By Carol McCracken (Post $ 1,883)
The much-anticipated opening of the new Lolita, 90 Congress Street on Munjoy Hill, has now been pushed back to Memorial Day Weekend from this week said one of the owners, Guy Hernandez, this afternoon. The owners had expected to open their most recent creation this week, but that won’t happen. There is still much work to be done inside and that probably includes city inspections as well. Hernandez has other partners; his wife, Stella, and Lauren J. Reiter, of Reiter Architects & Designers.
The building is the former Hilltop Coffee Shop which still bears the same sign. It closed late last year. A look inside showed a dungeon dark interior with deep red walls and dark floors and ceiling. Maybe it’s intended to be in keeping with the American cuisine with a Mediterranean flared menu that is planned for this newest creation from the owners. The interior IS dramatic – if that is the intent. Or maybe it’s just because this former artist’s home/studio had no windows. The bar can accommodate ten drinkers and the tables eighteen eaters. There were boxes marked Crate & Barrel in the bar area apparently unpacked. Formerly, Guy and Stella ran Bar Lolita across the street which is now the new Hilltop Coffee Shop – a popular hang-out for laptoppers. But it lacks the niches where private conversations could take place and the comfortable seating that came from a couch and chairs in the entry way.
At the entrance to the new restaurant is a large chandelier constructed of numerous small iron pipes. Hopefully, it will help to light up the venue – a precious commodity especially when locals have endured a dark and stormy Maine winter.
The new Lolita, 90 Congress Street, originally had no front windows. It was Luke MacFayden, who converted it from the residence portion of an artist’s home/studio, into the Hilltop Coffee Shop. MacFayden was a former Hill resident. He and his business partner made dramatic changes to the building, including adding the front windows that are currently covered by brown paper. It was MacFayden’s intent that the Hill should always have a coffee shop. The interior of the building was crafted from barn siding of which MacFayden was very proud. His business partner who was in the wood restoration business, located the barn siding and MacFayden installed it himself. (From New York City, MacFayden’s father was a highly acclaimed architect in the City.) He enjoyed taking neighbors on tours of the interior and naming the place where every piece of vintage siding came from. MacFayden also divided the building into two businesses adding the entry way with the heavily used community bulletin board in the front. He sold the place and moved to a farm east of Portland.
Frankly, the owners could have boarded up the windows at the former BarLola and tripled the size of the bar and achieved the same dark, dungeon look without all the commotion.