Saco + Biddeford
As soon as the clock hits 5 p.m., I head straight for my car, put on my summer adventuring playlist, and get onto 295, ready for a weekend of new people, delicious food, and exploring my beautiful home state.
5:30 p.m. @ Suger
My very first stop is Julian Schlaver and Roxi Suger’s boutique, Suger. The shop is the retail home to Suger’s clothing line, Angelrox. Suger is carrying on the tradition of textile manufacturing in Biddeford, basing the production of her sustainable, organic, cotton clothes in the nearby Pepperell Mill Campus, built more than 150 years ago by the Pepperell Manufacturing Company. I pick up a convertible wrap dress after Mariah Foss gives me a tutorial explaining the different ways to wear it.
6:30 p.m. @ Farrell & Co.
Roxi Suger walks me to my next destination, the studio of Meg Farrell. Farrell designs, hand-cuts, hand-stitches, and assembles beautiful leather bags with materials sourced from United States tanneries. After I’ve spent some time drooling over her bags and mill studio space, Farrell and her husband, Greg Mitchell of Palace Diner, send me off with dinner suggestions.
7:00 p.m. on Main Street
Tonight is the monthly Biddeford and Saco ArtWalk, and Biddeford’s Main Street is buzzing by the time I arrive. I head to Elements for a pick-me-up in the form of a chai tea latte that rivals some of my favorites in Portland. I also visit Engine, the community arts organization that coordinates the art walk. The atmosphere in its gallery space is creative and fun. Executive director Tammy Ackerman introduces me to 14-year- old Wyatt, who gives me a tour of the Maine FabLab at Engine. He designs and makes me a little blue ring with a 3-D printer as a parting gift.
8:15 p.m. @ Custom Deluxe
I eagerly head for the one-year-old Custom Deluxe for dinner. The general manager, Megan McVey, is my server for the evening. Her fiancé and the chef, Thomas Malz, prepares a heavenly dish called Chicken and Eggs, based on his grandmother’s chicken and rice casserole. I leave happy and full, with leftovers for a midnight snack.
9:30 p.m. @ Maine Seaside Rentals
I head to the cottage that Marysue Emhiser from Maine Seaside Rentals has arranged for me. The cottage is one of the last five houses in Biddeford before entering Kennebunkport.
7:45 a.m.m @ Biscuits & Company
My mom meets me for breakfast, and we both order the “Big” Biscuit sandwich. The moist but crumbly biscuit and the red pepper jelly are the stars. Another breakfast sandwich that looks tempting is named after Dana Johnson, who is on the founders wall alongside her husband, Caleb Johnson of Caleb Johnson Architects and Builders, which assisted with the design and build-out of the space. Owner Stacy Cooper opened the breakfast and lunch spot after winning the Heart of Biddeford’s Main Street Challenge in 2014, which offered start-up financing and assistance to companies that would enhance the downtown.
9:00 a.m. on RiverWalk Bridge
After breakfast, we walk to the RiverWalk Bridge, a pedestrian bridge that connects Biddeford and Saco. The walkway over the Saco River is a recent addition, surrounded on both sides by historic mills.
10:00 a.m. @ Pepperell Mill Campus
Once we arrive for our tour, we meet Peter Lamontagne and Don Guillerault, who worked in the mill for 38 and 43 years, respectively. They guide us through the old textile manufacturing rooms while joking with each other about the “old days” at the mill. We end the tour with a trip to the below-sea-level lagoon that was part of the hydropower system for the former textile-weaving operation. The cavernous space looks like a scene out of The Goonies.
After our tour of the 17- acre mill complex, we pass Sweetcream Dairy and cannot resist stopping at the counter of the newly opened ice cream shop. We meet Jon Denton and Jacqui DeFranca, the duo behind Sweetcream’s handmade, pasteurized in- house ice cream. The PB&J on Wonderbread flavor instantly becomes one of my favorite ice creams.
1:00 p.m. @ Wood Island Lighthouse
On the boat ride over, Brad Coupe and Sean Murphy of the Friends of Wood Island Lighthouse tell us the story of the group, which came together to renovate and restore the lighthouse to its 1906 state. We fall in love with the lighthouse thanks to its perfectly Maine charm and the friendly and knowledgeable volunteer tour guides.
After returning by boat across Saco Bay, we walk only a few steps to our late lunch destination, F.O. Goldthwaite’s. My mom and I share onion rings, clam chowder, and our favorite stories from the morning, while enjoying the view from the back patio.
After dinner, I jump in my car and try to chase down the sunset. I drive down Granite Point Road and Mile Stretch Road, taking in my last night in Biddeford and pining over the seaside homes.
For my long-awaited breakfast at Palace Diner, I select corned beef hash with two over-easy eggs, white toast, and Palace Potatoes. I also order the famous fried chicken to go because although I am not ready for fried chicken yet, I will be in a few hours. Gluttonous? Perhaps. Worth it? Definitely.
Proprietor Don Lindgren shows me his eye-opening collection of rare and out-of-print menus, cookbooks, and memorabilia. After plenty of browsing I leave with James Beard’s Theory and Practice of Good Cooking.
Even with my Palace Diner fried chicken in tow, I can’t pass the adorable Rapid Ray’s in Saco without stopping for a hot dog. Feeling inspired by the retro vibe at Rapid Ray’s, I head across the street to Dreaming Tree Vintage. Kristin Furrow, the owner, helps me find the acid=washed, high-waisted jeans of my dreams and a fabulous 1960’s minidress.