Dogfish Bar & Grille in Portland closed

The Dogfish Bar & Grille, a well-liked restaurant and music venue on Free Road, 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 situated off of Capitol Hill, which has been the positioning of constructing street closures since spring as a part of a challenge 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 / Employees Photographer

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

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

Dogfish, a comfy brick-walled bar and restaurant, was packed Wednesday night time for the final open mic reception. The bar is situated a stone’s throw from the Portland Museum of Artwork and the intersection of Excessive Road and Congress Avenue in Congress Sq.. The doorway to Free Road 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 number of questions.

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

It was the suitable time

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

He denied that the reconstruction of town’s Capitol Sq. was the one motive for his determination 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 / Employees 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, almost 16 years in the past. The microphone’s anniversary was speculated 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 out there on Wednesday night time.

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

“I have been enjoying right here since 2008,” Zimmerman stated earlier than taking to the stage. Zimmerman, who began enjoying with a band known as the Grant Road Orchestra, described Dogfish as an incredible place to satisfy 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 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 disenchanted when he discovered that it might be the final, maybe eternally.

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

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

Musicians predict a loss

Musicians who’ve performed the intimate house over time spoke earlier Wednesday about how a lot they’ll miss and the way vital it’s to their growth.

Sherry began doing open mics there round 2008 throughout breaks from faculty. Two years later, he was invited to do a month-to-month celebration at Dogfish. He quickly invited associates and fellow musicians Max Davis and Sean McCarthy to play with him and the three finally grew to become 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 speak, have a beer and chart new songs for the primary time,” Sherry stated. “It is simply such an fascinating and fantastic group of musicians that congregate there. I am unable to communicate extremely sufficient about what a superb 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 is not at all times simple for younger musicians to search 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 periods, he stated he loves going to them, as a result of they’ve attracted nice native musicians and fascinating 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 harder. Michelle MacDonald / Employees Photographer

“It is a actually particular place. I do not suppose there is a room the identical measurement that does this type 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 celebration for a musician,” he stated on Wednesday. Humphrey performs in locations throughout Maine, however he typically tells folks if they need to have the ability to pay attention intently to him enjoying, 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 may very well 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 sturdy 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-serving enterprise, and in 1999 opened Dogfish Market in Portland’s West Finish, in response to the corporate’s web site. In 2003 the corporate opened Dogfish Café on the nook of Congress Avenue and St. John’s Road. In 2006, Arcand acquired the constructing situated at 128 Free St. And she or he opened the Dogfish Bar & Grille. Spirits Catering, which operates from the identical handle as Dogfish Bar & Grille, will proceed to function, in response to the Dogfish Firm Fb web page.

development dysfunction

The Dogfish Bar & Grille is situated on a block of Free Road that has seen pedestrian and vehicular visitors disrupted since spring as a consequence 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 section of the challenge known as for Free Road to be closed till about mid-June, however obstacles comparable to the invention of a beforehand unknown ledge under the positioning delayed work, irritating close by enterprise homeowners. Development firm officers estimated that work affecting entry to Free Road can be accomplished in November.

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

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

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

“In the beginning of the challenge, we improved signage alerting the general public that Free Road companies are open and altered the route of a facet avenue in order that guests may extra simply entry Free Road and companies,” Grundin stated. She stated Portland Downtown can be operating a promotion encouraging the general public to repeat Free Road work.

In August, the waitress at Dogfish Kiersten Andrews instructed the Press Herald that she had seen her wage lower by two-thirds as a result of 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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