“We are on the frontier of integrating with this community,” John Herrigel told Frank Collins, his electrician earlier this week. In other words, this is “Ground Zero.” John’s oyster bar is across Portland Street from the Back Bay Grill and Isa. But other than those two well established restaurants, the area is undergoing a long-planned transformation. John and his brother, Scott, who purchased the building last fall plan to be part of that transformation.
The old building at 38 Portland Street used to be an antique shop until last year. “It has good bones,” said Collins of the interior of the building. Old brick walls will surely help to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere which is reflected in John’s personality. On one wall there will be a metallic outline of the coast of Maine – specifically locations where there are oyster farms. An entrepreneur at heart, John makes wooden picture frames. Sections of a brick wall will be wooden framed with photographs of the history of the oyster industry in Maine. Seating for twenty (20) plus is planned in furniture by Artas Design, Biddeford. (The company makes custom furniture and store fixtures from recycled material.)
In addition to oysters, the menu will include lobster rolls and soup. Wine and beer will be available. The fact that The Maine Oyster Company will serve a variety of oysters is not surprising since John’s family owns a small oyster farm in Phippsburg. The supply of oysters will come from a variety of sources, since the two year old family oyster farm is small – 10,000 oysters currently. Too small for now to be the sole supplier.
“We want it to be ‘general store chic,'” said John.
To start, the hours will be “small” as well. The oyster house will be open on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 4:00 – 9:00 pm. John has a degree in economics from the University of Virginia. Please visit The Maine Oyster Company website for much more information.