On Thursday, Portland’s Zoning Board of Appeals will hear a Conditional Use Appeal Application from AMA LLC, — Arlin Smith, Mike Wiley and Andrew Taylor — owners of Portland’s popular Hugo’s and Eventide Oyster Co., to turn the ground floor of 34 Vannah Ave. into a 28-seat casual restaurant.
34 Vannah Ave. in the Woodford’s Corner neighborhood of Portland, the possible future home of Vannah St. Tavern, which would be the third Portland restaurant owned by Arlin Smith, Mike Wiley and Andrew Taylor. Photo from Google maps.
According to the appeal application, “Vannah St. Tavern” (the potential name) will be “a warm, cozy, welcoming restaurant that will put a premium on hospitality.” The plan is to serve dinner only, Wednesday through Sunday. “Very simply, it will not be a bar, loud music will not be welcome and any disorderly conduct will not be tolerated.”
More from the application:
While the food at Hugo’s and Eventide Oyster Co. has received universal acclaim, 34 Vannah St. will venture in a different direction. The concise menu — scrawled daily on a chalkboard — will be more casual, more visceral, more familiar, and more affordable, taking its cues from restaurants like Joe Beef in Montreal, Le Pigeon in Portland, OR, or Husk in Charleston. While a hearty red wine braised beef with short rib might feel out of place at Hugo’s or Eventide, it would be right at home at 34 Vannah St. — as would a whole roasted monkfish tail, a perfectly grilled porterhouse steak, or a plate of fried smelts.
Focused on classic cocktails, a well balanced draft line and a unique list of high-value wines, the beverage program will be ideal for those saddling up to the ten-seat curved bar for a drink and a conversation with the bartender or sharing an intimate table and a bottle of wine with a loved one. With antique furniture, tables of reclaimed wood and walls lined with wainscotting and wallpaper, the space will feel warm and well-worn, like your grandmother’s house.
A lease has not yet been signed between the restaurateurs and the property owner, Stephen Mardigan; however a letter from him included with the application confirms that he is “in full support of this use” of the ground floor of his building. The lease is in negotiations pending “some feedback from an engineer as to the sprinkler requirements,” according to the letter.
This is not the first time the location has been considered for a restaurant. Last June, Portland residents Birch Shambaugh and Mary Fayth Preyer, potential purchasers of the building, filed a Zoning Board of Appeals application for a 46-seat restaurant in the same space. It is unclear why that plan did not materialize.