Loyalty goes a long way in a town with as much restaurant turnover as Portland, and the food truck-to-restaurant transition is becoming more common amongst mobile kitchens. Small Axe, a well-loved food truck, started the trend when they took over East Ender. More recently, C.N. Shawarma became Baharat, Mami opened a restaurant on Fore Street, and Highroller Lobster Co. became a brick and mortar space on Exchange.
Now Locally Sauced, a popular fixture at breweries and events around Southern Maine, is set to open in the space previously occupied by Big J’s Chicken Shack on Thompson’s Point. The restaurant will maintain a take-out window in the vestibule entryway to Bissell Brothers, and continue to operate as a BYOB spot, but the food will be a clear departure from the space’s previous inhabitant. Charlie and Aimee Ely, who have been running the cart for several years, will bring their signature burritos and tacos. Charlie recently bought a smoker and started doing his own barbeque, which will also feature heavily on the menu. I chatted with Aimee about what to expect from the new restaurant.
The Phoenix: What was it about Thompson’s Point that made it an appealing choice as a spot to finally put down roots?
Aimee Ely: There were a lot of factors. Our initial decision to seek out a brick and mortar space was the fact that catering is super seasonal. We were hoping to find something of a routine for the sake of our kids. What we were doing was awesome and a lot of fun, but very unpredictable and sporadic. When the opportunity for this space opened up it felt like a perfect situation given the relationship we had with Bissell and the Point already.
The Phoenix: Walk me through the menu a bit. Charlie’s always been very willing to experiment and try new things, but what can we expect as mainstays for the new spot?
Aimee Ely: We’ll be staying pretty true to what we do currently. You’ll be able to get burritos and tacos all the time, with variations similar to the way we do it on the cart. The barbecue menu will be part of it as well, things like pulled pork sandwiches, sides, fries. We’ll do brisket. Then we’ll run daily specials based on both what Charlie wants to try and what’s seasonally available.
The Phoenix: Will you be sourcing a lot produce and other stuff locally?
Aimee Ely: As with the cart, everything we can get locally we will get locally. One thing we’re hoping to do that we haven’t been able to do with the cart is use locally sourced meat, because we’ll actually be able to buy whole animals. With North Star Farm, who we work with a lot when we cater pig roasts, you have to buy the whole pig. Now, we’ll have the opportunity to butcher a whole pig, and then cook the pieces as we need them. We have a few other farms we’ve been working with for years, so we’re excited to ramp up our relationships with them as well.
The Phoenix: Will you be running the smoker on-site on the Point?
Aimee Ely: We’ll have the smoker there, yeah. It won’t be there every day, it’ll probably be running more on the less busy days. We’ll probably have it out in front of the restaurant.
The Phoenix: How is the service going to look?
Aimee Ely: Our plan is to create a bit of a hang out space, with a good amount of that to-go flow. We’ll be doing tray service, but it’ll be BYOB, so we’ll definitely be encouraging people to come in and sit down and enjoy themselves. We’ll be changing the seating around and hopefully adding a bit more seating. One of us, either Charlie or myself, will always be there on site, Wednesday to Sunday, and we’ll have a few employees, but we want to be very hands-on with it, especially in the beginning. We want to keep that cart feel, we want people to come up and get really good food, and really good service. We want people to learn about what they’re eating, and a bit about us in the process.
Locally Sauced | 4 Thompson's Point Rd, Portland