Dogfish Bar & Grille in Portland closed

The Dogfish Bar & Grille, a preferred restaurant and music venue on Free Avenue, is closed indefinitely starting Friday.

The restaurant’s administration introduced the closure on its Fb web page final week, citing “roadblocks” in its path. The venue is positioned off of Capitol Hill, which has been the positioning of constructing highway closures since spring as a part of a mission to revamp the plaza and adjoining park. The put up on Fb didn’t say when or the place the enterprise will reopen, solely that it is going to be “closed till additional discover.”

Michelle Arcand, the proprietor’s sister-in-law, recites her poem to music by Jeff Zimmerman, left, over the past open mic night time at Dogfish Cafe in Portland. It is solely been 16 years since open mic night time started at a Portland restaurant. Michelle MacDonald / Workers Photographer

“This was not a straightforward resolution and there have been ‘roadblocks’ in our method, however there may be at all times hope that we are going to reopen our doorways and if we do, we’ll welcome everybody. With vast open arms. Keen to serve the great folks of Portland, and our household, at all times and endlessly” .

Dogfish, in enterprise since 2003, held the “ultimate” open mic occasion on Wednesday night time, that includes Cherry Griffin, lead singer of the just lately disbanded Paul Revere’s ghost. Sherry obtained his begin on the Dogfish open mic night time over a decade in the past. Dogfish may even host a Trivia Night time Thursday and a closing night time occasion on Friday that includes the music of Travis James Humphrey.

Dogfish, a comfortable brick-walled bar and restaurant, was packed Wednesday night time for the final open mic reception. The bar is positioned a stone’s throw from the Portland Museum of Artwork and the intersection of Excessive Avenue and Congress Avenue in Congress Sq.. The doorway to Free Avenue in entrance of the museum was closed to visitors Wednesday night time as development groups end a multi-million greenback renovation of Congress Sq..

Dogfish’s proprietor, Ted Arcand, was tending to the pub whereas he bid farewell to his loyal clients, who queued up for drinks and meals. Arcand paused the waiter’s duties to reply a couple of questions.

“I am undecided. Nothing is everlasting in life,” Arcand stated when requested if Dogfish shut down completely.

The time was proper

Arcand defined {that a} mixture of things together with the impression of the COVID-19 pandemic on enterprise and workers shortages led him to his resolution.

He denied that the reconstruction of town’s Capitol Sq. was the one purpose for his resolution to shut, however stated that was an element.

Ted Arcand, proprietor of Dogfish Cafe, works the bar on Mike’s final open night time. Michelle MacDonald / Workers Photographer

He stated, “It did not assist.”

“I felt prefer it was the suitable time,” Arcand stated of the shutdown earlier than heading again to the bar to attend for thirsty clients.

The Dogfish’s first open mic was orchestrated by Arcand’s sister-in-law, Michelle Arcand, practically 16 years in the past. The microphone’s anniversary was purported to be on October 12, 2022. Since its inception, the Open Microphone Discussion board has attracted patrons and musicians from everywhere in the world, whereas additionally being a group gathering place for native musicians, she stated.

“I needed to verify everybody who got here right here feels welcome,” she defined because the musicians taped for one of many 21 efficiency slots obtainable on Wednesday night time.

A type of musicians, Jeff Zimmerman, was the primary instrumentalist on Wednesday night time.

“I have been taking part in right here since 2008,” Zimmerman stated earlier than taking to the stage. Zimmerman, who began taking part in with a band referred to as the Grant Avenue Orchestra, described Dogfish as an important place to fulfill different musical collaborators, together with Sherry of the Ghost of Paul Income band.

“It is a unhappy night time,” Zimmerman stated. “I do not know the place the torch will go.”

Gary Rand, one other musician who has recorded to play the open mic, stated he plans to play a few of his authentic songs on guitar.

Rand, who just lately moved to Portland from Boston, stated he heard about open mic night time and got here as a result of he was intrigued. He was disillusioned when he realized that it could be the final, maybe endlessly.

Moments earlier than Zimmerman’s efficiency, Michelle Arcand stood on stage and thanked the viewers for the bar assist and open mic session.

“Thanks for serving to us construct probably the most stunning group and magical friendships. You solely made area, however you made all of the magic occur.”

Musicians predict a loss

Musicians who’ve performed the intimate area through the years spoke earlier Wednesday about how a lot they’ll miss and the way necessary it’s to their improvement.

Sherry began doing open mics there round 2008 throughout breaks from faculty. Two years later, he was invited to do a month-to-month occasion at Dogfish. He quickly invited mates and fellow musicians Max Davis and Sean McCarthy to play with him and the three ultimately turned Paul Revere’s ghost.

“For me as a songwriter, it was one of many first communities I met of individuals writing songs, a spot the place I may discuss, have a beer and chart new songs for the primary time,” Sherry stated. “It is simply such an attention-grabbing and great group of musicians that congregate there. I am unable to communicate extremely sufficient about what a very good open mic, just like the one in Dogfish, can do for a musician.”

Guitarist Jason Spooner stated the closure of Dogfish leaves a void in Portland’s music scene as a result of it isn’t at all times simple for younger musicians to seek out the open mic session that Dogfish runs, with a welcoming crowd and a tight-knit group of musicians and workers. Though he hasn’t performed on Dogfish’s open mic classes, he stated he loves going to them, as a result of they’ve attracted nice native musicians and attention-grabbing acts from everywhere in the nation.

Billy Ruby, left, Portland and Chase Malloy, Brunswick, stopped for a beer at Portland’s Dogfish Café, unbeknownst to them being closed on Friday. From afar, you may see the development on Excessive St. and Free St. Which makes entry tougher. Michelle MacDonald / Workers Photographer

“It is a actually particular place. I do not suppose there is a room the identical dimension that does this sort of open mic,” Spooner stated.

Humphrey, the Hallowell-based guitarist, has been doing a weekly gig at Dogfish for 16 years. “The ambiance on the venue is completely happy and laid-back and it is a very enjoyable occasion for a musician,” he stated on Wednesday. Humphrey performs in locations throughout Maine, however he usually tells folks if they need to have the ability to hear carefully to him taking part in, they need to come and listen to him at Dogfish. He stated it was sufficiently small and quiet sufficient {that a} musician who solely had an acoustic guitar might be heard clearly.

Humphrey stated what he’ll miss most about Dogfish are the buddies he made there among the many workers and regulars. He stated he’s wanting ahead to acting on closing night time and is dreading it.

“Ted (Arcand) is a really robust man and has persistently employed nice folks. It has been actually enjoyable working with them,” Humphrey stated.

Based in 1995, Dogfish first ran a brew service, and in 1999 opened Dogfish Market in Portland’s West Finish, based on the corporate’s web site. In 2003 the corporate opened Dogfish Café on the nook of Congress Avenue and St. John’s Avenue. In 2006, Arcand acquired the constructing positioned at 128 Free St. And she or he opened the Dogfish Bar & Grille. Spirits Catering, which operates from the identical tackle as Dogfish Bar & Grille, will proceed to function, based on the Dogfish Firm Fb web page.

development dysfunction

The Dogfish Bar & Grille is positioned on a block of Free Avenue that has seen pedestrian and vehicular visitors disrupted since spring on account of a $7.2 million renovation of Congress Sq., together with the roads and close by Congress Sq. Park. Work started in April and is anticipated to take about two years. The plan requires wider sidewalks, clearer walkways, new artwork on Congress Sq. garden and an improved plaza in entrance of the Portland Museum of Artwork throughout the road.

The primary part of the mission referred to as for Free Avenue to be closed till about mid-June, however obstacles corresponding to the invention of a beforehand unknown ledge under the positioning delayed work, irritating close by enterprise house owners. Building firm officers estimated that work affecting entry to Free Avenue could be accomplished in November.

Jessica Grunden, a metropolis spokeswoman, stated in an electronic mail on Wednesday that she was not conscious that Dogfish house owners had reached out to town for assist.

“We labored exhausting to handle sudden development points and get the contractor again on website,” Grundin stated. “Since then, the contractor has been on website and part one is because of be accomplished in early November, which incorporates the free avenue part.”

Grundin stated Capitol Hill will likely be paved in the course of the first week of October, climate allowing.

“In the beginning of the mission, we improved signage alerting the general public that Free Avenue companies are open and adjusted the route of a aspect avenue so guests may extra simply entry Free Avenue and companies,” Grundin stated. She stated Portland Downtown can be operating a promotion encouraging the general public to repeat Free Avenue work.

In August, the waitress at Dogfish Kiersten Andrews advised the Press Herald that she had seen her wage lower by two-thirds because of the decline of enterprise from the closed avenue. She stated indicators saying “native visitors solely” stop most motorists from driving on the road, and the disturbance of the fence and development scares off foot visitors.

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