A couple of months after the owners of Fiddlehead Restaurant in downtown Bangor said they would close their eatery for good over the winter of 2023, two new local restaurateurs announced Sunday that they’d be moving into Fiddlehead’s former Hammond Street location.
The Butcher The Baker, owned by Hermon residents Carl Birmingham and Brittany LeVasseur, is set to open this May at 84 Hammond St., according to a Facebook post.
The Fiddlehead, owned and operated for more than 13 years by Laura Peppard and Melissa Chaiken, was closed in January, but reopened for a few weekends in February before offering its final dinner service on Feb. 25.
Birmingham and LeVasseur started a food truck called The Butcher The Baker in 2021, offering what they describe as “new American scratch kitchen” food — an eclectic mix of American and world cuisines, ranging from favorites like pasta, poutine, chili and cheese and charcuterie boards, to curries, Thai-inspired noodle dishes and falafel.
“We both agree that feeding people and families is our passion,” said LeVasseur, who grew up in Fort Fairfield. “Our families always celebrate around food so it just makes sense to have a restaurant in the family.”
The pair said in their Facebook post that two of their signature dishes — chicken and waffles and birria tacos — will be on the menu when the restaurant opens this spring. They also said the restaurant will be open for lunch and dinner.
Out of the many roles in the restaurant industry the two have held, LeVasseur worked as general manager of High Tide Restaurant in Brewer, while Birmingham, a Bucksport native, served as head chef at The Boomhouse, a now-closed restaurant in Old Town.
After about 18 months operating The Butcher The Baker as a food truck and caterer, the pair knew they’d proven that their business model was successful. They connected with Chaiken and Peppard, who for some time had been considering leaving the restaurant industry, but wanted to sell the business to someone, rather than simply close.
“Our original plan before the food truck was to have a brick and mortar. The food truck was just a happy accident. It fell into our laps at the right time. After having such a successful first season, it showed us people need and love our food,” LeVasseur said. “Laura and Mel’s confidence in us and patience while we navigated the sale was refreshing. They want this for us as much as we do. We can’t thank them enough.”
The Fiddlehead Restaurant opened in fall 2009, and at the time was a breath of fresh air in a downtown Bangor that had relatively few options for fine dining. Chaiken had a unique take on food, drawing on her Japanese and Malaysian roots while incorporating local ingredients and French techniques.
Other downtown businesses that saw changes recently included Valentine Footwear and Maine Jewelry & Art, which both closed in early January. Mark and Kim Hopper, owners of Bangor Sandwich Co., sold their business in December, and Cheryl Michaud sold West Market Square Artisan Coffeehouse to Wayne Johnson and Aaron Parker, who renamed it Chimera Coffee.