Even as the temperatures drop and we head into hibernation mode for winter, Portland's drinking, dining, nightlife, and shopping scenes continue to evolve. Here's a round-up of comings and goings:
The independent movie house MOVIES ON EXCHANGE is leaving its 32-year, name-affording home on lower Exchange Street and moving to the PORTLAND MUSEUM OF ART, where it will be known as the Movies at the Museum. In some ways, this is a return for co-owner and film professor Steve Halpert, who showed movies at the museum during the 1970s, and who's owned the theater with his wife Judy since 1980. PMA's director of education, Dana Baldwin, says the Halperts will work closely with the museum to carry forward the Movies' mission to bring high-quality alternative, foreign, and classic films to Portland. The partnership will also afford the PMA a chance to expand its audience, and the scope of its exhibits, thereby making "the museum an even more exciting, bustling place," she said. For example, during this winter's "Backstage Pass: Rock & Roll Photography" exhibit, the Movies at the Museum plans to screen rock-related films. Visit portlandmuseum.org/events/movies for more info.
Since moving a few doors down Free Street, ARABICA has doubled its business, insiders say.
A very nice gentleman at the corporate headquarters of PAPAYA KING in New York City confirmed that James Estabrook, who previously operated a Papaya King cart in Deering Oaks Park, will open a franchise at 5 Dana Street, where Big Mama's Diner used to be. Estabrook, reached via e-mail, says he hopes to open his doors by mid-December, with no major changes inside the space. Papaya King hot dogs, incidentally, are "tastier than filet mignon," according to the parent company's Web site.
PORT CITY MUSIC HALL at 504 Congress Street (the old Keystone Theatre/upstairs of the Stadium), plans to have its first major event on New Year's Eve (with performers TBA). The developers are currently hiring staff. Earlier this month, they submitted their "non-conforming signage" application to the city, which would allow them to remove the huge "The Stadium" lettering from above the door; they hope to replace it with a 1940s-style marquee.
BINGA'S WINGAS and the AL-MUSTAQIM HALAL MARKET, on Congress Street near Maine Medical Center, burned over the weekend, along with nearby residential apartments. It's unclear how the three-alarm fire (which means multiple fire stations sent trucks and firefighters) started, but the spaces are now inhospitable. Reached by phone, Binga's co-owner Alec Altman said he is "intent on rebuilding." Altman also wants to set up a fund to help his out-of-work employees and (if sufficient cash is raised) others whose lives were affected by the fire (we think this means the people who lived/worked there, not people who really love Chernobyl sauce). Despite this "setback," Altman is moving forward on several other Binga's-related endeavors; he submitted a site plan to the city on Tuesday for an East End Binga's at the corner of Washington Avenue and Congress Street, and is hoping to close on a place in Yarmouth early next year. The owners of the Halal Market, who couldn't be reached and whose voice mailbox is full, are likely less optimistic.
Rumor has it that Brunswick-based OLIVE'S VINTAGE, a favorite among in-the-know vintage fashionistas, is considering moving to Portland!