Cafe & Event Space Planned For Old Six Mile Falls Store in Bangor
Last month, we told you that the old Six Mile Falls Store, that's been closed since 2019, might soon open under new management.
The familiar fixture, which has stood along outer Broadway for more than 70 years, caught the eye, and the imagination of Chef Bethany Gregory. Gregory has been looking for any excuse to open up a business in Maine, the state that has captured her imagination and her heart during several visits to the state.
"It reminded me just really how much I love Maine. When I go to Maine, I really just feel like it speaks to my soul. There's something that just, no matter what's going on--it's sedated by the fact that I just feel so calm and at peace there."
Originally from upstate New York, Gregory studied culinary arts in Pittsburgh, before moving to Philadelphia to work under 2nd Season Iron Chef winner, Jose Garces. She ultimately ended up opening her own place, Tween The Tides in Provincetown, Massachusetts. But as many who visit here do, she set her sights and her future goals to land one day in Maine.
"I feel like the general population of this area is very much like what I grew up in. I grew up in a sportsman's family. My father hunts and fishes and works construction for a living, so a very blue-collar family is exactly how I was raised. "
At first, she thought she might like to open a spot in one of the coastal towns, but then thought she'd like it better to create a spot she could open that would have year-round, not just seasonal traffic.
Expanding her search, she started working with a realtor, who ultimately brought the old Six Mile Falls store to her attention. But the process was much more involved than expected, and the owner of the building was very selective about who he would even consider letting in to look at the space, Gregory said.
"This place has such a rich history. He wanted someone who had a vision, not just someone who was going to go in and throw things on a shelf and not do something good with it."
The building, which consists of the store on the bottom floor and connected living space, is owned by local businessman, Stephen Pray, who also owns nearby Pray's Auto Sales. Gregory said he bought the building so that could retain that history, and not become commercialized. Once Pray put Gregory on a shortlist of potentials, she drove to Maine in December of 2021 to look at the building.
"I didn't walk in seeing it like it is now; I walked in seeing it like I want it to look like."
Shortly after her December trip, Gregory signed the lease.
She has a number of fresh ideas and a very specific vision of what she would like to do with the place.
"Against the back wall there is an entire drink cooler and then a little cooler that was for the meats and stuff. Along the right side, I'm going to actually put in a bar, and that's where the coffee is going to be served. I'm putting some butcher-block tables in the back area for people to sit and mingle and have their coffee and fresh baked goods or specialty sandwiches and things like that. It's not going to be a place where you have to stop and grab your coffee and leave.
Being a self-proclaimed "coffee snob", Gregory says she definitely wants to incorporate good coffee prepared by skilled baristas.
"It'll have the coffee shop vibe of a soda fountain, basically."
Gregory also plans to set up a specialized counter with induction burners under the island topper, where she could host cooking classes, gatherings and do some in-house catering.
She has plans to manicure the landscaping and also create an outdoor event space on-site, as well.
She says there is one question she does keep getting (likely because her current spot is a vegetarian/vegan restaurant)...
"I know that people are kind of curious if I'm going to keep the butcher aspect of the place."
Gregory says, first and foremost, being the daughter of an avid hunter and fisherman, she knows that like her dad, many Mainers are all about meat. And she gets that. While she will have some vegetarian/vegan options, this new place will be different than her place in Massachusetts. And while she has some ideas of how to incorporate the aspect of an in-house butcher down the road, her immediate plans don't include that...yet.
"So my goal, for sure, is to have the coffee, for sure the made-to-order items and a lot of grab-and-go items for the people who are commuting and back and forth to work, so if they want to grab something that they can throw in a microwave and heat up for lunch, they have it."
Gregory says she can take possession of the building on April 1st and will start the process of renovating the space, with the help of her dad, immediately. She says barring any unforeseen issues, she'd love to have the place up and running by the summer.