BANGOR — Downtown Bangor expanded its restaurant offerings in October when the West Coast burrito took up residence on Main Street.
Heather and Abe Furth, owners of Woodman’s Bar and Grille and Verve in Orono, opened the second Verve at 89-91 Main St. in Bangor. “It was a soft opening,” Heather said, meaning that the date wasn’t be announced. One day, downtown visitors discovered that the door was open and the coffee and burritos were ready to savor.
“The menu is the same as what the Orono Verve serves — to keep things consistent,” Heather said. “The food delivery is the same.”
The walls of the Bangor Verve are decorated with large images of area people doing fun things, such as biking or skiing.
The process of rehabilitating the two buildings that comprise the location began approximately 18 months ago when the Furths bought the location, which included six apartments on the third to fifth floors. Those apartments, Abe said, have been rented for almost a year. “People tell us they love living there,” he said.
Meanwhile, demolition and renovation was taking place on the first floor. “We took out 40 tons of demolition debris,” Abe said. The walls were stripped of layers of wallpaper to the bricks, layers of ceiling and layers of flooring were removed. In the process, they uncovered World War I war bond posters and found a wallet dating to the 1940s.
“We made some nice discoveries,” Heather said of the vintage building. Those discoveries included a tin ceiling 12 feet above them and hardwood floors. In years past, the location housed the Walk Shop in the 1990s, Dr. Scholll’s Foot Comfort Store, Burdell’s Ladies’ Clothing in the 1940s, Chain Dress Shops in 1931 and Outlet Corp. Clothing and Footwear in 1921.
“It was an ugly duckling building. It’s nice to know the building is back the way it should be and to breathe new life into it,” Heather said.
Abe said he had been to the location to help with the renovation every day since January. “It’s exciting to be downtown, to see the people who frequent the area, to experience the support from other restaurant owners downtown and their more-the-merrier attitude,” he said.
The new Verve has 2,000 square feet of space, slightly larger than the Orono Verve and with seating for 59. It also has a spot furnished with sofas and easy chairs where one can settle down with a laptop or just relax. In addition to the traditional burritos, the Bangor Verve offers draft white or red wine and draft beer. “We want people to hang out,” Heather said.
The Bangor Verve decor is the same as the Orono Verve, the traditional lime green and shades of brown.
Tabitha Stevens is manager of the new Verve, while Heather continues as general manager of both locations.
The Furths said they were grateful to all the people who helped make the new Verve possible, including the Bangor City Council, and contractors Rick Roy and H.I. Hasey. “The city provided a City of Bangor Improvement Grant and was very encouraging,” Abe said.
The Furths are among a group of 30-something young people who grew up in the Bangor area, attended the University of Maine and found a way to counteract the prevailing mindset that Maine suffers from a brain-drain. “We are very connected to our families and to Maine. We love Mainer’s attitudes and their way of life. We are glad to stay here,” Heather said. “And so many of our friends are moving back here.”
“We love everything Maine has to offer,” Abe said.
Both say they are delighted to be a part of the upswing in the revitalization of Bangor’s downtown. The are looking forward to participating in Bangor’s art walks, working with the Maine Discovery Museum across the street, the Penobscot Theatre just up the street and being part of the downtown community.
“We feel very welcomed,” Heather said.