The attractions that made East Bayside a destination — and where the locals go in Portland’s other neighborhoods.
Brew it and they will come?
Portland’s East Bayside neighborhood has gone from an industrial no-man’s-land to a highly hip destination over the last decade or so, largely because of all the brewers and tasting rooms that have opened up there.
Lone Pine Brewing, Urban Farm Fermentory, Rising Tide Brewing Co. and Maine Craft Distilling are among those who’ve had a hand in helping people find East Bayside. A few years ago the only reason most Portlanders went down there was to rent a truck at the U-Haul place.
“I think they are definitely a draw. You get breweries, then restaurants in a neighborhood, and people will come,” said Clayton Norris, 35, who recently moved to East Bayside and plans to open an eastern Mediterranean restaurant called Baharat on Anderson Street by the end of the year. “It’s close to downtown but feels like it’s own place. When we got the chance to become a part of this new part of Portland, we jumped at it.”
Norris will be opening his restaurant in the ground building of a new 53-apartment complex called 89 Anderson. The building, on the former site of a tire and auto repair shop, features one-bedroom apartments starting at $1,450 a month and two-bedrooms beginning at $1,950.
“We were looking at this site for a while, in the nexus of an evolving neighborhood,” said the building’s developer, Jonathan Culley. “It’s still not for everybody, but the appeal for a lot of people is strong.”
East Bayside is the area bordered roughly by Washington Avenue and Franklin Street, and stretching from Back Cove up the hill to Congress Street. It’s close to Munjoy Hill, downtown and the Old Port.
The neighborhood is compact, and it’s walkability is helped by the Bayside Trail, a biking and walking path that cuts through the heart of the district and connects to the Back Cove and Eastern Prom trails.
While walking in East Bayside, there are plenty of places to stop these days.
For a bite to eat, people will soon be able to get take-out from Baharat at 91 Anderson St. or sit down in its 28-seat dining room. Norris and his wife, Jenna Friedman, had been running a food truck called CN Shawarma, specializing in shawarma, falafel and cuisine of the eastern Mediterranean. He’s not sure if the truck will keep running.
There are also places to just hang out and have a coffee with friends. The long-time Portland coffee house Coffee By Design now has a coffee bar at 1 Diamond St., which has become a focal point of the neighborhood.
As befitting a hip, developing neighborhood, art plays a role. A mosaic mural is currently being created on the back wall of Coffee By Design, using the technique of Senegalese glass painting as well as donated materials such as pottery and tile pieces.
Running With Scissors Artists Studios and the Bayside Clay Center, both at 250 Anderson St., offer studio space for artists plus community open studio events throughout the year.
For an evening’s entertainment, East Bayside has one of the city’s little-known treasures, Mayo Street Arts. Housed in a former church at 10 Mayo St., this funky venue hosts music, comedy, and puppet shows — lots of puppet shows.
And then there are the above-mentioned places to buy a beer, or some other brewed beverage. Rising Tide Brewing Co., 103 Fox St., is a popular maker of beers sold in local stores and bars. But they have their own tasting room open just about everyday, usually in the afternoon and early evening. They also give tours.
Urban Farm Fermentory, 200 Anderson St., not only serves up kombucha and cider in their big but cozy tasting room, the space is a hub of activity for the neighborhood. They’ve hosted live music, craft workshops and a “Maker’s Market” for local artisans on Saturday afternoons. They even host weddings.
“People were a little scared to come down here at first,” said Urban Farm’s Eli Cayer, who started the business in 2010. “Being neglected for a lot of years kept rents low and that helped all these places start moving in. Now it’s a fermentation destination.