The Wrap: A new Public Market House food stall hones its strategy on the fly

The grilled mac & cheese sandwich at Soni’s Market Place, the food stall that opened earlier this month at the Public Market House in Portland. Photo courtesy of Soni’s Market Place

The owner of Jamaican restaurant Yardie Ting has opened a second food stall upstairs at the Public Market House in the former Kamasouptra space – Soni’s Market Place.

Veteran restaurateur Shanna Kay, who has run Yardie Ting at the Public Market House since 2019 and in other locations for five years before that, says she’s already tweaking her business plan at Soni’s to meet the demands of customers.

Wright had initially planned for Soni’s Market Place to sell grab-and-go breakfast and lunch food like sandwiches and pasta bowls. But after opening on Oct. 3, Wright found customers were less interested in cold or room-temperature foods.

“Nobody wants that right now,” she laughed. “In business, you have to adapt.”

So like a true pro, Wright worked with her manager to revamp Soni’s menu on the fly. The stall now features hot comfort food like grilled mac & cheese sandwiches and hot Italian sliders, and meals range between $10-$15.

She said spaghetti and meatballs has been a particularly strong seller from the new menu, popular in particular with students from Portland High School who frequent the Public Market House. Soni’s also sells desserts and breakfast sandwiches all day.

Wright said she may reintroduce the grab-and-go items in the warmer weather. She also aims to eventually stock food and other merchandise from local micro-businesses, to help increase their exposure.

Soni’s is named for Wright’s daughter, who died in 2011 at the age of 5. Wright said Soni’s stall is decorated with bright pops of pink – Soni’s favorite color – in tribute to her daughter’s vivacious spirit.

“I’ve been wanting to do something ever since to commemorate her, something in her name,” Wright said.

MAINE APPLE TASTING AT ROSEMONT

Rosemont Market & Wine Bar is hosting an apple tasting next week featuring fruit from three area orchards.

The Maine Apple Tasting event is set for Wednesday, Oct. 19 at Rosemont’s wine bar at Thompson’s Point from 5 to 7 pm Rosemont spokesperson Holly Martzial said the tasting will include varieties like Enterprise and Gold Rush from Orchard Ridge Farm in Gorham, as well as Northern Spy, Empire and Macoun apples from Kelly Orchards in Acton and Brackett Orchard in Limington.

Sam Van Aken, an apple expert and the artist behind the Trees of 40 Fruits, will be on hand for an apple-centric discussion with Rosemont owner John Naylor.

The event will also offer four New England cheeses to pair with the apples: Opus 42, from Merdiven Gorges Cheese in Waldoboro; Bradbury Mountain Blue, from Winter Hill Farm in Freeport; along with Alpha Tolman and Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, both from Vermont’s Jasper Hill Farm.

The bar will spotlight hard cider from Freedom’s Edge Cidery in Albion, and the cidermaker will be there to field questions, Martzial said.

SEA GLASS CHEF CHANGES CAPES

After more than six years at the helm of Sea Glass, the restaurant at Cape Elizabeth’s upscale Inn by the Sea, Executive Chef Andrew Chadwick left his position this week to return to his cooking roots on Cape Cod.

Chadwick left the Sea Glass kitchen on Sunday, a few days after launching the restaurant’s new fall menu, according to Rauni Kew, PR manager for the inn. Kew added that no replacement has yet been named, but that the inn is “exploring opportunities now.”

A Massachusetts native, Chadwick is returning to Chatham Bars Inn on Cape Cod, where he worked as executive sous chef just before taking the executive chef post at Sea Glass in 2016. This time around, Chadwick will be the executive chef at the Chatham Bars Inn .

“We are thrilled to welcome Chef Andrew Chadwick back to Chatham Bars Inn as our executive chef, a position that we know has been a dream of his since his previous tenure with us earlier in his career,” said Gary Thulander, managing director of the Chatham Bars Inn.

COPPER BRANCH CLOSES

A “For Lease” sign has gone up in the window of the downtown fast-casual vegan restaurant Copper Branch, though its Facebook page says the business is only “temporarily closed.”

The Canadian-based restaurant chain opened its Portland location at 5 Canal Plaza in December 2019. The eatery specialized in plant-based food bowls and sandwiches.

Copper Branch could not immediately be reached for comment.


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