BABA’S on Peaks Island Has Big Ideas for a Big Future


Natasha Markol-Riss andTed McNally, Co-owners of the New BABA’s on Island Avenue on Peaks Island.

BABA’s is Located in an Extensively Rundown Home on Peaks Island.

Pi Crosby and Calvin Foster, High School Sophmores, Show Their “Ultimate Peaks Island Guide”For Sale for $5.00.  Their Table is on Island Avenue.  Just Turn Left at the Top of the Hill and Walk a Few Steps to  Their Table.

Gus Pignatello, Lead Barista.  at BABA’s.

It’s the first expresso bar on Peaks Island. And it’s quite possibly only the beginning of other firsts on Peaks Island according to the co-owners of this two month old business, Natasha Markol-Riss and Ted McNally today.

Although some small businesses on Peaks reported slightly slower than normal tourist business attributed to price gouging by gas companies and inflation, those factors did not seem to be at play at this cafe today.  BABA’s was busy selling cold drinks and in-house baked goods at a fast pace.

BABA is the Russian name for grandmother.  And its Natasha’s grandmother for whom the cafe is named:  Tatyana Voinana was born in Estonia. Following World War 11, she left and moved to the United States.  She moved to Peaks Island around 1970 because there was an enclave of Russians living here.  In 1970, Natasha’s grandmother Tatyana bought a home on Upper A Street for $500.  As a child, Natasha spent her summers on Peaks Island with her grandmother.  Times have changed.  Now her grandmother, who is 83, and lives in Portland,  comes out to visit her granddaughter at her namesake business on Peaks Island.

As an undergraduate student at Swarthmore College, Natasha said she spent time in a coffee shop in Beirut reading – a motivation for part of the big plans for the future at BABA’s on Peaks Island.

Plans are preliminary, but Natasha and Ted are exploring ideas to implement a ticketed dinner with both indoor and outdoor seating later this summer.  The view of the waterfront is exceptional.  The possibility of opening a bookstore at BABA’s is also under consideration – another first on Peaks Island and a special interest of Ted’s who was an English major at Williams College.

“We have definitely limited our travel because of gas prices and inflation,” said Andy Abbott who was visiting Peaks with his wife for a family wedding.  “We aren’t going anywhere except to Peaks this summer, because it’s too expensive otherwise,” said Danielle Abbott as they entered BABA’s for a cold drink.

Just to be sure you can find your way around Peaks, you might want to invest $5.00 to purchase “The Ultimate Peaks Island Guide” created by Pi Crosby and his business partner and friend, Calvin Foster.  They are both high school sophmores in Portland.  “There are not a lot of great resources for visitors to Peaks.  People have questions when they get off the ferry.  LIke where is a good place to eat, where are the restrooms, what is there to do here?” said Pi.  Last year they sold 600 copies.  The colorful Guide was redesigned this year and is back for sale. “This has a map of the Island, a scavenger hunt, fun facts and answers to frequently asked questions.  What more could you ask for?,” asked Paul Flattery who was visitng Peaks from Colorado.  He purchased a Guide because he wanted a map of the Island.


One thought on “BABA’S on Peaks Island Has Big Ideas for a Big Future

  1. I love Baba’s! what a great addition to Peaks—I can’t wait to get a blueberry scone and oat milk cappuccino next time I come to the island…

Comments are closed.