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 undertaking 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 will likely be “closed till additional discover.”

Michelle Arcand, the proprietor’s sister-in-law, recites her poem to music by Jeff Zimmerman, left, over the last 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’s at all times hope that we’ll reopen our doorways and if we do, we’ll welcome everybody. With vast open arms. Prepared to serve the great individuals of Portland, and our household, at all times and endlessly” .

Dogfish, in enterprise since 2003, held the “ultimate” open mic celebration on Wednesday night time, that includes Cherry Griffin, lead singer of the not too long ago disbanded Paul Revere’s ghost. Sherry acquired his begin on the Dogfish open mic night time over a decade in the past. Dogfish may also host a Trivia Night time 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 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 site visitors Wednesday night time as building 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 mentioned when requested if Dogfish shut down completely.

The time was proper

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

He denied that the reconstruction of town’s Capitol Sq. was the one motive for his resolution to shut, however mentioned 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 mentioned, “It did not assist.”

“I felt prefer it was the fitting time,” Arcand mentioned 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 mentioned.

“I wished to verify everybody who got here right here feels welcome,” she defined because the musicians taped for one of many 21 efficiency slots accessible 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 mentioned 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 ideal place to fulfill different musical collaborators, together with Sherry of the Ghost of Paul Income band.

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

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

Rand, who not too long ago moved to Portland from Boston, mentioned 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 will 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 essentially 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 over time spoke earlier Wednesday about how a lot they are going to miss and the way vital it’s to their growth.

Sherry began doing open mics there round 2008 throughout breaks from school. Two years later, he was invited to do a month-to-month celebration at Dogfish. He quickly invited pals 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 speak, have a beer and chart new songs for the primary time,” Sherry mentioned. “It is simply such an attention-grabbing and great group of musicians that congregate there. I am unable to converse extremely sufficient about what open mic, just like the one in Dogfish, can do for a musician.”

Guitarist Jason Spooner mentioned 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 search out the open mic session that Dogfish runs, with a welcoming crowd and a tight-knit group of musicians and employees. Though he hasn’t performed on Dogfish’s open mic classes, he mentioned 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 harder. Michelle MacDonald / Workers Photographer

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

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

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

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

Based in 1995, Dogfish first ran a brew-serving enterprise, and in 1999 opened Dogfish Market in Portland’s West Finish, in keeping with 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 he or she opened the Dogfish Bar & Grille. Spirits Catering, which operates from the identical tackle as Dogfish Bar & Grille, will proceed to function, in keeping with the Dogfish Firm Fb web page.

building dysfunction

The Dogfish Bar & Grille is positioned on a block of Free Avenue that has seen pedestrian and vehicular site visitors disrupted since spring resulting from a $7.2 million renovation of Congress Sq., together with the roads and close by Congress Sq. Park. Work started in April and is predicted 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 undertaking referred to as for Free Avenue to be closed till about mid-June, however obstacles corresponding to the invention of a beforehand unknown ledge beneath the positioning delayed work, irritating close by enterprise homeowners. Building firm officers estimated that work affecting entry to Free Avenue could be accomplished in November.

Jessica Grunden, a metropolis spokeswoman, mentioned 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 surprising building points and get the contractor again on web site,” Grundin mentioned. “Since then, the contractor has been on web site and section one is because of be accomplished in early November, which incorporates the free avenue part.”

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

“Firstly of the undertaking, we improved signage alerting the general public that Free Avenue companies are open and altered the route of a facet avenue so guests may extra simply entry Free Avenue and companies,” Grundin mentioned. She mentioned Portland Downtown can be working a promotion encouraging the general public to repeat Free Avenue work.

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


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