Christopher Godin, 58, ran the long-running and beloved Granny's Burritos until closing it in 2017.
On Monday night, a car passes the Cumberland Avenue apartment building in Portland, where police say Christopher Godin, 58, was killed on Friday night. Godin ran Granny's Burritos in the city for more than 20 years. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

PORTLAND, Maine — Another piece of the good, old city is now gone forever.

On Monday, the Portland Police Department said Christopher Godin, 58, who ran a local, long-running and beloved burrito shop, was killed in his Cumberland Avenue apartment building on Friday night.

Police have charged 27-year-old Jonathan Alas with murder. He was found inside the same building with serious injuries and was hospitalized.

Godin ran Granny’s Burritos in several locations across the city, from the 1990s through 2017. He even operated a branch in Newry for a time.

“Granny’s Burritos was a regular stop and Chris was always warm, upbeat, good humored and friendly,” said Patrick Bonsant, who knew Godin and was a steady Granny’s customer. “Pisses me off that this easy-going, fun-loving man was taken away in such a horrific way.”

Bonsant described Godin as “one of Portland’s genuinely good guys.”

Godin began his lengthy Portland burrito run in 1995, opening up a counter-sized operation in the lobby of Granny Killam’s night spot on Market Street. Outlasting the club which gave his business its name, Godin eventually moved to 10 Exchange St. and then upstairs at the aptly numbered 420 Fore St.

The Fore Street location was known for its laid-back vibe and live bluegrass music, with pickers often sharing a joint or two on the backside balcony overlooking Wharf Street.

A dim, relaxing sanctuary Granny’s also was decidedly unfancy, the decor featuring second-hand black velvet paintings and futon couches. It was the kind of friendly and affordable establishment that no longer exists in Portland’s Old Port.

“Chris was a hippy’s hippy who loved music and musicians,” journalist and former Portlander Crash Barry said. “And he loved to feed people.”

It was a time before Portland was a foodie destination. Also at the time, burritos were still an exotic treat, not yet ubiquitous in Maine.

After leaving the Fore Street location, Godin opened a joint barbeque-and-burrito venture with Jonathan St. Laurent of Uncle Billy’s BBQ fame, on Congress Street. The combination did not last long. Godin then ran Granny’s Burritos out of the Sunday River ski area in Newry. That version closed in 2015.

Granny’s final location was inside the Public Market House in Monument Square. There, Godin served many of the same combinations he’d started with 20 years before, including sweet chili, jerk and chicken mango burritos.

Godin closed Granny’s Burritos for the last time in 2017. Friends said Godin had battled addiction in recent years.

“In Chris’s death I feel a failure on all of our parts, on society as a whole. If anyone deserved a break in this world, it was Chris,” said Josh Williamson, Godin’s former roommate. “But rather than find ways to help those in his tough straits, we continue to criminalize poverty, homelessness and addiction. And too often we reach out only after they are gone.”

Many of Godin’s friends and customers posted online on Monday, sharing memories and saying they were stunned at the news.

“We are still trying to comprehend how and why this could have happened,” Dan Tonini said.

Most reiterated their love for Godin and his burritos.

“They are serving Granny’s Burritos in heaven tonight,” longtime Portland musician Ken Grimsley said. “Rest easy, brother.”

Author’s note: I did not know Godin personally, but I live in Portland because of him and his burritos.

In the 1990s and early 2000s, my wife and I ate hundreds of burritos at Granny’s on Fore Street. When we were looking to buy a house, we included properties outside of town, in the suburbs.

Once, we found a house in Standish. It seemed perfect, with a right of way to a pond and a garage. We could even afford it, too.

We decided to drive to Granny’s to eat and think it over. On a whim, we timed how long it took to drive to our favorite burrito joint from the house. It clocked in at nearly an hour.

That was a dealbreaker. There was no way we could live that far away from our beloved burritos with sweet potato, chicken and mixed beans.

Instead, my wife and I kept looking and eventually found a house within walking distance of Granny’s. We still live there.

Avatar photo

Troy R. Bennett

Troy R. Bennett is a Buxton native and longtime Portland resident whose photojournalism has appeared in media outlets all over the world.