A for lease sign advertises empty space on Fore Street in Portland on Thursday Dec. 9, 2021. At least four new or expanded restaurants are expected to open in the city this year. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

PORTLAND, Maine — At least two dozen city eateries have closed their doors for good since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in the spring of 2020. Health restrictions, cautious diners and staff shortages have all taken their toll on the restaurant scene Bon Appetit magazine named the best in the country back in 2018.

But current news is not all bad.

Four new Portland restaurant spaces are planning to open this year. Two are expansions, one is an all new venture and the fourth is nationally anticipated, even garnering a writeup in a glossy fashion magazine.

Paper Tiger

This new cocktail and oyster bar is currently under construction in the former Maine Lobster Shack space at 425 Fore St. in the Old Port. Co-owners Michael Fraser, Nace Cohen and Marcus Alcantara hope to have it open by early spring.

Paper Tiger will sport a 12- to 14-person bar, seats along the front window, plus booths and outdoor tables, according to the Portland Food Map website.

As for the menu, it’s reportedly inspired by American fast food, oyster bars and late night Chinese takeout. Expect to find burgers, noodles, whole grilled fish and raw oysters at Paper Tiger. The drinks list will include an eclectic mix of rum-based cocktails, tequila and local craft beer.

Stars and Stripes Brewing

This Freeport-based company has leased the space formerly occupied by Lio at 3 Spring St. It will be the brewery’s second location.

Stars and Stripes first opened in Freeport in November 2018. They’re hoping to have the Portland bar open by summer and expect to serve food and wine, along with their own malted creations.

Onggi

This tiny, fermentation-forward retail shop and food counter on Washington Avenue is growing. Its owners have leased the former A&C Grocery building a block away at 131 Washington Ave.

The new digs will more than quadruple their space, from 300 to 1,300 square feet.

The bump in square footage will allow expansion of both the retail and food service parts of Onggi’s business. The move is expected to be complete by spring.

Onggi carries everything anyone might need to start fermenting food at home, plus many small-batch ferments from mostly local makers. The food counter features a fermented menu of snacks including cookies, kimchi pies and miso scones.

Twelve

This month, Vogue magazine listed Twelve as one of America’s most anticipated restaurant openings of 2022.

“Chef Colin Wyatt and Daniel Gorlas have decamped from Manhattan to team up with Portland, Maine’s Prentice Hospitality Group,” the magazine wrote. “This summer they’ll unveil Twelve, a seasonal American restaurant that pays homage to Maine’s best ingredients.”

Twelve, located at 120 Thames St. on the waterfront, will be located inside the former Pattern Storehouse building at the old Portland Company industrial complex. That particular brick edifice was known as building number 12 — hence the name of the restaurant.

The same hospitality group already owns Evo Kitchen + Bar, Evo X and the Chebeague Island Inn.


Troy R. Bennett

Troy R. Bennett is a Buxton native and longtime Portland resident whose photojournalism has appeared in media outlets all over the world.