The Wrap: Prairie Baking opens at former Nissen; Bam Bam coming to Falmouth

Nov. 22—Prairie Baking Co. bakery and cafe has opened in the former Nissen Bakery building.

Owner Elizabeth Rzoska said Prairie opened Saturdayin the 1,700-square-foot space at 44 Romasco Lane, adjacent to the new bar Night Mares. The bar is a partner venture, for which Rzoska also supplies baked goods and other food.

Rzoska had planned to open the new Prairie space this summer, but her workload baking custom wedding cakes delayed the project until the fall. "In wedding season this summer, I was pretty busy with wedding orders, and the bar added a good amount of work on top of that," she explained. "So I just waited until the wedding season was pretty much over and I felt like it was more under control."

Prairie — launched more than three years ago with a focus on baked-to-order cakes — had been located in the prep kitchen of the former Drifters Wife on Washington Avenue. Rzoska said her new bakery and cafe will offer items like drip coffee and hot tea, scones, coffee cake, cookies, brownies, cake by the slice, quiche, and granola with yogurt.

Prairie Baking Co. will be open Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Going forward, the store will be open on Saturdays, starting Dec. 2, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

"I feel like it seems like more of a pop-up than an actual opening," Rzoska laughed, noting how Prairie will only be open on Saturdays for the near future. She hopes to expand her hours of operation eventually, but first aims to hire another staffer and strike a balance between cake orders and her in-store retail baked goods business.

"We'll probably concentrate on the retail aspect and accept fewer cake orders for a while," she said. "It's a lot of work for one person, currently."

BAM BAM BAKERY TO RELAUNCH IN FALMOUTH

After a yearlong absence, gluten-free Bam Bam Bakery hopes to reopen later this year in Falmouth.

Owner Tina Cromwell said she's leased the 1,900-square-foot location of the former Ela Market & Grill at 125 Bucknam Road, noting that the space is well equipped for Bam Bam's needs.

"(The former tenants) took a variety store and completely outfitted it with a hood system and a walk-in freezer and fridge, so it's kind of dreamy for me," she said, noting that she'll add her own convection ovens to the kitchen in the coming weeks.

Cromwell hopes to open before the December holidays, though she allowed that the permitting and licensing processes will largely determine the timeline.

Bam Bam's new site will sell a number of their customers' favorites, Cromwell said, including cinnamon rolls, coffee cake, cupcakes, chicken pot pie, bagels and honey oat bread. All the bakery's products are gluten-free, and about 90% of them are also dairy-free "because those two things go hand in hand for a lot of people," Cromwell said.

Bam Bam first launched on Commercial Street in 2011, where it operated until 2020, becoming a staple for many in the local gluten-free community. Cromwell said once the pandemic set in, the bakery wasn't able to bring in enough revenue to stay open. "It's like 2020 forced us to pull the plug on that space," she said.

Cromwell reopened Bam Bam in 2021 after securing a one-year lease on a Brighton Avenue space, but then closed again in 2022. She called her new space in Falmouth the "perfect site."

"It's perfect because there's parking, because of its location right off the highway and the ability to get to it easily," Cromwell said. "And it has a hood setup and a walk-in. Before, I just had four or five refrigerator/freezers that I'd pile stuff into, so a walk-in is very appealing."

Cromwell said the hood system will allow Bam Bam to prepare more savory foods like breakfast and lunch sandwiches, pizzas and grab-and-go dinners. "Whereas Bam Bam is definitely a bakery, this (location) is going to allow us to do a little bit more with what we've got.

"I'm getting lots of feedback, people are very excited we're coming back," Cromwell added. "The reputation is definitely there as a brand. I like to think we'll just expand on that."

NEW LIFE FOR PAELLA SEAFOOD

The owners of Paella Seafood plan to reopen their restaurant next month in the former home of Pizzaiolo on Forest Avenue.

Husband-and-wife team Casey and Dahlia Jabrawi said they're looking to relaunch Paella Seafood in the 4,000-square-foot space at 865 Forest Ave. by mid-December. The Jabrawis closed Paella Seafood in September 2021 after a fire damaged their previous location at 849 Forest Ave.

Paella Seafood first opened in 2020, and serves dishes like its eponymous seafood paella, along with seafood kebabs, seafood lasagna, salmon steak burgers, lobster rolls, lobster mac-n-cheese bites and crispy baby squid.

The Jabrawis said they will be adding a Turkish coffee bar to the existing bar in the new space.

NEW SPORTS BAR TAKES OVER THE SNUG

A new sports bar called Jerome's is set to open in Portland's East End where The Snug is closing.

Sasha Salzberg, Evan Carroll and Ian Daly hope to have Jerome's up and running in January. Their focus will be airing New England sports games, but patrons also will find snowboarding, skateboarding and surfing on the TVs. The partners said they saw a void when Rivalries closed its Portland location in February 2022.

"There's a need for a sports bar in Portland," Daly said. "It's just a bar I'd like to hang out at."

Margaret Lyons, owner of The Snug, announced Wednesday on social media that she will close the longtime "Irish-ish" pub on Congress Street. She said that she met "three lovely people" with plans for the space but did not reveal any details. "They have a new vision, but I have the utmost faith that you'll love what they get up to!" Lyons wrote on Instagram.

Jerome's is named for Daly's father, a big sports fan who died when Daly was 13. The owners said in the cover letter for their liquor license application that they would offer a full bar and a small food menu of cold sandwiches, salads and snacks. They plan to operate Thursday through Monday.

"We hope our aesthetic and management approach will link the East End Neighborhood with the New England pro-sports culture, Maine outdoor adventure culture, and urban boarding culture in an atmosphere that welcomes all to 'come as you are,' " Salzberg wrote in the letter.

DINING OUT FOR THANKSGIVING

For anyone still looking to enjoy a Thanksgiving feast out on the town, check out the Press Herald's guide, Where to Eat Out on Thanksgiving in Maine. The rundown lists more than 20 prix fixe dinners, buffets and takeout meals available from Biddeford to Bangor, along with menu details, pricing and seating information and helpful links for reservations.

Staff Writer Megan Gray contributed to this report.