Linda Bean, whose brand name is building new markets for Maine lobster, is expanding with the purchase of the three-story building at the corner of Main and Bow Streets in Freeport, directly across from the LL Bean flagship store.
The 7,600+/-sf building was previously home to Bath & Body Works and Zales Jewelry. Bean plans to convert the building to a restaurant featuring Maine lobster and locally grown Maine agricultural products. She started in Freeport three years ago with a takeout, then added an umbrella cafe, and this season participated in the Freeport community farmer’s market every Friday. Now she is preparing to combine local resources to create a restaurant that could operate year round with local fresh grown food.
Her last 20 years have been spent in two fishing villages of the midcoast: Tenants Harbor and Port Clyde, where she entered the lobster business in 2007. Before that she raised her children on a working agricultural farm in Windsor with her late husband, Verne Jones. Currently her three lobster wharves host about 100 lobster boats, and her Rockland processing plant employs some 50 Maine workers.
George Denney, founder of Cole Haan Footwear which he sold to Nike in 1988, sold the brick building to Bean with a 25-car satellite parking lot on Depot Street, saying, “I’ve known Linda since we were teens working in the upstairs salesroom of LL Bean, and this is the best idea coming to Freeport in this new decade of growth for Freeport: a local person advancing a local industry with locally grown foods.”
Bean has been talking with Pineland Farms in New Gloucester about fresh supply of its varied local farm products. The Pineland Farms family of brands includes Gillespie Farms sweet corn, strawberries and other vegetables, Olivia’s Garden tomatoes and salad greens, Pineland Farms Natural Meats as well as nationally acclaimed cheeses from the Pineland Farms Creamery. Most recently, a full line of potato products from Aroostook County and sold under the name Naturally Potatoes was added to the Pineland Farms family of fresh Maine products.
“It is great to see Linda’s sincere commitment to the native industries of Maine,” said Craig Denekas, Executive Vice President of the Libra Foundation, the organization behind Pineland Farms’ startup nearly ten years ago.
Over the past two years, Bean has paired her branded lobster in cafés at Camden, Port Clyde, Portland and Delray Beach, Florida, with the brands of two other Maine entrepreneurs, Fred Forsley who owns SHIPYARD BREWERY in Portland and bottles the Captain Eli line of soft drinks, and US Air pilot Bryan Pullen who has just been licensed to bottle premium grade all natural Raw Water from Summit Spring, Harrison.
Live music on weekends and a year-round presence with pub upstairs is a vision Linda has for her destination restaurant in Freeport.
Greg Boulos, partner of CBRE| The Boulos Company who brokered this transaction
said, “Linda purchased the best retail corner in Freeport and one of the best in the entire state of Maine. The property’s location across from L.L. Bean’s main entrance makes this a strategic location for anyone doing business in Freeport. The building is flanked by Polo/Ralph Lauren, J. Crew and Tommy Hilfiger, and the new parking garage at Freeport Village Station is steps from her door. In terms of location, it doesn’t get any better than this.”
Bean started featuring her fishermen’s catch in Freeport three summers ago across the street from the LL Bean flagship store with a takeout window which she plans to retain for her popular Maine lobster roll, now featured at 9 locations including Nantasket Beach in Massachusetts and at St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands.
In 2009, she added an umbrella cafe on the roof of Ben & Jerry’s. “Sitting up there this year, I noted 88 Main Street across the street was looking for new occupants. I remembered the site when I was growing up in Freeport, going there with my father to eat simple plated meals at Frank’s Restaurant and drinking milk coffee velvets with my mother at Johnson’s Drug Store. In between was Ye Green Tea Kettle, a quaint gift shop. When Freeport became a shopper mecca, the building was recreated in brick with unified mechanical systems. I thought, ‘I ought to take a look at that.’”
Linda Beans Maine Lobster T and Linda Bean’s Perfect Maine® brands are Linda’s own vision of how to present Maine’s natural resource products in a whole new light for today’s markets that demand sustainable harvest practices and traceability to the source. Currently her product line includes shippable live native lobster wild caught off midcoast Maine where the currents, water temperature, and rocky bottoms combine to elevate the quality to its highest level; also carefully processed soft shell lobster, keeping it in Maine instead of sending it to Canada for processing. Linda produces succulent bulk cooked lobster meat for catering and restaurant use, her own lobster bisque and stew, and new lobster treats entering the frozen food market late fall of 2010. Linda’s Maine products are being positioned for green and sustainable markets nationwide, including supermarkets, club stores, national restaurant chains and independent restaurants.