This column appears every two weeks in Foster’s Daily Democrat and Tuskegee News. This week Guy Trammell, an African American man from Tuskegee, Alabama, and Amy Miller, a white woman from South Berwick, Maine write about new stores and restaurants in our cities.
By Amy Miller
While we were hiding in our homes, new businesses were quietly opening their doors in South Berwick. Despite a pandemic, a lockdown and a near total absence of foot traffic, three restaurants, an inn and a tech store have opened within a few hundred yards of each other on Main Street. Best of all, all of these new businesses were started by families in South Berwick.
The first to open was Odd Fellows Tavern, which actually had its grand opening on March 4, just 10 days before people across the country were invited to stay in their homes. That first week, Odd Fellows was filled with diners and enthusiasm, according to owner Greg Sessler, who opened the restaurant with his wife, Kristen Sessler. Then they had to improvise.
In the fall of 2020, brothers John and Jim Flynn opened the Stage House Inn and the inn’s gourmet restaurant, Dufour. The 20-room pub, restaurant and inn are housed in a historic building that in the 1820s hosted General Lafayette and President Monroe.
Then, in February 2021, Lee and Brooke Frank opened the highly anticipated Lee Frank burger and hot dog. The Franks had rented the building since March 1, 2020, but put their plans on hold until the perfect time to open. When they realized that a moment like this wasn’t just around the corner, they went ahead, opening up to “absolute gangbusters,” according to Lee Frank.
How did these business owners do it? How did they open through thick and thin?
Odd Fellows was already equipped with a wood-fired pizza oven, and Sessler changed his vision to focus heavily on take-out pizza. His kids did their homework in the restaurant, the staff was limited to family and one other worker, and Sessler and two pals stayed up most of the night in July to build an outdoor dining area.
By the time Lee Franks opened, people were heading back to restaurants and a local fast food restaurant seemed like just what the city wanted. The Franks also have a kid at the elementary school across the street who could hang out at a restaurant during work hours.
For Matt Gallant, who opened Oasis IT in April, timing was more helpful than difficult.
“More and more people were becoming more and more reliant on technology and more and more isolated,” said Gallant.
And frankly, Gallant thought it would be a big project for him and his daughter, Katie, who was coming home from college for the year.
“I was trying to figure out with my daughter what she wanted to do, and I said, ‘For fun we can open a computer store,” “said Gallant, a former Air Force technician. who was already working on his house as a technology consultant.
When Gallant announced that he could start this business, the community was always supportive. People said they would gladly get technical help locally rather than at a big box store.
Local support, it seems, has been essential for the new ventures in South Berwick.
PS Two medical marijuana stores have also opened in town during COVID, but we’ll save that for another column.
By Guy Trammell Jr.
The all-black village of Tuskegee in Greenwood has always had plenty of places to eat something tasty. Mrs. Burrough’s ice cream, Allen’s Variety Store hot dogs, Perry’s barbecue, Quiet Place’s 15-cent burgers (but don’t let your parents know you’ve been there!), And Price’s donuts, with icing flakes, in a Love’s Barber Shop wax paper pouch. Sure, the list goes on, but I have to mention Wiley’s sit-down restaurant with linen tablecloths, Thomas Reed’s Chicken Coop, and Larkin’s. For those who don’t know, it was Larkin’s BBQ which was pretty much the best in the country. No fat, an ideal sauce, and the cooking technique that made you want to chew on the bone. My apologies to the dogs in the family. They had no treats that night; everything has been consumed.
When I attended Tuskegee Integrated High School in downtown Tuskegee, Joe’s Dairy Bar was the main attraction nearby, with their irresistible foot-long chili dogs, and if you had the funds, a shake and maybe some fries to go with it. Tuskegee’s first real sandwich shop – in other words, a place to buy a hoagie (submarine) – was Tuskegee Sundries, located in the square. Don’t forget the pickle! They stayed open late and brought customers in.
Currently, during the coronavirus pandemic, we have lost our department store, Roses, but new businesses focused on the food industry have sprung up in Tuskegee. In the city center, just off the square, is City Kitchen, which offers a large selection for breakfast and lunch. You can get a hearty southern breakfast with eggs, toast, turkey sausage and of course freshly made buttered oatmeal. Take your time to fully enjoy this treat. For lunch there is a variety of sandwiches, delicious wraps and tasty soups.
Back in the village of Greenwood, just across from the Institute Post Office, is the Access Health Bar with tasty salads, refreshing fruit drinks, hot food and an incredible variety of delicious smoothies. This business, which started at the Macon County Farmers Market in downtown Tuskegee, still focuses on fresh, locally grown produce, and the flavors testify. With July and August ahead of us, a good smoothie is just what it takes to help beat the heat.
The old Allen’s Variety Store building, across from the Access Health Bar, is the perfect place to nurture your indulgences at The Craving. If your sweet tooth is drawing attention and your craving for those heart-warming desserts is spiraling out of control, then this is the place for you. The Craving slogan is “Where the desserts of your dreams come true!” »And their large menu attests to it. Whether it’s a 7 pound cake or a Superman or Purple Rain cake, they can make an occasion special.
They also have strawberry, blackberry, apple and even peach shoemakers. And, of course, double chocolate, snickerdoodle, and white chocolate macadamia cookies, to name a few, as well as ice cream and pies. But their main attraction are the Luckis cheesecakes imported from Detroit. These include orangesicle, buttered pecan, and deluxe upside down pineapple. You may have to park your car and walk back to burn off the calories!
Yes, I have fond memories of Larkin and enjoying Mrs. Burrough’s ice cream, but I seem to hear my name whispered by a certain blackberry cobbler in Allen’s old apartment building.
Guy and Amy can be contacted at [email protected]