When it comes to adult snow days, the Portland peninsula is its own perfect storm.
Dense residential neighborhoods popular with the young and childless surround a hub of bars and restaurants all in walking distance.
While many of those establishments shut down like other businesses when the weather makes traveling too treacherous, others capitalize on the sudden swell of people stuck at home with nothing to do. And a certain sector of residents has come to rely on it.
When the so-called bomb cyclone hit Maine last month, downtown Portland, normally bustling with business people, diners and shoppers during the day, was deserted. There were no cars parked at the meters, pedestrians crossing the street or lights shining through the storefronts. Yet people could be seen through the picture windows at Rosie’s on Fore Street, and Dock Fore, a pub down the block, opened early.
“We have a reputation of being open during snowstorms,” said Dock Fore owner Shaun McCarthy, who told his employees to stay home and tended bar himself. “If people know you’re going to be here, they’ll come join you.”
He said he’d had a steady stream of people coming in since he unlocked the door at 12:30 p.m. Among them were 26-year-old Alex Torgersen, who happened to have the day off anyway, and his girlfriend, whose office closed early. Going out for “storm beers” is a tradition they started when they were in college in upstate New York.
Torgersen said they “always start at Dock Fore” and, at some point, end up at Andy’s Old Port Pub on Commercial Street, near where they live. Along the way, he said, they “see how many people we can meet up with.” Sipping on $2 pints, they said they try to take advantage of happy hour specials at bars that might normally be busier than they’d like.
On the other side of Franklin Street, Tomaso’s Canteen was running a special specifically for storm drinkers: $4 craft drafts, which was brought back for last week’s storm.
Tina Aidala and Cait Caulkett, who both work at the East Ender, a nearby restaurant that closed for the day, had sledded down to Tomaso’s from Terlingua on Washington Avenue, where they fueled up on $5 snacks. There were more stops in their future, at Arcadia National Bar and The Thirsty Pig.
“I literally woke up and said, ‘I love adult snow days,’ ” said Aidala, 24. “You get to be a kid and an adult at the same time: play in the snow and drink tequila.”
Conditions for a true adult snow day are rare – when a foot or more of snow is forecast and starts falling early enough for employers to tell people not to bother coming into work. More often, accumulation throughout the day or coming later causes companies to close early.
That was the case with a storm last week that started later than predicted and eventually shut down the engineering firm where Chris Marshall and Scott Hodgdon work. They headed over to the nearby Thirsty Pig for an early happy hour. “I try to get myself out to an establishment anytime the weather is this nice,” Marshall said.
Staff photographer Ben McCanna contributed to this report.
Here’s our guide to the Ultimate Adult Snow Day Pub Crawl