Portland Press Herald, Maine, June 20, 2011
By Kelley Bouchard
FREEPORT--The village center has several new and soon-to-open businesses this summer, including Linda Bean's Maine Kitchen & Topside Tavern.
Bean's latest venture will occupy three stories at Main and Bow streets, directly across from the flagship L.L. Bean store founded by her grandfather.
Set to open by July 1, Bean's restaurant will feature classic Maine fare and the village's first second-floor balcony overlooking Main Street, said Sande Updegraph, executive director of Freeport Economic Development Corp.
Linda Bean's Perfect Maine Lobster Roll will continue to operate in a kiosk across Main Street, on the L.L. Bean campus.
Here's a rundown of other new ventures this season:
--The Fresh Batch, Island Treasure Toys and Freeport Factory Stage on Bow Street.
--Maynard's Chocolates, Jill McGowan, Cape Madras, Vervacious and Vineyard Vines on Main Street.
--Talbot's, Corning Ware and Lindt Chocolates in Freeport Village Station, a year-old courtyard mall off Bow and Main streets.
Bean's restaurant is among several new, Maine-based businesses in the village center, where the commercial vacancy rate has dropped from 13.7 percent last year to 12.6 percent this year, Updegraph said.
The Fresh Batch, a homestyle, locally sourced restaurant, will open by early July at 20 Bow St., according to owners Frank Grondin of Freeport and Drew Victory of Pownal. The ground-level space had been occupied by a Samsonite Factory Store, which moved into Freeport Village Station.
Upstairs from The Fresh Batch is a new spot for Island Treasure Toys of Yarmouth. Maynard's Chocolates, Vervacious specialty condiments and the Jill McGowan and Cape Madras clothing stores are also Maine-based businesses, Updegraph said.
Connecticut-based Vineyard Vines features coastal preppy clothing and Maryland-based Guyette & Schmitt is a duck decoy auction firm. Freeport Factory Stage will present a Shakespeare Festival this summer.
Looking ahead, Nordica Cinema, a six-screen movie theater, is expected to open in November on the ground floor of Freeport Village Station, which includes a free, 550-space parking garage.
In addition, a passenger platform for the Downeaster will be built this fall along the train tracks on Depot Street, in preparation for Amtrak service to start in the fall of 2012.
L.L. Bean continues to develop its pedestrian-oriented campus with an ongoing landscaping project in front of the flagship store on Main Street, where a Ben & Jerry's ice cream stand was located for years. The stand has moved further onto the campus, near the L.L. Bean Home Store.
Some significant storefronts remain vacant, Updegraph said, namely the former Brooks Brothers outlet at Bow and Depot streets and the former Coach outlet on Main Street. Both moved into Freeport Village Station.
In addition, several businesses have closed recently, including the Monroe Saltworks pottery store and The Maine Dog pet supply store.
Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at: