Here at Sprudge, our Build-Outs of Summer series is in full swing, and, as we’ve trumpeted earlier in these pages, the coffee situation in food-renowned Portland, Maine, is officially in full swing these days as well. At the forefront of this are our friends and partners at Tandem Coffee Roasters, whose second location is in the throes of a full-fledged Build-Out of Summer on the west side of Portland, Maine’s biggest city.
We visited Tandem, as well as their fine dining friends at Hugo’s, earlier in 2014, where got the first hints about this new expansion in a former drive-up dry cleaner, which will include a full-fledged in-house bakery generating treats we’re 110% confident will be delicious. Slated to open in late July or early August, this Congress Street spot is ready to blow. We asked the Tandem family to break down the nitty gritty, and here it is.
As told to Sprudge by Vien Dobui.
How have you guys been??
Great! This past year has been very exciting for us–a Pratt baby was born, two of our employees got married to each other, we won a Good Food Award, and a Rising Star Award from Star Chefs for Coastal New England, our team is about to triple in size, and I am coming on as a managing partner for the new place. How are you guys? You’ve also been growing a lot this year right?
It’s been busy as the bee! Can you tell us about the new space?
It’s in a really cool old gas station/laundromat. It’s a stand-alone building with a big awning going out towards the street that will give us some interesting options for outdoor seating. Inside we’ll have about 20 seats, much more than the 7 we have now.
Whoa. Sounds rad.
It’s an awesome space! Portland has so many weird and unique spaces like this and somehow we’ve lucked out and have been able to get into two of our favorite buildings. The space is about 1,350 square feet and was most recently a laundromat before sitting empty for a few years.
Awesome! Where’s that exactly?
We’ll be located in the West End, one of the densest populations in Portland. So it’s definitely not as out of the way as our first place and will be somewhat of a bigger stage for us.
Can you tell us about the food program?
Our head baker is a good friend of ours, Briana Holt, who was the bakery manager at Pies-n-Thighs in Brooklyn for a few years. She’ll be making super tasty sweet and savory baked goods. Her specialty of course will be pies and donuts, but we’ll definitely be playing the menu loose and seasonally.
Cool gear lined up?
What’s your approach to serving the coffee?
We’re going to emphasize high-quality batch brew but we’re still debating our exact setup for that at the moment. Pour-over may or may not happen at the new place. Coffee shots are a possible alternative—though we won’t know for sure until we get the new equipment in to start tasting.
Do y’all got some special drinks lined up for the menu?
We definitely want to offer some kind of housemade non-coffee drink that would complement some of our more lunch-y items, but are still exploring some early ideas. I haven’t personally tasted them, but I really like the route that G&B is taking with their flavored sparkling teas. They’re such beverage makers’ beverages, if that makes any sense! We’d like to come up with our own style of drinks but those guys are definitely an influence that might lead us somewhere interesting.
Will you be working with local craftsmen/women in the build-out?
Instead of doing all the construction ourself this time, we’ve hired our good friend Peter Floeckher who just started his own construction business–North by East Building Company. Along with a cocktail bar that another friend is opening down the street (shout out to Jewel Box!) we’re excited to be one of the first commercial projects that Peter has taken on. Upholstery for the banquettes and coasters will be made by Pistol Pete’s Upholstery–one of our regulars and neighbors in East Bayside. The coasters are made from scraps of fabric and leather from Pete’s shop and will be similar to the ones we currently use at the East Bayside cafe/roastery. Metal work for furniture and other fixtures will be done by our friends at Nelson Metal Fab. We’re going to have an awesome mural done by our dear friend and fellow San Francisco ex-pat Jenny McGee Dougherty. Last but not least, we’re getting interior design help from our friend and sometimes barista/production assistant Avery Leigh Cox who has a burgeoning freelance business.
Photos by Abigail Pratt.
The future Tandem space is at 724 Congress, Portland, ME 04102. Visit award-winning Tandem Coffee Roasters on the World Wide Web, peep ’em on Instagram, follow ’em on Twitter, and give ’em some like on Facebook.
Are you deep in the throes of a sweaty summer build-out? Let us know about it!