “It was the cool place to work as a high schooler, and I just never left. I love the customers and co-workers.” Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Spring may not have sprung yet in Lewiston and Auburn, but ice cream lovers rejoice! March 15 is the official opening for both Dairy Joys — 137 Spring St. in Auburn and 109 Campus Ave. in Lewiston.

Dairy Joy owner Eliana Starbird stands Friday morning in front of her store on Spring Street in Auburn. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Owner Eliana Starbird is rolling out a new look and some new products, including gluten-free and dairy-free offerings.

The Dairy Joy bar is also a new product offering that is a made-to-order version of an ice cream bar on a stick dipped in your choice of sauces, such as chocolate, butterscotch or cherry rolled in jimmies, crunch coats, Oreo crumbles or chopped peanuts, then drizzled with chocolate or caramel. The bars come in any of the flavors of soft serve they carry — vanilla, chocolate, chocolate twist, coffee or coffee twist.

Dairy Joy will serve sorbet made by Gifford’s Ice Cream and Candy Co. and gluten-free, fat-free and dairy-free soft serve ice cream from Dole. The Auburn location will also sell hot and iced coffee and coffee floats.

This is Starbird’s second year of ownership, and she wanted “a new look and the same legacy,” so she created a new logo, signs and uniforms for both locations, a new look to the menu and even the serving cups and T-shirts. There’s also a new website and e-commerce portal where customers can purchase T-shirts, gift cards and other products online at

Starbird has added extra employees — hiring roughly 45 for the season — most of whom are in high school.


Gifford’s Ice Cream 910 Minot Ave. in Auburn will not reopen this year, and the building is for sale. Christopher Wheelock/Sun Journal

Gifford’s Ice Cream Minot Avenue location for sale

Speaking of Gifford’s, the company is still dealing with the aftermath of a serious fire in early February, which forced the company to shut down operations for a while. The Buzz has learned the company will not reopen its family stand at 910 Minot Ave. and has put the building up for sale. It’s listed as a free-standing building with 2.56 acres with 62 parking spaces as a “former Gifford’s Ice Cream shop.”

The property is listed for $675,000.

In a news release, the family said the decision not to reopen was made well before the fire at its Skowhegan plant. “It was a very difficult one for our family to make,” said Lindsay Skilling, chief executive officer of Gifford’s. “We loved being in the Auburn area and are so thankful for our time there. We’ve made so many memories, and formed relationships with so many Gifford’s fans in the community. It’s been an honor to serve the people of Auburn.”

The family stand in Farmington will reopen at noon March 31. Gifford’s said it is partnering with four unnamed entities to temporarily produce the company’s ice cream for retail, food service and partner stand channels, until repairs can be made to the Skowhegan plant, which it said was extensively damaged.

Blackie’s Farm Fresh Produce at 966 Minot Ave. in Auburn will add more retail space and expand its product line this summer. Christopher Wheelock/Sun Journal

Blackie’s Farm Fresh Produce growing soon


Look for a bigger Blackie’s Farm Fresh Produce stand in the coming months, as owner Matt Manson puts his expansion plans into action. For retail customers it means more choices and more space. For wholesale customers it means better workflow and additional storage space, which will also come in handy as Blackie’s produce starts to come in during the summer from its 30-acre farm.

Manson said the inside space will just about double to allow for more refrigeration and shelving as they expand the product lines. When facing the entrance on Minot Road, the expansion will be on the left side for the retail section and will also include more parking.

Look for new Maine-based frozen products and more grocery items because Manson wants to create more of a one-stop shop where customers can pick up all the ingredients for a full meal.

The self-professed farm stand junkie, said he likes stopping in places and looking for new products to bring into the store. “We’ve focused a lot on our customers’ shopping experience and how it looks and feels,” Manson told The Buzz on Tuesday. “And I think we’re just like a little bit too tight in the space we’re in.”

Manson, who worked for Blackie for two decades before buying it in 2019, has been trying to slowly expand, adding local frozen meats and local produce last year. “A big part of my motivation is keeping Blackie’s legacy alive, and you know, keeping him in mind.”

Manson said he hopes to break ground in early April and wrap the project up about three months later. As of now, Blackie’s plans to stay open during construction, so customers will have to keep the end goal in sight and endure some minor inconveniences.


Cowbell Grill & Tap at 49 Lisbon St., Lewiston, will close after regular business March 12. Owner Alex Markakis said the new location at Rock Row in Westbrook is expected to open in April. Christopher Wheelock/Sun Journal

Cowbell Grill & Tap closing in Lewiston

Four years after opening in downtown Lewiston, with two-hour wait times to get in, Cowbell Grill & Tap at 49 Lisbon St. will close its doors for good. March 12 will be its last day of operation.

Owner Alex Markakis told the Buzz employees were informed Sunday morning during a staff meeting and offered the opportunity to work at the new location at Rock Row in Westbrook, which is expected to open in April. He said half a dozen employees had expressed an interest in making the 36-mile drive.

Markakis said the number one reason he and his partner decided to close the Lewiston location is the lack of support for downtown businesses from the city. He said the downtown business association lost it steam when former President Michael Dostie stepped down last April. Markakis said parking on Lisbon Street was another big consideration.

Markakis said he and his partner Jimmy Albert own six successful restaurants and the new Westbrook location will become the flagship of their Cowbell restaurants.

“I went to Lewiston in 2018 and it was just like Biddeford, it was young, vibrant, people walking on the streets,” Markakis said. But he said things changed during the COVID-19 pandemic and downtown Lewiston never recovered.


Markakis said he owns the building at 49 Lisbon St., so he will look to lease or sell.

Asked if he looked for other locations in Lewiston-Auburn, the restaurateur said he did and considered the empty space at the former Pedro O’Hara’s on Main Street, which has since been purchased and which will soon open as Afro Taste Restaurant and Lounge.

The brewpub offered 25 different burgers and 25 beers on tap and generally had favorable online reviews. A response to the closing post by Cowbells, summed it up this way: “Loved the food, but hated the parking.”

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

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