MANCHESTER, N.H. — More than 30 people learned they were out of work when the Portland Pie Co. on Elm Street abruptly closed Sunday after a decade of doing business downtown.
Makenzie White, who was just hired as a manager for the Manchester location Feb. 17, said she and other employees had “no idea” the restaurant would be closing until the end of business Saturday night.
“I was locking up, and our general manager came over and said ‘You’ll hear about this tomorrow, but I want you to hear it from me,’” White said. “She said she heard from our district manager we were closing down as of Sunday. She had to call everyone Sunday with the news. I heard Saturday night, but a lot of cooks, servers, dishwashers … a lot people didn’t know until they got the call Sunday.”
Dan Thomson, COO for Portland Pie Co., issued a statement Sunday thanking patrons for supporting the Queen City location.
“Due to overwhelming economic factors, Portland Pie Company regrets having to close our Manchester location,” Thomson said in a statement. “We would like to thank Manchester and the surrounding communities for the support over the years. We know the Elm Street corner has been a big part of Manchester’s history and we are proud to have been a part of it for the past 10 years.
“We value the contributions of all our past and current employees, and certainly our Manchester employees are no exception. We will work with all employees to ensure a smooth transition. We will continue to operate and hope customers visit us at our other locations throughout Maine.”
The Manchester location was “at capacity” for a trivia night as recently as last week, according to White.
“We were on the verge of a renaissance,” White said. “Everyone here was working hard. I was just hired two weeks ago … why hire someone if it’s going to close?”
Portland Pie Co. closed its Nashua location near the intersection of Railroad Square and Main Street in 2017. The company plans to continue to operate locations throughout Maine in Portland, Biddeford, Scarborough, Westbrook and Brunswick.
White said she and general manager Kelly McKinney set up a group chat Sunday with laid-off Portland Pie employees, sharing any leads they get on possible employment opportunities.
“The restaurant industry is incredible,” White said. “Everyone is so supportive, so close.”
White said she was “excited” to take the job at Portland Pie Co.
“The downtown is seeing a change, with places like the Rex [Theatre] coming in,” White said. “It’s not just restaurants and bars, and I was excited to be a part of the changing culture in downtown Manchester. I went by there Sunday morning and there are already people ripping the kitchen apart and packing up food. I didn’t see this coming.”