As businesses in Maine step into the new normal, we reached out to friends & fans of Portland Downtown to find out what they're thinking, feeling, and experiencing as they begin to revisit local shops & restaurants. Below you'll find their open and honest words – and we hope that you'll find these insights helpful and reassuring. If you'd like to share your own recent downtown experience, simply reply to this email. We'd love to hear from you!

Please note: As more people patronize downtown businesses, the public's health, safety, and well-being is our highest priority. We love the new "Let's Be Kind" campaign created by the Retail Association of Maine, Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce, and Maine Grocer and Food Producers Association. It's a great reminder that we can all be safer – and kinder! – if we plan ahead, respect others, and take precautions. Thank you for supporting local businesses safely!
"We've been visiting Gorgeous Gelato since day 1 of quarantine. We live over 45 minutes away, but the trip is a fun way for my family to safely leave our home and enjoy a delicious treat while supporting local businesses. The owners had initially set up a call program, but have a new online, contact free pick up system as well. This little slice of Portland (and Italy) has been a treasure."

Amy H.
"Absolutely loved the open streets! The restaurants were very busy and full with waiting lists, so we walked down to King's Head Pub. Awesome outside dining with great food and drinks. Definitely going to keep shopping and eating local!"

"I am ecstatic to see the Old Port alive and bustling again; it  almost feels like a city again. It seems 2 out of 3 people follow guidelines to wear a mask and keep 6' from each other. I've been especially proud of our businesses who have taken guidelines both seriously and creatively. I have felt welcomed, comfortable, and safe at the places I've visited since the grand re-open. Among these: Rising Tide Brewing, Thirsty Pig, N to Tail, Petite Jacqueline, Gilbert's Chowder House, Porthole, Mash Tun, Eaux, and Yosaku."

Cashel S.
"My wife and I live in the Old Port area and have enjoyed watching everything come to life. We've eaten outside a couple times. Maybe this Thursday will be our first indoor dining at Street & Company. We have reservations. If it's nice out - I still prefer outside!

Here are a few of my experiences (I haven't had a "scary" or bad experience yet):

Thirsty Pig: Only outside so far. Everyone using masks. Lots of room on the deck & in front. Only drank beers - 3 different days!

Independent Ice Company:  Good table spacing outside. Everyone using masks. Cold beers.

The Highroller Lobster Co.: Outside only still. Masks for all employees. Great back outdoor space. Five huge picnic tables in front. Amazing food (Lobster Grilled Cheese!)

Garden Café at Portland Regency: Great outdoor space in the shade. Went for drinks & food on two different occasions. Masks & very friendly staff.

Portland Lobster Company: All wearing masks. Felt very spaced out. Live music. Lobster roll & Shipyard Summer beers!

Mash Tun: Employees wearing shields. Wasn't crowded. Sat at a barrel for two and had beers only (We love their food).

Portland Schooner Company: Sunset sail. Only 3 people on the sailboat besides 3 crew. All wore masks. 15 person max on sailboat (Usually they have 40 people).

King's Head Pub: Only outside. Very spaced out tables in the parking lot. All wearing masks. Good food & great beer selection.

Maine Beer Company (Freeport): Everyone with masks. Outdoor - under a huge tent. Reserve tables for 90 minutes only. BEST pizza ever!

Luke's Lobster -  All wearing masks. Two open spaces to eat and a lot of tables! Food is always great, too. Lobster rolls for sure!

Middle Street closed off near India Street: Great outdoor seating for  Eventide, Honey Paw, East Ender, and Duckfat.

As you can see, we're doing our best to share the wealth in the Old Port by eating & drinking as much as possible!"

Ross M.
"I've tried to support as many local restaurants, stores, venues, and artists as possible and will continue to do so. The Sock ShackCellardoor Winery, Three of Strong, The Green Hand Bookshop, Letterpress Books, and Print are all doing a remarkable job at following local guidelines and finding options that make me feel safe. The Green ElephantBaoBaoLio, David's, and Local 188 (as well as Grocer 188) are fabulous – easy to order from and very safe pick-up conditions.

I thank those establishments who have implemented the guidelines deftly enough to make me feel safe and will continue to support as many as possible from a distance."

Kathryn M.
"I continue to like the idea of curbside pickup for food or goods – would kind of like to see that stay year round!

I have missed going out on the Mail Boat. I don't want to be an added complication for those who require regular transport on the boat, and am not quite ready to pack onto the deck yet. That is what I most miss and most look forward to experiencing again – when the time is right. I'll keep my fingers crossed for Merry Madness, but will be prepared to raise a glass and toast from home, even if we can't all come together. It's still my favorite downtown event of the year."