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he New Year. A time that is filled with well-meaning commitments to change, that carry with them, great expectations. Goals are set, plans to execute, and the best of intentions set the scene for this ‘clean slate’, as hopes are held high for better outcomes than years past. When it comes to starting a new year, I’ve always thought about what I can do to get closer to any type of goal I may want to achieve. When I took the Editor-in-Chief position at LA Metro Magazine, I read through all the stories we compiled for this issue. I found I was even more inspired to find potential improvements for my life this year, and motivated; neither of which was expected, but are welcomed challenges. As with most goals or challenges, they are rarely accomplished alone. Ultimately, I know that I am in the driver’s seat when it comes to change and resolution, but thankfully, there are always helping hands along the way. I’ve found that I am most successful with my resolutions when I avoid being too detailed, specific or rigid about how a goal is achieved. My life has had many curve balls thrown at me and things hardly ever go as planned. So when I have to adjust my resolution, I can still achieve an ultimate goal. I also try to focus on choosing goals that not only better my life, but also the lives of those around me. Lasting change often comes from the impact we make in the world around us; making that impact positive can cause a ripple effect of change that benefits many. So whether your resolution is to be healthier, more spontaneous, more adventurous (like getting a tattoo or stepping far out of your comfort zone), become more organized, learn to enjoy the simple things, or, make it through the year without losing your mind, I hope that LA Metro Magazine will be a part of your year.

Cheers, PAM ASHBY Editor-in-chief editor@LAMetroMagazine.com



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Toby Haber-Giasson

Dan Marois

Toby hails from the bustling New York City world of P.R. and event promotion. She interviewed bands and wrote album reviews for the likes of Creem and Audio magazines.

Dan Marois is an actor, producer, writer and editor. As owner of Mystery for Hire, he has performed in 750 mystery dinner theater shows. With Mainely Improv, he does improv comedy performances as well as corporate training in using the skills of improvisation.

our editorial director

Locally, she’s logged 10 years coordinating publicity for First Universalist Church of Auburn events, co-founded UU Theatre and Pleasant Note Open Mic and Poetry Slam, which she co-hosts.

Michael Krapovicky Michael is a freelance writer and musician from Auburn. He graduated from the University of Maine Presque Isle in 1999 with a BFA. He has submitted stories and articles for various publications, and performs throughout New England as a solo guitarist and bassist. Michael enjoys traveling, hiking, and spending leisure time with family and friends.



senior writer

He is also the Administrative Director for the Maine Public Relations Council.

Karen Landry Karen Landry was born in Massachusetts and moved to Maine at age 10. Shortly thereafter she read The Outsiders, and decided she wanted to be a writer. Or a greaser. She studied Arts and Humanities at the University of Southern Maine. She still enjoys reading, writing, music, and most of all making her 5 year-old son, David, smile.

Peggy Faye Brown Peggy enjoys the art of writing, whether typed or handwritten in cursive. She brainstorms and daydreams whenever possible while working and commuting. Some poems and articles have been published and her first fiction piece was published in Goose River Anthology 2017. She enjoys writing pieces with a purpose; to commemorate the past and encourage the future.

David Muise David is a serial entrepreneur, writer, painter and player of very mediocre guitar. He fits these endeavors in around his busy fly fishing schedule.


T.S. Chamberland

Peggy DeBlois

T.S. Chamberland is a native of Lewiston who first aspired to become a writer during her sophomore year at Lewiston High School. She has written for a variety of local Maine newspapers and publications since 2006. Community and growth are of particular interest to this New England Patriots’ fan and she enjoys fitness, beachcombing, whiskey and wine tastings, as well as travel and time with family and friends.

A native of Lewiston, Peggy L. DeBlois began writing creatively as a child growing up in a French-Catholic neighborhood. A graduate of Bowdoin College, she began her career in journalism at PC Week in Boston, where she was the ghostwriter for the industry gossip columnist, Spencer the Cat. She has also worked locally as an English teacher and public relations consultant. A resident of Auburn, she recently finished her first novel.

Donna Rousseau

Heidi Sawyer

Andrew Watson

A Maine native, Donna has dedicated much of her career to assisting families as they navigate the world of eldercare. Her philosophy is “Create good by approaching all things with an open mind and a generous, honest heart”; it has served her well personally and professionally. Writing is her happy place. Her family is her heart.

Heidi Sawyer is a freelance photographer, website designer & social media guru in Lewiston.

Andrew Watson is a freelance writer from Auburn, Maine. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Northwest University in Seattle, Washington, and then moved to Los Angeles, California, where he worked at a prominent entertainment law firm and began a career in strategic communications. In addition to freelance writing, Andrew enjoys cooking, faith, and all things psychology.

When she isn’t freelancing, Sawyer is the Manager of Market Engagement for a statewide staffing firm, runs a growing Facebook group: Lewiston Rocks, serves on multiple committees focusing on education in Lewiston and enjoys spending time with her husband and teenage son.

Lauryn Hottinger Lauryn Hottinger of Lauryn Sophia Photography is a professional photographer in Southern Maine. Available for weddings, families and editorial.


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contents WINTER VOL. 3



No. 1


quick reads


Grains of Maine

18 Going Gluten-free:

Local gluten-free eateries

Get Fit:



Multiple Options for the New Year


Printed in Maine

Making It in LA:

Manufacturers still going strong

The Healthy Wei

33 Making the Most of Your Next Event: LA event planners share their secrets

New Hot Spot: LAVA



on the cover

Marketing Maine

41 Tuned In

51 Tattoos on this Town:

Tattoo studios in Lewiston Auburn 8



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Dan Marois, senior writer Peggy Faye Brown T.S. Chamberland Peggy DeBlois Toby Haber-Giasson Michael Krapovicky Karen Landry David Muise Donna Rousseau Andrew Watson


Gini Haines Photography Lauryn Hottinger Heidi Sawyer


Photographer: Lauryn Hottinger Model: Renee Coolbrith LA Metro Magazine is published four times each year by LA Metro Magazine, LLC Editorial and subscription info: Call 207-783-7039 email: info@LAMetroMagazine.com 9 Grove Street, Auburn, ME 04210 Opinions expressed in articles or advertisements, unless otherwise noted, do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the publisher or staff. Every effort has been made to ensure that all information presented in this issue is accurate, and neither LA Metro Magazine nor any of its staff are responsible for omissions or information that has been misrepresented to the magazine. No establishment is ever covered in this magazine because it has advertised, and no payment ever influences our stories and reviews.


Copyright Š2018 LA Metro Magazine, LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission, in writing, from the publisher. Printed in Lewiston, ME, USA.





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get Fit by T.S. Chamberland

Multiple options for the new year


he start of the new year carries a host of possibilities. Time to set new traditions, tackle challenges, break bad habits or establish healthy ones. If you are determined to make a change, the initial excitement can feel like motivation. While these ambitious changes may be well- intentioned, a practical plan and follow-through are often missing at the onset. The good news: no one has to go this road alone.

The Lewiston Auburn region boasts a number of fitness and wellness options, from beginner to expert, yoga to weight lifting, mobility maximizing to community-building fit families. Whether you want a close-knit atmosphere with specific focus, need to increase your range of motion or work through an old injury, or you need the kind of variety that keeps you engaged, you’ll find it all right here.

PRIME360 Range of Motion If you have ever had an injury, pulled a muscle or experienced difficulty or discomfort with any particular motion, you understand that progress on any goal can be difficult. Maybe you’ve tried taking it easy in the hopes your body would heal itself and you’d be able to pick up where you left off. You might be an experienced athlete who has a recurring issue or simply wants to push through a plateau to reach a new level. Whatever your story, Prime360 in Auburn is a great place to start.

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For four years, BJ Grondin has been helping people achieve proper form and enhance movements they may have had difficulties with, approaching the body as a whole. He has made mobility and increasing range of motion his focus, helping young and old alike work past physical hurdles. A switch of academic focus in college led Grondin away from pursuing a civil engineering degree to athletic training, finally settling in a field that dealt with the prevention of injury: Exercise Science.

“Everyone needs movement. Stagnation is the root of all disease.” Movement Therapy The training programs Prime360 offers are designed to prevent injuries from happening. Movement therapy, as Grondin calls it, is an aspect of rehabilitation, but much more specific. Through these classes, members learn how to incorporate a variety of movements into their lives. “We need to teach our bodies to move all different ways,” Grondin says. “If I move one certain way all the time, I’m really good at moving that one way, but then the one time that something happens and I don’t move that way, there’s a good chance of injury.” When coaching a client one-on-one, Grondin gathers and analyzes information on all the chain-reaction type movements, which gives Prime360’s staff of trainers the specifics they need to design a therapeutic style routine. With groups, the analysis occurs during classes where the moves focus on all three planes of movement: the sagittal plane (front to back), frontal plane (side to side) and transverse plane (rotational). “It’s all about movement,” Grondin explains. “How can we enhance movement and get anyone better at whatever they want to get better at?” By watching the way members go through the motions of certain moves, Grondin and his staff of trainers are able to tell what type of muscu14


lar-skeletal issues each person may be dealing with. Knowing this allows the staff at Prime360 to help correct the movements, to alleviate and avoid pain in the future. “We understand how the body is supposed to move through all three planes,” Grondin says. “We’re not going to move someone’s knee in all directions like crazy; we’re going to do it in a controlled manner and teach you how to use your body to the best of its ability.”

Mobility for a Quality Life Prime360 is not about fitness; at least, that isn’t the main objective. Though the end result for many members may be to prolong, increase, or extend their athletic abilities, Grondin says that his goal is to educate people on movement and health. Addressing movements and physical dynamics helps members maximize all they do, from competitive sports to simply running around, playing with their grandkids, and that is the main goal for Grondin and his staff. “There are three major principles in life: movement, energy and adaptation. All three are present everywhere and at all times for healthy living.” For people who can’t get to Auburn for individual or group sessions, Prime360 is now offering online consultations. Trained staff make videos using proper form and technique so members can see how

by T.S. Chamberland | Defining Fit

they should be executing specific moves. Combined with phone support, Grondin says this is an effective way to reach people who aren’t in the area or just can’t make it to their location. “Everyone needs movement,” he explains. “Stagnation is the root of all disease.”

GO ZONE FITNESS Get Your Workout On Boutique-style fitness classes are gaining popularity with people from all walks of life. Go Zone Fitness, in Lewiston and Augusta, offers members challenging routines no matter what their fitness level. The possibility of fulfilling that New Year’s resolution to get in shape, lose weight and feel better, just got a whole lot more exciting. Go Zone isn’t the typical gym with a punch card system. Here, members sign up for guided classes that are scheduled throughout the week. There is no open gym time at either location, as owner Debra Ann Sellinger explains.

body’s oxygen consumption. Selliger says it removes any speculation as to a person’s “true fitness level.” There are no stereotypical member types, as they range from seasoned athletes to those who have never been to a gym. Whether a member’s goal is to lose weight, get in shape, be more active or shave time off their total race time, Go Zone’s boutique-style fitness centers appeal to many who just don’t see themselves in a typical gym setting. “With the turn of the new year, there are many right choices for people,” says Sellinger. “I’m not saying we’re the only solution, but we are beating the odds for conversion, and our retention numbers are about 300% of what a traditional gym would be, because people see a change.”

Customized in Community This approach to fitness is why any class, on any given day at Go Zone could have people in it ranging in age from 20 something to 75. Sellinger says there is no competition between members, rather the atmosphere is one of encouragement and community. One consistent classification for this style of fitness is that class sizes are 26 people or under. Trainers oversee the workout session classes to make sure that each member is working to get their optimum results, regardless of whether the member is modifying or moving at top level for their fitness range.

“It’s safe, it’s responsible, it’s uniquely customized to you.”

Testing one, two, three “When people become members here, they first go through diagnostic tests,” says Sellinger. There are two types of diagnostic tests. One test gauges metabolic function, which is hospital- based. The other diagnostic, a VO2 test, measures your

“It’s safe, it’s responsible, it’s uniquely customized to you,” Sellinger said.

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by T.S. Chamberland | Defining Fit

People enjoy the camaraderie and that seems to be a motivator for them to keep coming, week after week, according to Sellinger. That friendly, community atmosphere also lends itself to a kind of accountability. And Go Zone even offers a custom-branded app for use on-the-go, whether a member is traveling or just can’t make it in for a class that day. The gym area itself has an array of equipment, from free weights to ElliptiMill machines, and Tom Brady signature flooring, all designed to give the novice and the expert the kind of workout they are looking for. Plans are based on the number of touchpoints a member frequents in the gym. Trainers and members can access the complete workout cycle on a dashboard, which lets them know the average caloric expenditure. There’s also a kind of transparency between the members and the trainers, so that when someone comes in with a previous injury or limited movement, the assistance and direction they receive is given with that information in mind. “The modern way, the way I see it, is to make it easy, make it attractive, keep it fresh.” Sellinger added, “So, for us, nothing feels the same. There is nothing predictable about a Go Zone workout. If you came every day, they are different every day.”

AUBURN-LEWISTON YMCA All about community For those looking for a more traditional gym experience, the Auburn-Lewiston YMCA fits the bill, and so much more. With two locations in the Twin City area, fitness seekers can choose between the larger Turner Street location, with more varied in options, or the Central Maine Medical Center location at 12 High

Street, where one of the main themes is the Healthy Heart program. Nicole Oberlander, Director of Fitness and Personal Training, says the YMCA is traditional in much of what they offer, but the sense of community and encouragement keep members coming back. “We are community-based,” says Oberlander. “We’re like a family.” She describes the gym as a community that offers support and encouragement, where men and women of all ages feel free to work out without judgment or ridicule. Quite the opposite, older women who have taken to strength training find they are getting helpful tips and encouragement from the younger generations working out beside them. “We have a lot to offer anyone: young, in-between and old,” said Oberlander. The Y, as it is widely known as, offers child care services for its members, making working out possible for those who have younger children. Having the opportunity to get a workout in because your children can come with you, means you’re more likely to stay committed and reach whatever fitness goals you’ve set.

Cross-train options Oberlander and her staff advocate for cross training, regardless of age. Each location offers an array of classes from yoga and Pilates to weight training and Zumba. The Auburn location offers 35 fitness classes a week, in addition to the traditional gym equipment, and the pool, where members can participate in water walking, lap swim, water aerobics and aqua Zumba. Pickleball, which she describes as a cross between racquetball and tennis, is one of the ways members start exploring what the Y has available.

“We are community-based; we’re like family.”

“It’s something that everyone can do,” Oberlander said. Along with the variety of classes and fitness options the Y offers its members, the introduction into other forms of exercise for those who get caught up in one 16


form is a great way to up the challenge. Any of the classes can be taken by anyone, at any skill level, providing exercise is something they are healthy enough to do.

Ease into it and achieve your goals The approach Oberlander uses with members who are new to exercise, or people who haven’t worked out in a while, is to look at how active they currently are, and build upon it slowly. She says there is far more chance of someone making it beyond the typical threemonth burn-out if they gradually work up to a harder, more frequent schedule, than if they jump right in with five days a week. “A lot of people go from doing nothing to being on screech,” said Oberlander. “Then they start fizzling out. You’ve got walk before you run.” The staff at the Y utilize what members say and how they interact as a basis for offering or introducing other activities they think will be well received. It takes the uncertainty out of what to choose and reinforces the community feel of this gym.

Get real “Come in and talk to us,” Oberlander says. “It’s very important that you make a realistic goal, something that you can consistently do, and that you make appointments with yourself.” When people choose to make realistic goals, do what they can on the days they are scheduled to work out, even if it isn’t what they may have originally planned, she says they are more likely to succeed. “Be realistic, be consistent, set doable goals, make appointments and you can achieve success,” Oberlander says. “You don’t cancel an appointment with the boss and, you’re the boss.” Prime360 875 Court Street, Auburn prime360training.com Go Zone Fitness 1967 Lisbon Road, Suite 4, Lewiston or 46 Bangor Street, Augusta gozonefit.com The YMCA of Auburn-Lewiston 62 Turner Street, Auburn or The Y at CMMC 12 High Street, Lewiston ymca.net

LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @ LAMetroMagazine.com



OF MAINE by Peggy Faye Brown | Photography by Heidi Sawyer

What is your beer made with? Water, yes. Hops, probably. Malt, definitely. Water is the main ingredient by volume in beer. Did you know that the second main ingredient by volume is malt? Where is the malt in your Maine craft beer produced? A few years ago, the answer would have been “somewhere else.” Now, thanks to a Mainer with a lot of perseverance, your local brew’s second most important ingredient comes right from our own region. ©DanMarquisPhotography.com



Your beer’s second most important ingredient Art of floor malting revived Malting is the process of converting raw grains into malt. The process begins by steeping raw grain in water. As the grain begins to germinate, the grain’s chemistry changes and frees up starches that become fermentable sugars. How is this done? In very large processing centers in other parts of the country and around the world, the technique is mechanized. In Lisbon Falls, Maine, the process is done the old-fashioned way, by “floor malting.” Using 10,000 pounds of raw grain per production run, the Blue Ox crew prepares for the germination process. They blend art and science to properly tend the time and temperature needed to produce

the desired product. One of the challenges is to reach the color and flavor requested by the brewers. After two days of soaking in enormous steep tanks, each of which hold 5,000 pounds of barley, wheat or rye, the grains are spread (“cast”) out for floor malting onto a 2,000 sq. ft. concrete floor. Rakes and shovels are used to manually rotate, or turn, the grain every 5 to 6 hours. Turning regulates the temperature and prevents the rootlets from matting together. After several days of being turned, the grains are put into an enormous custom designed kiln, which acts as a dehydrator. After this, the rootlets are removed and the malt is cleaned. The malt is then bagged and shipped to brewers.

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Malt matters

Germinating a great idea

Joel Alex has created another spoke in the wheel of collaboration connecting Maine agriculture to craft brewing. Malt is actually produced right at the Blue Ox Malthouse in Lisbon Falls. According to Alex, “Malt is the silent workhorse of beer. It provides the enzymes, starches, and nutrients that ultimately feed the yeast, provide the color and clarity (or haze) that gives us our first impression, and provides the foundation on which flavors can be built, expressed and highlighted.”

While contemplating grad school to study rural economic development, a chance conversation with a craft brewer in 2012 caused Joel Alex to wonder if malt could be created in Maine. With a background in the fields of environmental science, education, and land conservation, this Colby College graduate began his research and figured out how to make it happen, even seeking information from the 1908 book, Practical Floor Malting, by Hugh Lancaster.

Maltster and founder Alex would like to thank local brewers for using his malt. Their patronage provides income for his employees and the farmers who produce the barley, rye and wheat which is processed at Blue Ox Malthouse. Blue Ox sources most of the grain from Aroostook County farmers, supplementing when needed with regional grains from farmers in Vermont and Quebec. Blue Ox Malthouse creates five core styles of malt: pale base, hard red wheat, Vye-enna, Munich, and Organic pale base. One of the missions of the company, according to Alex, is to “combine traditional methods and modern technologies to create unique malts that highlight Maine growers and what we can do right here in our state.”


Joel Alex holds a picture of Maine’s own urban legend, Paul Bunyon and Babe the Blue Ox. LA METRO MAGAZINE | WINTER 2018 Photograph by Peggy Faye Brown

A few experimental batches were created using commercial kitchens while Alex searched from Biddeford to Caribou for a facility. Malting equipment was only made for large-scale operations, so Alex custom-designed what he needed. Davis Brothers of Chester, Maine, built the two large steep tanks and Nyle Systems, of Brewer, made the kiln. Prior to 2015, Maine grains were exported to Canada to be malted, and then distributed out of New York. Now the process happens right here at Blue Ox Malthouse, the only dedicated malthouse in Maine, and the largest floor malting facility in North America. Alex serves on the Board of Directors of The North American Craft Malt-

by Peggy Faye Brown | Grains of Maine

sters Guild, a member organization of craft malthouses seeking to revive the industry.

Raise a glass to the future While the grain on the malting floor sprouts roots, Blue Ox Malthouse is also sprouting great things for our greater LA community as a source of jobs and high-quality local product for craft brewers. Blue Ox malt also supplies local bakers who use it to create flour. Although the days of using oxen to harvest are gone, their logo gives credit to agricultural history and the company’s roots in Maine. One cannot miss the Paul Bunyan statue in Bangor, and most people recall his blue ox named Babe. Blue Ox Malthouse has proven that agricultural endeavors can be accomplished locally through encouragement and education. Just as great beers are the right blend of flavors, Blue Ox Malthouse is a great blend of the past (art of malting), present (technol-

ogy) and future (educating others). The production in Lisbon Falls lends itself nicely to the University of Maine’s research projects on grains. UMaine has conducted variety trials, and analyzed data comparing LA’s malts to those from other sites, to identify which grains are best suited to different regions. More information can be viewed at: https://extension.umaine.edu/grains-oilseeds/ Joel Alex would like local brewers to be recognized for using local malt, since this impacts the farmers and workers in local communities in a positive way. Visit the website www.blueoxmalthouse.com to see the list of brewers and the next time you enjoy one of these local brews, raise a glass in thanks to the brewery for using local malt from Lisbon Falls. Blue Ox Malthouse 41 Capital Avenue, Lisbon Falls BlueOxMalthouse.com

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FREE by Toby Haber-Giasson

GLUTEN - a substance present in cereal grains, especially wheat, that is responsible for the elastic texture of dough. A mixture of two proteins, it causes illness in people with celiac disease. 22


photograph by Chelsea Briggs

Local gluten-free eateries TRIPP’S FARMHOUSE CAFE

Mark firmly refutes the notion. “GF is not a fad. We have sick people who come in here, it’s no fad to them. They’re so appreciative to have a place to enjoy a meal with their families.” Tripp’s has transcended their original GF mission to become “greater than gluten-free.” By responding to customer needs, they now accommodate many food allergies and provide high quality, great tasting foods for all. Even patrons without food allergies enjoy the food because their tastebuds aren’t telling them they are missing something. Tripp thinks of his process more like building nutritional food than “taking the gluten out.” His wholesome ingredients include good organic fats like butter, coconut and olive oils. Mark uses natural sweeteners like Maine maple syrup, local raw honey, organic coconut sugar or organic cane sugar.


Tr nn Mark and Je

een to Tripp’s Farmhouse Café yet? This locally-owned café and bakery focuses on gluten-free (GF) foods, and features grain-free items as well. Mark and Jenn Tripp’s commitment to GF food that tastes good has won them a grateful- and growingcustomer base. ip p “The demand is way better than we thought,” says Tripp of their success.

Greater than gluten-free

GF that tastes good Rather than feeling deprived by what you can’t eat, those who need or choose GF are delighted by what you can eat at Tripp’s. Mark, the house baker, has perfected palate-pleasing GF recipes for bread, cookies, whoopie pies, cupcakes, bagels, buns, muffins, donuts and scones. Try his specialty items like sweet potato donuts, cannoli, and spud nuts. But the popular bakery is only 50% of Tripp’s business. They also feature a wide variety of food like soups, chili, sandwiches, salads, frozen meats, local raw honey, Maine maple syrup, and meals to go. “People walk in here and cry because they’re so relieved to have a place where it’s safe for them to eat,” says Jenn Tripp. They also appreciate the taste. “There are some terrible GF products out there, so this place is like heaven for them.”

Not a GFad Is Tripp’s just in the right place at the right time, till the next diet craze? LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @ LAMetroMagazine.com


LA market ripe Tripp’s presence in the LA market over the past two years has filled an unseen yet inestimable demand for GF food. Customers become devotees, even as new ones walk in every day. In fact, a brand new one walked in during this interview! “The LA demographic is just what we needed: people who understand health and well-being,” says Tripp. “We had big hopes, but we didn’t expect it to be as big as it is,” Tripp marvels. Sales have literally more than doubled since they started. “Now we need a bigger space.” Tripp’s is eyeing a bigger store with more tables and space to bake, so they can sell more goods to retail stores.

Since Tripp’s serves so many people with medical conditions, they became “‘dedicated gluten-free’-no gluten whatsoever: zero.” This coveted designation will allow GF labeling on retail products. “We got third-party certification for our Krunch products,” Mark says, “We’re waiting for final shelf testing so we can get our GF products into places like Whole Foods.”

Grain-free start When did the search for healthy alternatives start for Mark Tripp? “I was a fat kid,” he says. As a large adult, he experimented with a grain-free diet in 2009 and lost 85 pounds. Although he didn’t have any formal allergies, he noticed differences in his health when he

“The LA demographic is just what we needed: people who understand health and well-being.” Taking care of business

ate commercially produced food. “When your body isn’t fighting off what you’re putting in, your immune system is ready to go.”

The owners of Rinck Advertising, who happen to be regular customers, helped recast Tripp’s Primal as a Farmhouse Café, saluting the owner’s roots selling Primal Krunch at farmers markets around the region.

“But after three years of eating eggs and salad, I wanted a muffin or cereal.” Mark came up with Primal Krunch, a grain-free granola (no oats): just nuts, honey, and coconut.

Tripp’s doesn’t advertise, but they hammer social media 2-3 times a day. “If we don’t put our daily menu on Facebook, I get phone calls,” says Mark.

When Mark met Jenn in 2012, she had unexplained chronic backaches her doctor diagnosed as fibromyalgia. Mark asked her to go grain-free for one month. Her backaches went away and Jenn gave up wheat, for good. They sold Primal Krunch and home-raised meat at regional farmers markets, including in Lewiston. Over two years, they got the kind of feedback which led them to open a store. Visit Mark and Jenn at their flagship location on outer Center Street in Auburn. Try anything and see what they mean by “greater than gluten-free.” Tripp’s Farmhouse Cafe 1056 Center Street, Auburn Tripps.org



by Toby Haber-Giasson | Going Gluten-free

THE OLIVE BRANCH CAFE/THE ARK Mission: healthy eating So you’re considering making some lifestyle changes, maybe cutting out meat, dairy, or gluten. And you’re wondering what you can eat. The Olive Branch Café is proof there is life after meat and wheat. The menu offers many creative and delicious items that are 100% vegetarian, vegan and many gluten-free (GF). For the Olive Branch Café (OBC) and its sister endeavor, The Ark, treating the body like a temple is, well, a mission.

Terms defined OBC is “dedicated” vegan; no animal products are used- not even eggs or honey, and of course dairyfree. Their foods are primarily made with vegetables, plus many ingenious substitutes made from rice, nuts and seeds, and organic corn. OBC is partially gluten-free (GF). About 50% of the menu is GFcan be, if you ask. They sell Olive or GF bread, wraps and buns, but Branch they do use vital wheat gluten powder as a binder, in some recipes. While OBC is not “dedTHE icated GF” like Tripp’s, they do Lifestyle Education use separate equipment, and try their best to avoid cross-contamination.




“Nothing here is GMO- no genetically modified food,” says Kim St. Pierre, part of the café team. “Some people can’t digest it. And we don’t use any dyes.”

The food OBC’s homemade soups are an easy entry point for the vege-curious. Soup selections are all dairy-free, and customers are guaranteed at least one GF soup daily. Try Tomato Bisque and Chicken Alfredo, developed by team member Gina, which start with a cashew base. The delicate Ginger Squash is naturally sweetened with apple.

OBC’s standard sandwich order is the Club, made with “fake” bacon. Another winner is “Chickless salad,” a clone actually made with chick peas. This item has gluten, but can be made GF, upon request.

Anatomy of a BBQ Bac’n burger –

The homemade “cheez” in their quesadillas madeFoods with sunflower Bunis- Whole whole wheatseeds, (ask for aso GFthos bun)with nut allergies can Vegan - soy flour, sunflower enjoy mayo it, too.

oil, lemon juice Burger - Taste of Eden GF Eating healthy doesn’t patty made from oats & pecansto feel like privation. have BBQ sauce - made fresh How about a slice of with organic ketchup, brown sugar, homemade vegan cheeseBragg’s liquid aminos, spices cake with tofu, dairy-free Fake bacon - LightLife soy cream andcan sour product cheese (not GF, but be omitted) cream, in a GF graham cracker VeggiesTry - grilled onion,Joy lettuce, crust? Almond bites, like tomato a no-bake energy ball with oats Cheese - Daiya cheddar slice, made withand pea carob chips. protein (vegan)

Body = temple

You have to be committed to develop this alternative food niche and make it work. Indeed, the Olive Branch Café is run by a uniquely committed faith group, whose liturgy teaches them to treat their bodies well by eating only wholesome foods. Kim puts this Seventh Day Adventist religious tenet in nutritional perspective. “Biblically speaking, the Garden of Eden offered a plant-based diet. That’s why Adventists are vegetarian.” This ancient reference answers our modern desire to get back to the earth, and eat whole food, without hormones, antibiotics and additives used used in commercial food production. The Olive Branch Café opened four years ago to serve the Adventist congregation food and spiritual sustenance. The Ark, a sister effort, hosts ministry outreach for anyone in the LA community who wants to learn more about health. The Ark offers programming that promotes nutritional awareness through education about natural prevention and treatment of ailments, such as remedies for reversing diabetes or treating depression. Member doctors, therapists and nutritionists in the church present many of the outreach programs. But LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @ LAMetroMagazine.com


the fact that 90% of café customers and program attendees aren’t Adventists belies how many people in our LA community are looking for natural ways to heal their bodies, and spirits.

Customer profile Certainly, OBC serves an interesting mix of people.

If you follow social media, find updates on Facebook and Instagram with names of the daily soups. Visit their attractive new website www.lewistonark. com, featuring photos and descriptions for everything on the menu. Also, see the schedule of talks, movie screenings & nutritional education classes at The Ark.

Some are Adventists, although you don’t have to be vegetarian or vegan to be considered faithful. While the majority of customers simply comes in for tasty healthy soups, there are also those people who suffer from conditions like chronic inflammation, those on restricted diets, others with food allergies, or intolerance to lactose or gluten. Diabetics like the low sugar content, thanks to the use of organic apple, fig, maple syrup and organic cane sugar as sweeteners. And many are just seeking a healthier lifestyle for a million good reasons.

Holding out the olive branch An enthusiastic 4-person team runs OBC’s lunch service six days/week, from 11am-3pm (Friday’s close is at 2pm). They close on Saturdays to hold their Adventist church service- right in the restaurant. Two Tuesdays each month and every Wednesday night are outreach programs. 26


Olive Branch Café/The Ark 791 Lisbon Street, Lewiston LewistonArk.com

by Toby Haber-Giasson | Going Gluten-free


Dr. Olivia Ducasse, ND

Health Promotion Coordinator / SNAP-Ed Nutrition Educator

Founder, Living From Within, a holistic-based wellness & rehabilitation center

Clinical Dietitian, Sodexo – Central Maine Medical Center

Q: Who should go “gluten-free”? A: People with celiac disease, who have an immune response to gluten. Celiac may look more common because it can now be properly diagnosed. Q: What if you experience sensitivity? A: Lactose intolerance, IBS, or other sensitivities can cause intestinal issues. It’s important to discuss you individual symptoms with your doctor. Q: What should you do if you think you have gluten intolerance? A: Keep a food journal and note your symptoms after eating. Be sure to talk to your doctor to determine if further examination is recommended. Q: Is GF a choice to make for yourself? A: I recommend having a conversation with a doctor, to identify what ‘s causing your discomfort. Q: Are there negatives to cutting foods from your diet? A: You may be missing out on zinc, iron, and B vitamins. You can work with a dietitian, to ensure that you eat a balanced diet. Q: What sources of information can you trust? A: As a dietitian, I look at evidence-based studies. That’s the hard part of using info from the internet. Recent bona fide research showing gluten may not be the problem; other ingredients may actually cause the sensitivity. See www.celiac.org or www.ibsfree.net

Board certified Doctor of Natural Medicine

Q: Who should go gluten-free? A: Everyone should try it, to see it if it’s a good fit. Even if you don’t have celiac disease, it can enhance your health. Q: What are the benefits? A: When you digest gluten, it expands. So gluten and, to some extent, meat and dairy create excessive levels of inflammation. Q: What’s the problem with inflammation? A: Studies show a connection between inflammation and disease. Q: What should you do if you think you have gluten intolerance? A: When someone presents with an autoimmune issue or chronic condition, we remove gluten, dairy and meat from their diet, to reduce inflammation. Q: Is GF a choice to make for yourself? A: It’s really a lifestyle choice, no different than choosing to exercise. Q: Can nutritional deficiencies result from cutting foods from your diet? A: You can find those in other sources, if you educate yourself about food Q: What about GMOs? A: GMOs are unnatural. The body has to go out of its way to recognize a food source not it’s naturally acclimated to. Q: What about other possible irritants? A: The reality is 100 years ago we just didn’t have allergy level we have now. We have to look at what has changed in the foods we eat. See www.livingfromwithin.net

This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions about your medical condition. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking advice or treatment because of something you have read here. LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @ LAMetroMagazine.com





by Andrew Watson

After 50 years, still dedicated to quality


n 1968, Ray Pinette and Bob Morton put their hearts and minds together to embark on a new kind of adventure. They started a business, and named it Penmor Lithographers. “Pen” is for Pinette and “Mor” is for Morton – the respective cofounders’ last names. Little did they know that, over the course of the next 50 years, their business would grow to be New England’s premier provider of digital and offset printing services, winning the loyalty of hundreds of Maine businesses, as well as national clients like the New York Yankees. Their key to success lies in both staying ahead of the curve in technology and honoring a fierce commitment to quality. This has enabled them to make a lasting footprint in the Lewiston Auburn community. But it didn’t come easy; as with all good ventures, there’s a story behind the success. This duo originally started a magazine called Bargain Ads, a small, paperback print magazine distributed locally that displayed ads for people selling various belongings. While Bargain Ads was proving to be successful, they hungered to expand their business. So in 1972, they asked Joe Fillion to join the company. Joe worked at another company called Twin City Printery located in Lewiston, and he had two major accounts he was prepared to bring with him: Bates Fabric and Bates College. With these clients, Penmor found its footing.

State-of-the-art technology matters In 1972, that footing rested on a single printing press. At the time, it was considered state-of-the-art, and it enabled Penmor to produce an array of printed materials for its clientele. As Penmor accepted new clients and the world in which it operated continued to evolve, so too did technology, and the company was forced to adapt quickly in order to survive. More than adapting, though, they needed to truly get ahead of the curve in order to be competitive: the latest and greatest equipment matters in high-end, commercial printing. With that strategic imperative in mind, they invested heavily in technology, which carried them from a single press in 1972 to their robust modern day operation. Today, they represent commercial printing at its finest, developing thousands of magazines, brochures, direct mail pieces, coffee table books, catalogues, stationery, banners, and any other commercial printing projects one could imagine. Their technological gems make this possible, the latest of which include a brand new, cutting-edge Fuji XMF workflow system and an 8-color Komori G840P printing press. These machines definitively upped the ante in quality. More than that, they doubled Penmor’s efficiency. They can now produce twice as many printed materials in higher quality in the same LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @ LAMetroMagazine.com


“Customers love to work with us, and we take a lot of pride in that. It’s a relationship. We go the extra mile to make sure we’re producing a quality book for them. That makes them happy and also makes them look good.”

Every issue of LA Metro Magazine has been printed at Penmor Lithographers



by Andrew Watson | Penmor Lithographers

amount of time. That means customers are getting a top-tier product quickly. Behind closed doors, this equipment demands an enormous amount of space and entails a massive operation, performing several stages of production working in real time. It’s quite impressive.

Local and national client base

The Media Guides are widely distributed, too. They end up in the hands of commentators, who use the content for real-time factual information while broadcasting live. Penmor has shipped media guides to training facilities and bookstores, to Yankee Stadium itself, to investors, and to those who hold season tickets and luxury suites. Penmor has been servicing this account for 12 years.

Penmor’s obsession with quality, achieved through its intensive operation and reliant on the latest technology, differentiates them from their competitors and enables them to cultivate a loyal client base. Most of those clients are in higher education, encompassing major colleges and universities, including Bates College, Colby College, Bowdoin College, and The University of Maine Systems. Penmor prints alumni magazines, books, mailers, fundraising campaigns, and other projects for their education-based clients. They additionally provide printing services to a multitude of corporate clients, museums, brokers, and other Maine businesses representing a variety of industries.

Penmor has earned bragging rights for meeting printing needs for a premier client- the New York Yankees. This came to fruition when a broker in the New York/ New Jersey area became impressed with Penmor’s quality and service, and that broker connected them to the Yankees. Penmor now prints the New York Yankees’ Official Media Guide, an annual catalogue that gives player statistics throughout the year. It includes photos of players, biographical information, and data like homeruns, RBIs, and other pertinent statistics. The Media Guide is 464 pages long and Penmor prints 15,000 copies.

Family-run service means personal care Winning such impressive clients is possible because the service Penmor provides is personal and familyrun. The company’s president and owner, Paul Fillion, Joe’s son, is joined by other family members in managing all aspects of the business. What started as 10 employees in 1972 has grown to 52 today. Penmor’s current employees average 15-20 years with the company, and many of them have been faithfully serving for over 30 years. Each employee takes a role in making a quality product. Projects are reviewed and proofed at multiple stages of production, and if the slightest discrepancy is present, it’s redone until it meets a standard of perfection. Quality is a calculated focus in Penmor’s workplace culture, and that commitment to quality enabled them to surpass industry standards in service – which contributes to keeping a loyal client base. The reputation they’ve garnered for their service is a result of sincere, proactive communication. Clients know at all times which stage of production their project is in. Penmor has ongoing meetings throughout the day to discuss the status of projects and timelines. Project management is serious business to them; issues are readily resolved, and the status is constantly communicated to clients. This reduces clients’ anxiety and breeds loyalty. LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @ LAMetroMagazine.com


The Fortin Group

The most rewarding part of the operation, Fillion says, is hearing from clients that they’re extremely satisfied with the printing job. “Customers love to work with us, and we take a lot of pride in that. It’s a relationship. We go the extra mile to make sure we’re producing a quality book for them. That makes them happy and also makes them look good.”

Future in Lewiston Auburn A business with such loyal clients is bound to grow, and for Penmor, that growth inevitably means expansion, which they predict within the next 10 years. They’re looking to develop new markets, expand their physical space and equipment, and continue to update their technology. Their growing sales team is actively connecting with businesses all around the New England area.

217 Turner St. Auburn, ME 04210 207-783-8545 70 Horton St. Lewiston, ME 04240 207-784-4584



They’re hiring, too, and Fillion counts himself lucky to pull from the LA workforce. “The high work ethic in this community is simply not replicated in other communities,” Fillion says. “We’re proud to be here.” With prospects like these on the horizon, Penmor will be an economic engine for the LA area for at least another 50 years. Penmor Lithographers 8 Lexington Street, Lewiston penmor.com

Eating the HEALTHY WEI

by Toby Haber-Giasson

Wei Li, a high-quality restaurant at the outer edge of Auburn, has been wowing customers since 2002. It’s been a successful business, recognized locally and even nationally. Not content to rest on past achievements, owner Cam Luu has revamped everything- the menu, the layout, the dÊcor. Can great be greater?

photograph by Heidi Sawyer

LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @ LAMetroMagazine.com


Innovation makes a great restaurant greater The Wei we were


am Luu knew a lot about Chinese restaurants; he’d worked for a few down the East Coast and in the Midwest. But when he opened Wei Li, he wanted to bust out of the old paradigm.

Instead, Luu based Wei Li’s food concept on three simple features: consistent, fast, and fresh. Every dish is measured for temperature and cooking time. Customers don’t have to wait long for their meal, and food is properly cooked each time. Dishes made fresh ensure the best taste.

Instead of traditional Chinese prints on the walls, he showed life-sized images of modern China on a giant TV screen. Customers would sit mesmerized as they ate. “It was Lilly’s idea,” recalls Luu, crediting his business partner, Lilly Huang. “She wanted to educate people.”

This formula has proved very popular for the last fifteen years. Wei Li won the Top 100 Chinese Restaurants in USA award in 2006 and 2011. Luu received the Androscoggin County Chamber of Commerce Small Business Leader Award in 2008 and recognition from YPLAA in 2013.

Luu wanted to feed people. “We created our own style- not Szechuan, or Cantonese, or Hunan.” Full disclosure: all Wei Li’s chefs are Caucasian. “The only Asians in the kitchen are my nephew, on the fryolator, and Lilly’s father, doing dishes.”

Even so, modest Luu eschews the notion that he created anything new. “I didn’t invent anything,” he insists, “I just put it together.”

How could you make Wei Li any better? Healthy Wei Wei Li has recently introduced a new menu, in response to demand from today’s health-conscious customers. Luu let his point of sale data show him the most popular dishes (see box). He then crafted the most nutritious versions possible. So, for example, the new General Chicken is lean, made with minimal sugar, and no unsaturated oil.



Top 5 Main Dishes

1- General Chicken

2- Crab Rangoon

3- Chicken Fingers

4- Lo Mein

5- Fried Rice

by Toby Haber-Giasson | Eating the Healthy Wei

Dishes on the “Healthy Menu” contain no MSG, no sugar, and only low sodium. All five offerings here feature Luu’s new healthy sauce, and can be made with bean curd, beef, chicken or shrimp. The most popular “healthy” items, by the way, are string beans and garlic vegetables.

ty. He knows lunch customers have a limited time to spend dining before they get back to work; his timer system, plus solid table service, helps keep everyone on track.

Healthy Menu items

- Chinese vegetables

- Mushroom

The first thing patrons will notice is an expanded waiting area for take-out pick-ups. Two marble countertops with chair-back stools offer a comfortable place to wait for your order

- String Bean

- Garlic vegetables

- Rice noodles

New spaces

The bar area has changed, as well. Luu removed the tiki-style valance and raised the countertop, opening up the space so it doesn’t block sight lines from the dining room. Stop by and say hello to Luu’s sister Angie, behind the bar.

Gluten-free items appear throughout the menu. Luu says other dishes can be made GF too, by request.

Sushi etc. Luu kept the sushi menu the same; he knows exactly what his customers want. “We were the first Chinese restaurant in LA to do sushi,” he boasts, “before Jasmine Cafe, before Sea 40.” Luu knows most of his patrons choose the California, Rainbow or Caterpillar rolls. We dare you to check out the innovative Chinese sushi Luu has created. “Instead of raw fish,” Luu explains, “we put beef or chicken teriyaki in the roll.” In addition, here are some other sleepers on the menu, for the more sophisticated palette. Try the Japanese fried calamari, coated in a light tempura batter. This writer recommends the delectable tuna steak sashimi, seared and sliced, topped with homemade sauce, on a bed of rice noodle.

Out of the box “Dinner boxes are the most popular thing we have,” says Luu. “You choose a main course, two appetizers, and a side dish, all in the box.” Most choose Chicken Lo Mein or General Chicken, by the way, for those of you keeping score. Once again, Luu’s innovation drives customer choice. “We didn’t invent the bento box- it’s originally Japanese. But we put Chinese food into it.” The lunch specials are attractively presented but the real secret here is Luu’s attention to…yes, punctuali-

Sushi zone Yet another innovation is the spectacular space Luu has created for the new sushi bar. A jaw-dropping giant fish tank full of striped African Frontosa meets your eye as you enter. “I wanted a bigger one,” says Luu of the 11ft-long tank, “but it wouldn’t fit through the door.” Dramatic color and lighting highlight a sparkling glass case full of fish and other delicacies used by Lilly’s sister, Yuyun, to create your sushi favorites. New shelved cases will eventually hold Wei Li’s own sauces, bottled for sale singly or in gift baskets. LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @ LAMetroMagazine.com


Get schooled Not even Luu’s Monday afternoon cooking classes will remain the same. As popular as these classes have been, Luu is planning changes. “On one day, in 3 hours,” he laments, “you don’t really learn much.” How about a month-long mini-course comprised of four consecutive Mondays? Students would have custom options for buying a cleaver knife, a sushi-making set and even a chef’s outfit, emblazoned with the Wei Li logo. “The original goal,” Luu recalls, “was to show how clean and efficient the kitchen is.” Does it keep people coming back to the restaurant? Yes it does, Luu says, and it generates great wordof-mouth advertising with all the students’ friends.

Wei Li 2.0 Enlarged photos now adorn the walls, and booths line the long wall where the giant TV once hung. Diners can see how the restaurant used to look, in Wei Li’s early days. Somehow, Wei Li managed to improve upon a winning formula, giving customers what they are asking for, with high quality food and service. Ever seeking excellence, Cam Luu continues to innovate. And odds are, he’s not done yet. Wei Li Restaurant 945 Center Street, Auburn Facebook: Wei Li Auburn











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Serving LA for 62 Years! Qualifications and Restrictions Apply


EXPERIENCE MATTERS Choose a law firm you can trust! Choose a Lewiston Attorney with More Than 29 Years of Legal Experience. _______________________

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Choose Mike Dubois! Call 207-784-9329 Today. _______________________

Attorney Dubois serves clients throughout Maine. LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @ LAMetroMagazine.com


L AVA New Hot Spot:

by Michael Krapovicky

Fondue Restaurant and Show Lounge


ntering Lava Fondue Restaurant and Show Lounge through a sliding bookcase door recalls the speakeasies of the 1920s Prohibition Era. The atmosphere is cozy and elegant, the feel intimate and unique. Marcus Verrill and Joe Richards established the innovative and exciting venue after running successful nightclubs and restaurants in other Maine cities. They settled on 34 Court Street in Auburn over more southern environs. “We had a lot of options,” said Richards,“ and we chose to start fresh here in Auburn.” “This brings us closer to home,” said Verrill.“ I grew up in ‘Little Canada,’ so what better place to bring our business ideas? I also have a great love for this building and the space, since it was No Tomatoes. I always felt if No Tomatoes could last for 30 years, and we brought something different and totally unique, we could last 30 years here. We definitely intend to be here for the foreseeable future.”

Road to success “Joe and I started working together at Styxx Nightclub in Portland, which I owned and operated for six years,” Verrill recounted. Richards added, “I learned the 38


managerial aspects of the restaurant and nightclub business from Marcus.” “We were looking for a geographical area that was fun, and that didn’t have a lot of competition,” recalls Verill. “We opened Fresco, a small 36-seat restaurant in Sanford, and within four months we were so busy the town said we needed a bigger spot.” Richards transitioned in as Fresco’s manager. “After that, we opened Let’s Get Bacon together as co-owners. That’s when we realized the potential of the bacon-themed restaurant.” [See House of Bacon sidebar on page 39] “We moved back to Portland and opened Studio 55, a burlesque club,” Verrill said. “We had a great group of teams performing cabaret theater and just thought adding fondue would be a great addition to the next venue we opened.“ But could Central Maine support a burlesque club? It appears that it can.

Maine cabaret About 25% of Lava’s customers are from LA, and the rest are coming from out of town to see the shows.

Lava’s patrons vary widely in age and background. The owners attribute the diversity of their clientele to the desire for new forms of entertainment. “They make the journey to Auburn because of what we offer,” Verrill asserted. The ensemble performers at Lava are all veterans of burlesque entertainment, with a flair for the kind of drama and production values sold-out LA audiences are enjoying. The cast comes up each week from Portland for two full-day dress rehearsals. Verrill boasts, “They sing, they act, they dance; it’s an art form.” As you’d expect, the owners are as involved with the shows as they are with the food and service aspects. “We work with the director and the troupe on material for a show,” Verrill said. “We have the final say; we make sure the costuming adheres to city ordinances. “Our shows are classy- it’s like attending a full-on theater production.

Hands-on style “Right now this restaurant is our heart,” Verrill said. “We are seeing great growth every week. The younger generation coming in is definitely stepping up and bringing positive growth to the area.” You can see why the overwhelmingly positive online reviews of Lava refer to Marcus and Joe by name, a direct result of the pair’s hands-on business model. “We really care about the customer feedback, always trying to make things better,” Verrill affirmed. “If we made people feel good about their experience, that’s how we define a good day!” The future looks promising for Lava. With sales and attendance steadily increasing, the owners are already planning improvements and expansion. Lava Fondue Restaurant & Show Lounge 34 Court Street, Auburn LavaFondueShowLounge.com

The House of Bacon is a newly-launched Auburn eatery, owned by Marcus Verrill and Joe Richards. The proprietors expanded on an idea from their first endeavour as co-owners of the Ogunquit-based Let’s Get Bacon. The tremendous success of this seasonal restaurant led them to seek a year-round location. They revamped the name and menu, and opened the House of Bacon here in September of 2017. The House of Bacon’s staple attraction is the Free Bacon Happy Hour, offering free bacon from 4-6pm. “

“One Friday, we gave away nearly 90 pounds of bacon,” Verrill extolled. “We consider that our ‘entertainment.’ We posted online about our Happy Hour and received 20,000 views and 500 comments about our post; we felt like this was a good start for us.” They offer over 13 flavors of bacon, such as SmokeHouse Maple, Sweet Cajun, even Pumpkin. “Our bacon is locally-sourced,” Richards said, “and we are working on getting our own pigs from Maine farms. We’re excited to bring other local farms on board, farm eggs as well as bacon.” The House of Bacon has a comedy night every weekend, hosted by Sam Pelletier. “We are trying to be the new comedy spot in LA,” Verrill said. “We’ve been filling up 60 seats Friday and Saturday nights. The comedy show is done by 9:50; and we have a show at Lava beginning then, so there is the opportunity for a whole new atmosphere and experience. It makes for a wonderful night out.” “We’re working on making House of Bacon more uniform, transferable to other locales,” Verrill explained, when asked about the future plans the two have for the restaurant. “We’ll be looking for maybe a few more locations in the future. But we still want to retain direct interaction with the customers.” House of Bacon 34 Court Street, Auburn Facebook: House of Bacon

LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @ LAMetroMagazine.com




Marketing Maine by Donna Keene Rousseau

When work meets play


halo Blue partners Catherine Creighton and Matthew Kovacevich lay out a map of Aroostook County across their dining room table. Thalo Blue’s latest project is a guide map featuring a unique photographic directory of events, cultural, and historical points of interest in “The County.” With travelers in mind, it is thoughtful in both content and ease of use. As they review the piece, their eldest son Luka, currently in middle school, plunks himself down at the table with a bowl of popcorn and a smile. It is a typical day at Thalo Blue, a national marketing and design company, located in the family’s cozy Lake Street home in Auburn, Maine.

It is a far cry from New York City, where Catherine and Matt spent fourteen years building their marketing careers in the 90s. They married in 2000, amidst hectic schedules and large, multi-faceted projects. It wasn’t until 2004, after the birth of Luka, that these seasoned professionals pulled up stakes and moved to Asheville, North Carolina, in search of life after work. They left behind a co-op in Brooklyn, a dog walker, and a nanny. “I wanted to raise our son,” confirms Catherine. “And we were burning out.”

“Anyone can use the internet and write about a place, but we try to get out there and experience Maine.”

LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @ LAMetroMagazine.com


working with various agencies, she and Matt moved ahead with plans for their own agency. Then in 2011, they found themselves uniquely positioned to pitch Kennebec & Moose Valley Tourism and were named agency of record. Thalo Blue, the business of which they had dreamed, took flight.

Living, loving, and selling Maine Their work with Kennebec Valley earned them the attention of the Maine Lakes & Mountains Tourism Council, specifically Dina Jackson, Grant Manager for MLMTC. “I always admired the work Thalo Blue was doing for Kennebec Valley,” says Dina. “Catherine has a fabulous eye for design and a way of creating pieces that are interesting and easy on the eye. Matt’s conversational style of writing – not stuffy- imparts that voice of Maine for us. I like the time they take to really understand the experience and the product. The fact that they live in the region lends credibility and knowledge to their work.”

In search of balance In Asheville, Catherine pursued her freelance work part-time and gave birth to son Liam in 2006. Matt focused on marketing for luxury real estate and traditional tourism. Eventually, they established a relationship with Market Connections, a client they maintain to this day, creating promotional materials including playbills for a local theater. The Market Connections experience demonstrated for them the ability to strike a balance between career and family life. “The owner was a single mom with children,” explains Catherine. “She fostered the idea of balance. We thought, ‘She’s doing it for herself; maybe we can do it for our family.’” The economic crash of 2008 prompted a plan to move Catherine and the children to Maine to live with her parents, while Matt searched for work on the East Coast. While Catherine continued as a freelance creative contractor 42


Mike Wilson, Senior Program Director for Northern Forest Center, learned about Thalo Blue through the Maine Office of Tourism. “We were looking for a firm to help us take a fledgling initiative, the 150th Anniversary of the Thoreau-Wabanaki Tour, to the next level of visibility,” says Wilson. “I was impressed with their familiarity with the region and their creative strategies for moving a message through multiple social media channels. They became our creative partner, allowing us to use the event to quadruple our social media following and connect with other partners to get our message out to over 100,000 followers.”

by Donna Keene Rousseau | Thalo Blue

Keeping it family “Some people have lived here all their lives and haven’t ventured out to see the places we’ve seen,” says Matt. “Our kids weren’t born here but they have seen more places in Maine because we take them with us.” Luka remembers the day they caught frogs while mom had a meeting with Northern Outdoors. He can also tell you where in Maine to find the best whoopie pies and maple syrup. “Anyone can use the internet and write about a place, but we try to get out there and experience Maine,” says Matt. “Sometimes it may look like work, but then it becomes play.”

was so quintessentially Maine, the Maine Innkeepers Association asked for permission to use the image in updating their promotional materials too. Embracing the opportunity to expose their children to the world, Catherine and Matt frequently combine business with pleasure, engaging the boys in brainstorming and welcoming their opinions as part of their marketing research. “Kids are so honest,” says Matt. “There are no politics in what they say.” “They see things with different eyes,” explains Catherine. “They really are an informal focus group.”

Catherine recalls taking the kids along for a day of shooting images for The Kennebec Explorer, a magazine-style guide for Kennebec Valley Tourism. “It had been a long day of hiking, fishing, and kayaking on Great Pond in Rome, Maine. Paddling in, I got an idea; I asked Luka to paddle to shore and get out on the dock for me. Frustrated, he did it. Of all the photos taken, that shot ended up being the winner.” So Luka appeared on the cover of the magazine, standing at the end of a dock, shoulders draped in a towel, looking out over the water. (shown below) The image

Blue streak Today, of the eight tourism regions in the State of Maine, Thalo Blue has worked with six. Regional Maine tourism clients include Maine’s Lakes & Mountains, The Maine Beaches, Maine Woods Consortium, and the Kennebec Valley Tourism Council. Other clients include the Maine Arts Commission and the Maine State Museum. In 2013, at the Maine Governor’s Conference on Tourism, the company was given the Innovation & Creativity Award for their work rebuilding the Kennebec & Moose River Valley brand for Kennebec Valley Tourism. Again, in 2015, at the Governor’s conference, they won the Originality Award for their work on the Thoreau-Wabanaki Promotional Tour. Thalo Blue Auburn, Maine ThaloBlue.com LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @ LAMetroMagazine.com


Tattoos on

Fianna Studio 44


this Town by Karen Landry | Photography by Heidi Sawyer

“Show me a man with a tattoo and I’ll show you a man with an interesting past.” — Jack London

Have you ever thought of getting a tattoo? Or do you want more? Whether the thought of permanent art on your dermis entices or repulses you, the notion is rather interesting. The word tattoo derives from the Tahitian tatu whose translation is “to mark something.” Throughout history, tattoos have signified a myriad of meanings - from which clan you belong to, how much you adore your lover, as a protection from curses, or just because you think a particular design is so darn cool. No matter the reason, the Lewiston Auburn area has many fine choices to fulfill your ink-fueled dreams.

LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @ LAMetroMagazine.com


Tattoo studios in Lewiston Auburn CAPTAIN MORGAN’S TATTOOZ

No copycats

et’s face the facts. If you got a tattoo in Lewiston Auburn within the last thirty odd years, you probably were inked by either Captain Morgan himself, or one of the many tattoo artists who have trained under him. An undisputed master of his craft, Captain Morgan has been creating in this area for the last few decades.

Captain Morgan says, “We can do all styles, from wild to mild.” But one thing they definitely will not do: “We don’t do copycat art.” If somebody comes in with a picture of someone else’s tattoo, they will not copy it, so don’t even ask. However, they will come up with their own concept based on another tattoo. Captain Morgan will research extensively on the internet, using tools like Pinterest, to help make it an original design.


And if Winona ends up not exactly being forever, they also offer excellent cover-up work. “There are a lot of street hacks out there. We clean up after them,” Captain Morgan mentions. Captain Morgan has also participated in tattoo conventions, from Las Vegas to Bangor. He’s racked up so many trophies and plaques that he can’t fit them all in his shop. Sure, he’s won Best in Show. But the award that means the most to him was a surprise.

After tattooing in Old Orchard Beach in the 80s, Captain Morgan moved up to LA in the early 90s. Originally his clientele was largely made up of bikers and military veterans. But the popularity and accessibility of tattoos has grown, and won’t be going out of style any time soon. Captain Morgan has grown and adapted with it. Anyone is welcome at Captain Morgan’s. Temporary tattoos are even offered to any little ones that might stop in to see how mom and dad are doing “under the gun.” There are two other artists that work at Captain Morgan’s Tattooz: Frankie Morgan (Captain Morgan’s son), and Justin Graves. Both young men have been in the business for about a decade. Frankie, known as a family man and the comedian of the bunch, is talented in all areas and does a lot of smaller pieces, as well as body piercing. Justin is a family man as well; he put off his apprenticeship at age 18 to start his family. Justin, who has previously tattooed in Portland and Brunswick, likes to do pieces based in realism, such as animal and human portraits. He prefers black and grey for these types of tattoos. “Color portraits look cartoony to me,” he notes. 46


by Karen Landry | Tattoos on this Town

Presented by Tatouage La Marc in Quebec, Captain Morgan was called up at the Downeast Tattoo Convention in 2006 and given a lifetime achievement award that acknowledged his experience and skills in the arts, and his willingness to teach others. “I did my first tattoo in 1979, before my son was even born,” Captain Morgan notes. Besides a break in 2012 to recover from throat cancer (“It’s why I sound like one of the Sopranos now”), Captain Morgan has been going strong for decades now. He once tattooed for 13 hours straight, back in the 80s. He can still work on a piece for 6 or 7 hours at a time, if needed. And with a heart as big as his acclaim, Captain Morgan offers pro bono ink for the community. He recently held a contest on his Facebook page offering a free tattoo. The winner he chose was a woman who had recently lost her 10-year-old daughter. The result was matching butterfly memorial tattoos for mom and her friends who nominated her. (shown below) Captain Morgan also offers 20% off to EMT’s, first responders, police, firefighters, and the military.


Located inside of an old carriage house built before the train tracks laid down, C+Cbuilt O’Leary Located insidewere of aneven old carriage house before Tattoo Company is anything but old-fashioned. the train tracks were even laid down, C+C O’Leary Opened in 2013 by wife team ChrisTattoo Company is husband anything and but old-fashioned. topher and O’Leary, youand willwife find team a group of Opened inCarrie 2013 by husband Christattoo artists that feel like family, and are talented topher and Carrie O’Leary, you will find a group ofas all heck.artists that feel like family, and are talented tattoo as all heck. A few things that stand out in this tattoo studio are the pups, the women, and explain… A few things that stand outart. in Let this me tattoo studio are

the pups, the women, and art. Let me explain… C+C O’Leary Tattoo Company feels like an art studio. drawings,feels and like paintings C+COriginal O’Learysketches, Tattoo Company an art cover the walls. You can even get a peek at Christopher studio. Original sketches, drawings, and paintings O’Leary’s artYou -- ifcan youeven don’tget know whatatthat is, I cover thepyro walls. a peek Chrissuggest you pop into the shop and find out! topher O’Leary’s pyro art -- if you don’t know what that is, I suggest you pop into the shop and find out!

Find out why their slogan is “The Treasure is in the Ink,” Captain Morgan Tattooz 675 Main Street Suite 12, Lewiston Facebook: Captain Morgan Tattooz

C+C O’Leary Tattoo Company LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @ LAMetroMagazine.com


Company Companyof of55 The Thefive fivetattoo tattooartists artiststhat thatcreate createatatthe thestudio studioare are the aforementioned O’Leary’s, plus Tori Gilliam, the aforementioned O’Leary’s, plus Tori Gilliam,Sara Nichols, and Stephen Leppanen. They all canall really Sara Nichols, and Stephen Leppanen. They can draw, and have participated in the local Fuel the Arts really draw, and have participated in the local Fuel Expo, held annually The Ramada in Lewiston. the Arts Expo, held at annually at TheInn Ramada Inn All their work is custom. Christopher O’Leary, Lepin Lewiston. All their work is custom. Christopher panen and Nichols have all worked with Captain O’Leary, Leppanen and Nichols have all worked Morgan some point. Youatcould play Degrees withatCaptain Morgan somereally point. You“Six could ofreally Captain Morgan” in this town. play “Six Degrees of Captain Morgan” in this town. The   O’Leary’s miniature schnauzers, Lenora and Ivan, are the tattoo studio’sschnauzers, little mascots. It’s no surThelike O’Leary’s miniature Lenora and prise, considering how much the company does forno Ivan, are like the tattoo studio’s little mascots. It’s local animal welfare. They do a good deal of animal surprise, considering how much the company does tribute tattoos, paw prints, donate for local animalusually welfare. They do aand good deal half of anthe money from those tattoos to The Greater Androimal tribute tattoos, usually paw prints, and donate scoggin Society. Proceeds from merhalf the Humane money from those tattoos to Thetheir Greater chandise are also donated to the Proceeds animal shelter. The Androscoggin Humane Society. from their cause is so close to their heart that they even donate merchandise are also donated to the animal shelter. money out of their owntopockets, if sales The cause is so close their heart that are theyslow. even

donate money out of their own pockets, if sales are When slow. it was rare to find a female in this business, Sara Nichols was one of the first. Other women, like Carrie O’Leary and When it was rare to Tori Gilliam, have followed find a female in this in her footsteps. Gilbusiness, Sara Nichliam remembers when ols was one of the she discouraged first.was Other women, from following her like Carrie O’Leary passion. She was and Tori Gilliam, told a tattoo parlor in was have followed herno place for a woman, footsteps. Gilliam and that shewhen was just remembers she a distraction. Not to was discouraged from be dissuaded, Gilliam following her passion. worked two jobs while She was told a tattoo she apprenticed, and parlor was no place stayed up all night for a woman, and that drawing. she was just a distraction. Not to be dissuaded, Gilliam worked two jobs while she apprenticed, and “When want it, you want it. I used to always hear, stayed you up all night drawing. ‘You’re the first tattoo I ever got from a chick.’ Now you reallyyou don’t hear that want anymore,” shetoshares. “When want it, you it. I used always

hear, ‘You’re the first tattoo I ever got from a chick.’ Carrie O’Leary isn’t just my Now you reallysays,” don’tChristopher hear that anymore,” shehusband. He’s my teacher too.” Now mostly retired from shares. actual tattooing, Carrie O’Leary is now concentrating on running the business. It’s obviously Carrie O’Leary says,” Christopher isn’tanother just my talent ofhusband. hers because the studio is busy. They recommend He’s my teacher too.” Now mostly retired booking your appointment in advance. Popular artists from actual tattooing, Carrie O’Leary is now conlike Christopher O’Learythe arebusiness. booked It’s 5-6obviously months out. centrating on running 48


another talent of hers because the studio is busy. They recommend booking your appointment in advance. Popular artists like Christopher O’Leary are booked 5-6 months out.

O’Leary states, “It’s a passion. You don’t want to waste your client’s time. And you don’t go into art to get rich.” C+C O’Leary Tattoo Company 214 Minot Avenue, Auburn Facebook: C+C O’Leary Tattoo Company

FIANNA STUDIO There’s some new blood in town, and they’re hoping to bring new life and revenue to the Auburn area where they’ve landed. James McGrory and his wife, Lindsey, purchased the Engine House in Auburn last year. They’ve been busy revitalizing this old landmark, which used to be a fire station, setting up their tattoo studio, and establishing more small businesses inside the building. In fact, they already held an open house involving a variety of local small businesses this past November. This event, featuring Lewiston Auburn favorites such as Great Falls Delivery Cafe, Bella Fiore Boutique, and The Beauty Bar, was a successful and brilliant way to bring together our hometown collective. Using words like “personal” and “exclusive” to describe their studio, this appointment-only business is dedicated to giving their clients a one-of-a-kind experience tailored just for them. McGrory specializes in black and grey tattooing and leans towards the realism genre, but he doesn’t shy away from color if it suits the design.

by Karen Landry | Tattoos on this Town

West to East James McGrory has been tattooing for 22 years, and opened Fianna Studio in 2010 after moving to Maine from Colorado. After seven years in Portland, Fianna was relocated to Auburn, following the purchase of the historic Engine House. McGrory says,” Maine has such a strong sense of community and the quiet quality of life that fits the idea of Fianna Studio perfectly.” The other tattoo artist at Fianna, Brad Burkhart, hails from San Diego. He brought his 10 years experience to Maine for much of the same reasons as the McGrory’s - a better quality of life and a studio where he could grow his skills. Burkhart is equally as versatile as McGrory, with laser sharp focus and a little more of a hint of traditional application. McGrory notes,”We both feel strongly that a quality tattoo is more important than making a quick buck, so our clients get the best approach for a tattoo that’ll look great for their whole lives, not just the first few years. Our clients appreciate that dedication to their tattoos, and the relationships we have with them, which is why they travel from all over Maine and around the country.” The new business they’re bringing to town undoubtedly boosts our local economy and forges fresh relationships throughout Lewiston Auburn. Fianna 158 Court Street, Auburn fiannastudio.com

TELL YOUR STORY Central Maine is fortunate to have quite a few options for tattoos. Our local tattoo studios offer the highest caliber of talent, topnotch cleanliness, and friendly professionalism. Why not let a tattoo tell your story? The Lewiston Auburn area has other tattoo parlors that are worth checking out. Some of these are:

Altered Images Tattoo 1384 Lisbon Street, Lewiston alteredimagetattoo.com Ink Junkies Tattoo 892 Lisbon Street, Lewiston inkjunkiesmaine.com Skin Deep Tattoo and Piercing 417 Main Street, Lewiston

We would like to thank all the ladies who came out to help us get a great cover shot. One thing is certain, LA has some great helping hands, and even better ink. Thanks again for helping us tie together another great issue! Pictured from left to right, back row: Natalie Michaud, Hannah Dieterich, Sarah Zeihm, Lauryn Hottinger, Jaime Lyn Allie, Renee Coolbrith and in front, Pam Ashby. LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @ LAMetroMagazine.com




TUNED IN by Peggy DeBlois | Photography by Heidi Sawyer

Dedicated to community


aine’s Big Z radio station is, ironically, rather small. Housed in a converted home on Center Street in Auburn, the studio is the first thing you see when you open the door. Continue down the narrow hall to the back office, and one finds the large presence that personifies the station: Dick Gleason.

ty in their own city, we are all going to have a rough time.” He leans forward to emphasize his philosophy. “I watched over 50 years of construction in this area, and the dawn of the big box stores, and I worried that people would lose interest in their local community. As a radio station, we are constantly trying to give listeners what they want, and that’s a connection to their local community.”

There are no pretentions in Gleason’s office, aside from the plaque reminding the visitor that he was In an era when everyone seems to be connected to the Mayor of Auburn from 2009 to 2011. ‘Old-guard a much larger world, Gleason found a way to remind businessman’ is the best description of Dick Gleason – neutral dress shirt tucked into dark slacks, dress people every day of all the things going on right here in Central Maine. shoes. As he rises The Breakfast “I want people to discover all that from his chair to Club, the station’s come around the we have to offer here in Auburn...” most popular desk to greet you show, has interviewed over 1500 local businesses and properly, you instantly know you will learn a lot about organizations. To build on its popularity, the station business from this man. also sends out a morning email alert with truly local news. Gleason Media also manage a local interest Gleason = Radio website, lewistonauburn.com, where one can find Dick Gleason’s name has been synonymous with local links to community and performing arts organizaradio since 1972. He defines his company, Gleason tions. Media, as “dedicating ourselves to local business and taking pride in offering affordable advertising Bonnie McHugh, Station Manager and Breakfast Club solutions to businesses of all sizes,” through its seven Producer for Maine’s Big Z, emphasizes Gleason’s radio stations, and internet and direct mail marketing. persona. “I have worked for Dick Gleason for almost ten years and it has been a wonderful experience for He is quick to point out that radio, at its heart, is me,” says McHugh. “His honesty and integrity show about community. “Community is very important,” he through in everything he does and that is a rarity in begins. “If people lose interest in building communitoday’s world.  Most of all, Dick is passionate about LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @ LAMetroMagazine.com



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by Peggy DeBlois | Dick Gleason

the power of radio. He truly cares about our community and wants to see local businesses succeed.”

Gleason = Community Gleason’s dedication to the local community led him to a tenure in local politics in 2006, when he held a position as councilor for a year, closely followed when he successfully ran for Mayor of Auburn. “Running for office and actually being mayor were fine, I enjoyed both,” he says. “But politics does not mix well with business. When you make mistakes in politics, everyone knows it!” Gleason credits much of his enjoyment in the role of mayor to the fact that Larry Gilbert was mayor of Lewiston in the same time period. “Larry’s the greatest guy,” says Gleason, “a person who gets along with everyone.” Beyond politics, Gleason has been no stranger to community involvement. He cannot choose a favorite organization he has served, so he sums it up with three. “The Chapman House – all the improvements I have seen them make there – it’s very rewarding,” he starts, “and of course the Boys and Girls Clubs, because you want to keep kids involved in a positive way. And I have to add in the Central Maine Community College Foundation which works to provide scholarships for young people who are training to work right here. I like to think I’ve covered all my bases, from youth to young adults to seniors with these organizations.” Perhaps the best way to exemplify Gleason’s dedication to community is reviewing the list of his recognitions: • B  roadcaster of the Year, Maine Association of Broadcasters • Business Leadership Award, Androscoggin County Chamber of Commerce • Business Cornerstone Award, Maine State Senate • Honorary Degree, New England School of Communications • Legion of Honor, Kiwanis International • Ray Geiger Award, Androscoggin County Chamber of Commerce • Achievement in Business Award, University of Maine School of Business • Citizen of the Year of Auburn, Maine (2008) - Auburn Business Association • Business of the Year (2015) - Oxford Hills Chamber of Commerce

Understandably, he has a hard time deciding which of these recognitions is the most meaningful to him. “Well, definitely the Citizen of the Year,” he begins, “because that’s a really nice event where they not only recognize me, but the community. It’s a real showcase of the community, so that was very enjoyable for me.” He also acknowledges that the Ray Geiger Award from the local chamber was a true honor, as well as the recognition from the Oxford Hills Chamber. “Recognition from your business peers is always nice, particularly if it becomes a platform to show others how great your community is.”

Gleason = Future Gleason sees great promise in the future of our community. “I really like the local chamber’s ‘40 Under 40’ program,” he says. “It’s very good to give recognition to this younger group of business people; we like to see it, and it encourages them to continue their efforts. Between my two businesses in Norway and Auburn, about half of my employees are under 40. We’re very proud that our own Matt Boutwell (known on the air as “Matty B.”) has been nominated twice.” Gleason may be synonymous with local radio, but one cannot deny he is a pillar of the community in his infectious belief in Central Maine. “I want people to discover all that we have to offer here in Auburn,” he begins, “and start looking to our central location, right off the turnpike, as the perfect place for regional events. We are so well suited to hosting events, and we are within 40 minutes of either the mountains or the ocean.” He pauses before delivering his final words with a mischievous grin. “Portland is really a great suburb for Lewiston Auburn.” Gleason Media 555 Center Street, Auburn GleasonMedia.com LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @ LAMetroMagazine.com


Making the most


of Your Next

by Dan Marois



LA’s event planners share their secrets Whether planning for a business meeting, annual convention, anniversary celebration or a wedding, event planners with lots of experience in making that event memorable. LA is home to many wonderful locations for your next event. Here is a taste of just a few.

Where to start


ever lose sight of what you are celebrating. It’s easy to get caught up in all the details, but remember at the end of the day you are here to celebrate something special,” reminds Laura Kibort, from the Royal Oak Room, a renovated former train station with history, ambiance, and charm tucked away in a quiet neighborhood in Lewiston. She suggests that people keep their eye on the outcome they are planning. She also suggests that people should keep a budget in mind when starting to plan an event. “It’s important to have a set budget in mind and be open to sharing that with your vendors. While there are certain costs that cannot be adjusted, there are other areas where a little creativity can go a long way,” said Kibort. She cites that being upfront with vendors about your budget can bring far better results. She poses that good vendors will use their expertise to give options that meet the budget people have in mind. “What’s important to remember is that we are here to help you and the more transparent you are, chances are we will be able to meet your needs,” said Kibort. Kristi Dunham is Events Manager at the Hilton Garden Inn Auburn Riverwatch, one of the area’s newer venues including an onsite restaurant, meeting space and overnight room accommodations overlooking the river between Auburn and Lewiston. “Keeping to the agenda that was developed in the beginning stages of the planning process is key to establishing an organized well-planned event,” said Dunham, who recently was honored with Hilton Worldwide’s Spirit of Brighthearted award for her hospitality in event planning. “We will walk them through the planning stages, and help them from start to finish.” Cyndi Robbins, innkeeper and owner at Poland Spring Resort, a place that first welcomed guests to the area in 1794, knows the keys to successful event planning. LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @ LAMetroMagazine.com


of events and know what does and doesn’t work for our location,” emphasizes Dunham. “Adhere to the deadlines for each stage of the planning process.” “Do not take on more than you can handle and don’t try to do everything yourself,” Kibort and Dunham stated.

“Keep in mind the purpose of the event- whether it is a charity event fundraiser, a family reunion, or a wedding. Make the event individual to you and your tastes,” said Robbins, who first started working at the inn in 1971 at age 16. “We can give you the place and the food and beverages and some decorations, but you need to put your own signature on the event.”

“Get together a crew to help you with certain aspects of your event. Assign tasks for each member to help you with details,” advises Dunham. “It’s important to remember that if you try to do it all yourself you’ll likely create additional stress and lose focus of other important aspects. Enlist the help of friends, family and dedicated professionals,” adds Kibort. And Robbins cautions, “Do not over-extend your budget; do only what you can afford. It’s all about people getting together for the event,” said Robbins. “Whether it ends up burgers and hot dogs or a lob-

She cited a unique event, the Maine Heritage Scramble, that raises awareness and money to benefit the Poland Spring Preservation Society. “We encourage the golfers to wear old fashion garb and other fun things. And we decorate our course with historic posters of people that have played golf here, like Babe Ruth.” Robbins also said that a timeline is essential for planning purposes.

ster feed, people should simply enjoy themselves.”

“Make a timeline for when each part of the event needs to be done. Make it easy to accomplish and don’t wait to the last week to finish everything.”

How much lead time is needed in planning an event?

Avoiding the pitfalls The event planning experts have a solid list of things “not to do” when planning an event. “Do not assume anything,” said Dunham. “If you have questions, or don’t understand something, ask. It is much easier to fix something we know about, than to wait until the day of the event and want things changed.” “Don’t procrastinate,” is echoed by all three experts. “The event planner is here to help you with the ‘planning’ of your event. We have done hundreds 56


A matter of time

“It depends on the type of event,” said Kibort. “For weddings, I would recommend at least a year in advance, to secure your preferred vendors. For other special events, like anniversaries, milestone birthdays or corporate celebrations I’d plan around six to eight months out. You need to plan out for the availability of venues, caterers and other vendors.” “I always suggest the sooner, the better,” said Dunham. “Bigger events need longer lead time, while smaller events are typically a little more flexible.”

Capacity for guests It is important to know how many guests you anticipate and what kind of set-up you want for the venue

and event. The facilities we talked to have many different options. “We can accommodate up to 220 for a cocktail reception and around 150 for a seated reception,” said Kibort about the Royal Oak Room. “We’ve been at our maximum capacity of just over 200 guests for a few events including our Harvest Moon celebrations, as well as proms and corporate holiday events.” “In our Maine Inn, we can seat 250 guests. In the Poland Spring Museum we can do 100 for cocktails and in Cyndi’s Dockside, we can seat 55,” said Robbins about the Poland Spring complex. “The largest group we’ve hosted was a Christmas party for 300.” Perhaps the most accommodating set-up is at the Hilton Garden Inn. “The Grand Ballroom is approximately 4,400 square feet, and has a capacity of 310,” said Dunham. “Our Ballroom is equipped with air walls that can divide the larger space into three smaller function spaces, which are ideal for corporate breakout spaces and events with a smaller number of attendees. But we can easily seat 300 guests, as we often do for LA Metropolitan Chamber breakfasts or for numerous wedding receptions.”

Food, glorious food When it comes to feeding people, consider what your guests will most enjoy. “Clients tend to focus on food they prefer, which is a great foundation and can be an inspiration for the menu,” said Kibort. “However, it is important to remember your guests and to ensure that everyone will find something to enjoy.” “We know you will never satisfy everyone all of the time, but try to select items that are well received by all who will attend, taking in to consideration you may have someone who doesn’t eat meat or who has special dietary needs,” said Dunham. “You also have to remember the timing of the event, which tells you whether you need breakfast, lunch, or dinner options. Plan for the times when your guests will be the hungriest.” Robbins advice about food is concise. “Choose food items based on taste, color, and whether it holds up well.” LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @ LAMetroMagazine.com


Staffing the event “Typically, my rule of thumb for staffing events is one server for every 20 guests. This is only a guideline; depending on the agenda, meal plan, and timeframe, this would be adjusted accordingly,” said Dunham. “If we are serving a full plated meal, I will bring in extra staff to help expedite the meal as quickly as possible, to provide the guests with the best overall experience. On the flip side to that, if the event consists of only a coffee and water station, one server can host up to 100 guests.” “The number of staff depends on the size of the event,” said Kibort. “We always have our property manager and event coordinator onsite to ensure the event runs smoothly and that clients have a single point of contact, should they need anything, as well as for vendors have a go-to person to help them with whatever they need,” said Kibort. “Beyond that, we have anywhere from one to four bartenders, depending on the number of guests. Since we allow clients to bring in the licensed caterer of their choice, the number of food service staff depends on the caterer.”

“I have a great assistant, Erica Jackson, who is at most of the events and we share duties making sure everything goes right. Depending on the size of the event, we could have another nine people plus our chef, five people cooking, two bartenders, two or more dishwashers and sometimes someone at a wedding ceremony to make sure the bride and groom are getting exactly what they want.”

When the unexpected happens “At any event, something will go wrong,” predicts Robbins. “I’ve had the best man have his flight cancelled and miss the wedding entirely. I’ve seen wedding cake towers turn into leaning towers and little kids screaming during the wedding service. Sometimes you can quickly jump in and fix it, and other times it just becomes part of the memories.”

“Event planning can be a fast-paced, stressful career, but it can also be very rewarding.”

Staffing can vary considerably for Robbins.



“I’ve seen my share of mishaps over the years, ranging from vendors not showing up to wardrobe malfunctions, and even a groom falling ill and ending up in the hospital the morning of his wedding,” said Kibort. “We prepare our staff to deliver the highest level of service to our clients and their guests, no matter what need may arise. Sometimes that means

by Dan Marois | Making the Most of Your Next Event

taking the role of seamstress when zippers break or pants split, or running out to buy flowers and make centerpieces on the spot. There is no task or act too small or big that we aren’t equipped to handle.” “Even the best planned events can sometimes have a small hiccup. A seasoned event planner needs to be ready for anything,” reflects Dunham. “I have sewn buttons on a groom’s tuxedo 15 minutes before the ceremony, I have shooed off a skunk from the wedding archway, I have re-made boutonnieres for the groom and his ushers after the stems broke, I have lent a bridesmaid my shoes, and I should own stock in the safety pin industry. My ‘tool box’ wouldn’t be complete without plenty of safety pins, needles and thread, tape, Tide pens, and floral wire.”

Working in the industry “Event planning can be a fast-paced, stressful career, but it can also be very rewarding. When I receive a thank you note from a newly married couple that I worked with, thanking me for making their special day perfect, all the long hours and preparations are so worth it,” said Dunham. “If you are organized, don’t mind a constantly changing schedule, having to be on your toes always, having a plan “B” in your back pocket at all times, and doing it all with a smile on your face, you may find out why I love my job!”

“It’s critical for anyone looking to get into this business to develop the ability to successfully juggle many tasks at once and have the understanding that no matter how big or small, you must be up for the challenge,” said Kibort. “There are so many aspects that go into an event - research, vendor relationships, client needs and then, of course, executing the event itself. Clear communication, a creative mind and a willingness to do whatever it takes are equally important.” Veteran innkeeper, Robbins, summarizes the task nicely. “Love what you do. It’s a lot of hard work, but every event is a pleasure.” Poland Spring Resort 640 Maine Street, Poland polandspringinns.com Hilton Garden Inn Auburn Riverwatch 14 Great Falls Plaza, Auburn hiltongardeninn3.hilton.com Royal Oak Room at Ironhorse Court 1 Bates Street, Lewiston royaloakroom.com

Hilton Garden Inn Small Party LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @ LAMetroMagazine.com




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f you follow the news, you might be inclined to believe that manufacturing is a dying industry in the United States. The headlines are everywhere, reminding us just how many of these jobs are moving overseas. If you are old enough to remember when mills were the largest employers in the Lewiston Auburn area, you may lament their loss, seeing their demise as yet a further sign of the decline of manufacturing.

The truth is that the manufacturing industry is changing, as it has changed and will continue to change. Lewiston Auburn is a prime example of how this shift in manufacturing is occurring. We once had large factories churning out huge volumes of product and employing the vast number of our residents. It was a solid model upon which many of the foundations of this area were built. But, as we see here in our hometown, that model has changed drastically. Our mills are being repurposed for other commercial enterprise, our residents are developing new skill sets, and the general look and feel of LA is changing as a result of all this activity. The new look of manufacturing in LA isn’t as apparent as the iconic mills of the past. You’ve got to dig a little deeper. Today’s LA-based manufacturers don’t need huge buildings along the mighty Androscoggin River. They tend to be smaller and leaner, thus more nimble and able to react to market conditions much more quickly than the behemoth factories of yesteryear. Most often, they are in small industrial parks, down little known alleyways, or on the outskirts of town. We feature three such manufacturers that are still “Making It in LA.”




by David Muise

Manufacturers are still going strong LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @ LAMetroMagazine.com


MCINTOSH & COMPANY CABINETMAKERS Todd McIntosh is from Rockland. Like many a Mainer, he moved away... and came back. During that time, he was a PGA golf pro working throughout New England and Florida. “I spent a lot of time fixing golf clubs,” says McIntosh. “I’ve always worked with my hands.” It was this penchant for working with his hands that McIntosh says led him to the construction trade. “I got married, had kids, settled down- typical story,” says McIntosh. “I started building kitchens, built-in cabinetry and staircases out my place in New Gloucester.”

McIntosh’s growth McIntosh’s business changed over the years. He got into what he calls “high-end, custom cabinetry”. He founded a company in 2002 with a partner and began marketing these services to areas he suspected would have the big budgets for these sorts of projects: Boston and New York. He landed some big projects and the word got around about this Mainer with a great work ethic and attention to detail. As the business grew so, too, did McIntosh’s need for more space to construct his custom work.

McIntosh partly credits this environment to the success he’s had with one of manufacturing’s biggest hurdles- finding and keeping a good crew. “You get a key employee you train up for 5 years, then they leave,” says McIntosh. “We’re not big enough to have someone waiting in the wings- you’re screwed.” McIntosh says that “retention versus recruitment” is his strategy. He says that when he does hire, he tries to hire the person instead of the job. What he means is that hiring someone who is a good fit in the shop is often more important than hiring someone who has all the skills needed to do a specific job; McIntosh can teach many of those skills.

“That’s the motto right there... There is always a way.”

“I looked all around Southern Maine and landed in Lewiston,” says McIntosh. “Space here was far cheaper than anything in the Portland area.” McIntosh & Company is located in the historic Hill Mill in downtown Lewiston- coincidentally, in the space that housed the original carpenter’s shop that serviced the Hill Mill. The space occupies about 9,000 square feet and looks very much like what you’d expect- large machinery, lumber, cabinetmakers at work. What you might not expect are the number of dogs roaming around. “It’s a pretty laid back environment,” says McIntosh. “I bring my dog to work and so do a few of the other guys.”



“Crazy” projects With a strong team in place, McIntosh & Company has been able to develop a solid repertoire of work and comfortable niche in the market. “We have a reputation for taking on crazy projects,” says McIntosh. “Let’s see... we did a lot of work on the Jack Daniels RV, a promotional bus that goes to NASCAR events. We also had a client that wanted a stand for a meditation gong- no designs or anything. He just told me that he liked cobras and water. We got it done.” How is it exactly that McIntosh & Company has developed such a reputation for getting these, sometimes crazy, custom projects done? McIntosh points to a card that hangs in his office; it says: “There Is a Way.” “That’s the motto right there,” he says. “There is always a way.”

FUTUREGUARD In the building formerly occupied by the footwear manufacturer Etonic, sits a small company doing big business. Futureguard was founded in 1979 by Don Buteau, when he purchased a small aluminum awning shop. Since that time, the company has morphed into a major player in the outdoor living space market and has spawned numerous subsidiaries. “A pivotal moment for us was when we introduced the first fabric awnings into the market in 1999,” says Brian Buteau, son of Don. “Until that time, everything was aluminum. The fabric awnings allowed us to better meet the growing aesthetic demands of the market.”

Integration is the key Brian says the key to company’s success has been integration. The work flow and materials are 85% in-

tegrated at Futureguard, meaning that raw materials are brought in but most everything is made in-house. An example of this would be the fabric awnings. The fabric itself is purchased in huge rolls, but the actual awnings are cut, sewn and fitted at the facility in Auburn. Brian told us about another example of integration that led to a profitable lateral expansion. “We powder coat most of the metal framing that is used in the installation of the awnings,” says Brian. “We do this powder coating in-house and have a very skilled crew that facilitates the process. We realized there was a niche in the market for this application and decided to purchase another business, Performance Powder and Paint. It’s located just down the street from our Futureguard headquarters.” These types of moves typify the success of the Buteau Family and their team. They take on well-calculated risk based on successes they’ve had within their core business. Further, they pay close attention to the ever-changing demands of the marketplace.

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Expansion “Two years ago, we introduced retractable solar screens,” says Brian. “Currently, we are expanding into screen rooms, which will help us reach a customer base that we don’t currently have.” Futureguard sells its products in 48 states, plus Canada. Brian says that it would be far more cost-effective to be more centrally located, given the cost of shipping. “But we’re from Maine and we’re not going anywhere,” says Brian.

“This is woodworking as fine art, every piece of furniture that leaves here has the signature of the cabinetmaker who worked on it.”

Futureguard employs about 80 people here in the LA area. They are currently operating at capacity and have a $4.5 million expansion planned at the facility on Merrow Road in Auburn.

Rick Foss and George Estabrook are two of the craftsmen who helped spearhead the initiatives that would lead to one of the most important changes at Thos. Moser. These changes are part and parcel of how Thos. Moser continues to grow and be successful in the manufacturing industry.

“Customer service and skilled labor are the hallmarks of our success,” says Brian. “Without these two things, none of these expansions would be possible.”

The birth of “lean”

THOS. MOSER The story is well known by now. In 1972, a Bates College professor leaves teaching to restore the lost art of fine woodworking. He works out of an old Grange Hall in New Gloucester. He builds the brand we know today as Thos. Moser. What you may not know is that in 1987, as the business grew, the company built a new workshop in Auburn where they continued to

©DanMarquisPhotography.com 66

produce fine, handcrafted American furniture. And, that as the manufacturing sector began changing, so too did Thos. Moser. Instead of moving production to cheaper and more efficient locations around the world, they invested in figuring out how to meet the changing landscape head on right here in LA.


“Lean Manufacturing really changed the business,” says Foss. “At its most basic, it’s a systematic process of reducing waste.” Lean Manufacturing can be a bit nebulous for those uninitiated. It is largely based on a set of Japanese principles first used in business by the car manufacturer, Toyota. Those principles set out to achieve improvements in productivity, quality and lead time

by David Muise | Making It in LA

by eliminating waste through the Japanese word, kaizen, which basically means “change for the better” or “good change.” “So we used to practice a model called Economic Order Quantity,” says Foss. “We basically had lots of lumber and we would manufacture all the various parts of each piece of furniture and have them laying around ready to use. Now we look at what our customers are buying and manufacture to that end, instead of stockpiling everything.” Basically, they held lots of overhead waiting for the time when that overhead could be used to make a finished piece. Now they can produce a single chair in a day and half, versus making 10 pieces of a chair in a day. They manufacture directly to the orders that need to be fulfilled. Sounds pretty standard, but it turns out that these practices require a significant overhaul to be put into place. “We broke the business into seven units,” says Foss. “Each has it own work group and they manage their own business. We invested in a lot of training for these self-directed work groups and now every business unit is cross-trained in every other business unit.” Estabrook and Foss explain that Thos. Moser now has far fewer supervisors than in the past, as their cabinetmakers actually direct most of their own workflow. They say it increases productivity and a cabinetmaker’s ownership over their unit’s projects.

Apprenticeship Another facet of the changing manufacturing landscape is finding well-trained employees that can work in this type of self-directed fashion. Thos. Moser worked with the Maine Apprenticeship Program and Central Maine Community College to develop the first ever Woodworking Apprenticeship Program in the state of Maine. “I came through the Apprenticeship Program,” says Estabrook. “I learned the leadership skills necessary to help me be successful in the role I now have at Thos. Moser.” Foss and Estabrook both stress that Thos. Moser is ©DanMarquisPhotography.com still producing fine handcrafted furniture. But, they

know firsthand how important it is to the company that the old manufacturing models needed to be updated and, quite frankly, changed in order to continue being successful in LA. “This is woodworking as fine art,” says Foss. “Every piece of furniture that leaves here has the signature of the cabinetmaker who worked on it.” While the manufacturing landscape may be changing, there are still companies like Thos. Moser, who are adapting while keeping the commitment that a signature implieshandcrafted, American-made furniture.

Still making it in LA In short, businesses are still “Making It In LA.” LA’s manufacturing sector is actually growing again- it just looks and operates a little differently than what we are used to. In fact, most of those manufacturing in LA fall into the category of “small business,” the same category into which falls almost 97% of all businesses in Maine, and that employ close to 58% of all Mainers. So, don’t let the headlines get you down- manufacturing is happening here in LA, it has simply turned toward the more traditional Maine way: smaller and often family owned and operated. That sounds like something we can get behind. So, seek out those products being made right here in your own backyard.

McIntosh & Company Cabinetmakers 41 Chestnut Street, Lewiston mcintosh.company Futureguard 101 Merrow Road, Auburn futureguard.net Thos. Moser 72 Wright’s Landing, Auburn thosmoser.com LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @ LAMetroMagazine.com





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LA Metro Magazine - Winter 2018  

LA Metro Magazine - Winter 2018