A boutique bookstore, fancy cupcake bakery and a West African bistro might not seem like they have too many things in common.
But they’re all businesses now operating in the Rockland-Camden area after opening shop in the coastal downtowns in recent months. Whether you’re looking for a sweet treat, a comforting gift ― for yourself or someone else ― or a dining experience to remember, here’s what you can expect from each of these new additions.
Arctic Tern Books ― 432 Main St., Rockland
The city of Rockland now boasts three bookstores with the addition of Arctic Tern Books on Main Street, which opened its doors in November. The new bookshop joins Hello Hello Books ― located just up Main Street ― and Sherman’s Maine Coast Books, which just opened a new location in Rockland last year.
Owner Allison Worden, of Rockport, calls her business a “boutique bookstore,” offering not just a curated collection of both fiction and nonfiction books, but also a range of comfort items, like teas, blankets, journals and candles.
“What I really wanted to create was a space for people to kind of step away from all of their worries and cares for a while,” Worden said.
Worden spent her career in academic publishing. But after moving to Maine in 2018, she decided to take her dream of opening a boutique store off the backburner. After finding the storefront at 432 Main St. ― which had been empty for at least a couple of years, following the closure of an antique business ― Worden said everything fell into place.
The name Arctic Tern Books refers to a type of migratory bird that flies between the north and south pole each year. With the arctic tern having the largest migratory pattern of any bird, Worden felt this was a great metaphor for discovery.
“I think that we can always find some kind of inspiration for advice or information, it’s all in books. So what I really wanted to do was create a bookstore where people can […] leave their cares at the door, walk in, hear themselves think again, be inspired by something new. Find something comforting,” Worden said.
Arctic Tern Books is open Wednesday through Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m..
Laugh Loud Smile Big ― 38 Main St., Camden
A local cupcake bakery formerly located in Rockport has found a new home on Main Street in Camden.
Laugh Loud Smile Big opened at 38 Main St. earlier this month after having to move from its previous location on Route 90 because the building was sold, according to the Pen Bay Pilot. Laugh Loud Smile Big will be celebrating its 10 year anniversary this summer.
The bakery specializes in eye-catching cupcakes and cakepops that come in a variety of flavor combinations. This week’s menu includes cupcake specials like Boston Cream, chocolate chip cookie dough, and strawberry lemonade, as well as staples like chocolate, lemon curd and salted caramel.
Laugh Loud Smile Big is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. An assortment of cupcakes and cakepops are available for walk-in purchase, though online pre-orders and special orders are also available.
Me Lon Togo ― 10 Leland St., Rockland
Rockland is now home to the newest location of one of Maine’s few West African restaurants, Me Lon Togo.
Jordan Benissan, an immigrant from the West African country of Togo, first opened Me Lon Togo in Searsport five years ago. Benissan then opened a second location in Waterville, however the pandemic forced him to close that location and move to a new location in Camden.
But last year Benissan learned that costly improvements were needed at the space he rented in Camden to meet state fire codes. So, he has since moved once again, this time landing at 10 Leland Street in Rockland.
He’s optimistic his restaurant will be as well received in Rockland as it was just up Route 1 in Camden.
“The feeling I am getting from the local people is that they are very excited to have me in Rockland,” Benissan said. “I am looking forward to my first [summer] season.”
The Rockland location opened in mid-December and is located in the space previously occupied by Maine Kebab, which closed last summer.
Offering a pre-fixe four-course menu, diners choose between a selection of appetizers and over a dozen entrees, including jollof rice, monkfish osso buco, and a vegetarian stew with West African spices and herbs.
Me Lon Togo in Rockland is open Thursday through Saturday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.. Benissan said while the Searsport location is not currently open as a restaurant, he hopes to use it as a space for cooking classes and special events this summer.