I prayed for a good sandwich as I entered The Point early one evening, which seemed appropriate since the 92,000-square-foot space includes a megachurch, as well as a community center and cafe.
The cafe is run by Mainely Wraps, a familiar sandwich shop with multiple locations in the greater Portland area. Foodwise, I knew what to expect, but I thought it would be interesting to see what it’s like to eat in a place that has an indoor soccer field, a gymnasium and an indoor playground for kids, complete with a corkscrew slide.
I arrived shortly after 5:30 p.m., and it was relatively quiet. Four older men sat around a table, chatting and sipping coffee and other drinks. A woman sat on a comfy faux leather sofa, scrolling through her smartphone. A small group of kids played soccer next to the cafe – a floor-to-ceiling net separates the two so you won’t get bonked in the head and go to meet Jesus before your time.
Mainely Wraps serves a selection of wraps, paninis, salads, soups and baked goods. I walked up to the counter and ordered a Club Sebago panini ($7.99) – made with roasted turkey, bacon, avocado, provolone, lettuce, tomato and ample aioli on a ciabatta roll – and a bottled drink. The soup of the day was jerk chicken, but I decided to pass. The woman who took my order told me I could have a seat and handed me a pager that would buzz when my order was ready. The pager had a note attached to it: “Please return to children’s ministry,” a reminder that just down the hall something much more sacred than soccer was going on.
The wraps range from $7.49 to $8.49, while the paninis start at $6.99 and go to $8.49. Meats used in the sandwiches are roasted chicken, crispy chicken, turkey and beef. There are also a couple of fish (salmon and tuna) and vegetarian options. The desserts were nearly sold out when I was there, but the menu listed treats such as peanut butter toffee cookies, brown butter snickerdoodles and salted caramel chocolate chip cookie bars.
On Sundays only, the cafe serves Union bagels and Tony’s Donuts.
I had been told that the cafe could seat 150, and a previous story we wrote about the space set the number at 100. Between the many wooden tables and the plusher sofas and arm chairs that are available, I estimated seating for around 75. One sofa arrangement looked more like banquette seating, and at one point, a group of women took over the spot with their small children and pulled out food they’d brought from home, so the whole arrangement is very casual. It was like eating dinner in a gym.
While I ate my sandwich, which was accompanied by homemade potato chips that had soaked up a lot of grease, I watched the kids play soccer, their yells echoing off the walls, and listened to the three flat-screen TVs suspended from the ceiling, all tuned to the same sports channel. On the wall next to the soccer field was a sign listing the five commandments of the turf (or, as the sign actually said, “Turf Guidelines”). No. 3 was my favorite, and one that I wish had actually been in the Old Testament: Clean up after yourself.
Occasionally, someone walked by holding a Bible. Although the facility, which is a former big-box retail space, is open to the public and is considered a community space, I found that, like many churches, it has the guilt vibe down pat: While I was indulging in a few of those greasy chips, for example, three women walked by carrying yoga mats, on their way to an exercise class. Was this a message from the divine?
Just in case, when I left, I was carrying a salad to go, which I planned to eat the next day for lunch.
WHERE: 345 Clarks Pond Parkway, South Portland; facebook.com/MWthePoint or 207-808-9573
HOURS: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday
WAIT: About 10 minutes
PARKING: Huge parking lot
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes