For this week's installment of On Location, I've drafted a selective (and subjective) travel guide to Main Street, Westbrook's most diverse and eclectic street. (Brown Street is a close second, but for different reasons.):
Profenno's Pizzeria & Pub (934)
The pizzeria boasts BruChu's favorite pie (onion and pepper, extra crispy, and easy cheese), and the pub is potentially a nightly high school reunion for former Blue Blazes. It is also the last stop in the Neal Dow Pub Crawl.
Leclerc's Service Station (925)
This gas station's vintage pumps were (accidentally) cool even before vintage became hot.
Friendly Discount (922)
Besides boasting the cheapest cigarettes in town (that's the word on the street, anyway), this convenience store also boasts a couple of bizarre and bucolic murals on its brick wall. Also, if there is a news story about the Iraqi immigrant community, it'll probably feature Abbas and Khaery Alhamdany, the two brothers who own the store. They emigrated to America in 1994.
Guidi's Diner (916)
Most everyone raves about the brunch at the Frog and Turtle, but you can't consider yourself true Westbrook folk until you've tried out this greasy spoon.
Martini Lane Discount Beverage (894)
Don't let the stale stench of old booze in the store's entrance scare you away from the widest variety of adult beverages in Westbrook. They even host an occassional wine tasting, so keep your ear to the ground. Or just ask them.
Main Street Cafe (888)
If memory serves correct (it's been awhile), this place has a large menu and many license plates attached to the walls. Can't beat it, I guess (how's that for a raving review?).
Formerly a shady park (both literally and figuratively), this land was razed for development in 2003. Despite the city's ongoing inability to find a suitable proposal, Mayor Chuluda must thank that parcel of land each time he passes it, because the discontent its razing caused among Westbrook residents was arguably a big reason he was able to defeat former Mayor Don Esty in the 2003 mayoral election.
Family Dollar (880)
A poor man's Wal-Mart. Don't underestimate the quality of the cheap crap you can buy here, though.
Westbrook Picture Frame and Fine Arts Gallery (869)
Features work by Westbrook artists Mary Brooking and Caren-Marie Michel. Besides the Westbrook artists, the gallery also represents numerous Maine artists, including Marcia Baker, Corrine Bongiovanni, Sharon Boody-Dean, Jane Croteau, Donald Drake, Diana Johnson, Tony van Hasselt, and Jean Victory. The gallery also displays greeting cards created by Dog Star Creations of Westbrook, stained glass produced by Phoenix Studio, and engraved gifts made by Eastern Awards and Engraving. After you buy all that stuff, you can get it framed by the owner, Ken Atkinson.
Portland Pie Company (869)
Another Portland transplant who saw the light and expanded into Westbrook. Not too shabby pizza, either.
Studio 59 Pilates
It just opened, so I don't know anything about this place. Who'd have thunk it, though, a pilates studio in the heart of the Paper City. Seriously.
Fajita Grill (857)
This Mexican joint replaced the homegrown sports bar Rookies and improved the food. But it also cramped the previously spacious dining room.
The Freaky Bean Coffee Company (855)
A welcome addition to the Westbrook downtown, this Maine chain gives folks a chance to buy a cup of joe and hang out in an appealing atmosphere. It also doubles as the roasting location for the company.
Full Court Press (855)
A print shop celebrating its tenth year on Main Street, Full Court Press staked out real estate here before it was fashionable.
American Journal (840)
As much as I borrow from them, I figure I can give them the shout-out.
Walker Memorial Library (800)
One of Westbrook's two public libraries, it just reopened at the end of last month after being closed for about five months for repairs. Good example of balancing modern renovation with historical elegance.
Unicorn Cove School of Metaphysics (795)
If dream interpretation, Reiki, etc. are your things, this place is for you. Also, check it out if you enjoy atrocious horror movies and/or mind-numbing New Age music.
Big Apple (782)
I've wrote it a couple times already, but I'll write it again: Big Apple boasts an attendant named Walter who is the fastest gas pumper in the city. Seriously, I've timed them all. Okay, maybe not.
The winner of Riverbank Republic's inaugural Best Westbrook Pizza poll, this Main Street landmark's devotion to quality pie is matched only by its stubbornness to accept only cash and personal checks--nothing else.
Dunkin' Donuts (724 and 29)
The downtown location's drive-thru is infamous for forcing the buttocks of SUVs to impede traffic on Main Street most mornings. But the proprietors are forgiven because it doubles as a biker hangout throughout the summer. Guess you've gotta take take the bad with the good. Also, its outer Main Street location proves Westbrook does indeed run on Dunkin'. Hell, we have four of them.
Only the most beautiful place in Westbrook. Now we just have to change it.
Apparently they make the best burrito in the world.
St. Mary's Church (629)
This former Catholic church has been the subject of controversy since a cult proposed to renovate it into a spaceship.
Mister Bagel (609)
Recently moved from the corner of Stroudwater and William Clarke to the former battery store on the corner of Stevens Avenue. Sadly, the owner, John Cottrell, has been diagnosed with cancer. You can help, though, by attending a benefit in his honor Saturday, March 8 at the Italian Heritage Center from 5-11p. According to an e-mail I received, "[t]he evening will include a buffet style dinner, cash bar, DJ and dancing, silent auction, door prizes, and special guest Bob Marley from 5 - 6pm! Proceeds from the event will help John and his family with their expenses." Tickets are $25 and can be bought at Mister Bagel.
A European market that specializes in Russian food.
Leg one of the coveted Paper City Trifecta (a couple games at Colonial Bowling Center and a nightcap at Mill Side Tavern round it out), this Westbrook landmark is in the same league as Guidi's Diner: You are not really a full-blooded Westbrookian if you haven't tried it. For what it's worth, I heartily recommend The Big One with everything.
Warren Memorial Library (479)
One of Westbrook's two public libraries, read Wendy Hykso's first post for a good sales pitch for the book building S.D. Warren built.
Holly's Super Gas (380)
Besides pumping the city's cheapest gas, Holly's attendents sport baggy jeans and all the, um, joy associated with that look.
City Hall (2 York Street)
Yeah, I realize City Hall is on York Street (true fact: it's dubbed York Street because the city bought the building from the York Insurance Co. of Maine for $950,100 in 1995), but it may as well be on Main Street. Kind of an important place.
Vomit Alley (200-91)
If you've ever run this stretch of Main Street, you understand why I call it this. For those who haven't, what do you think happens to your insides when you inhale a noxious cocktail of car exhaust and fast food grease while strenuously exercising? And don't get me started on the neon signs and the strung power wires of this concrete jungle. Fast food and car dealers and pavement, oh my!
Remember when the anchor to this dilapidated parking lot was Bradlees? Much improved gateway to the city, though I do miss Governor's. They've got to do something about those bizarrely-placed stop signs.
- John C.L. Morgan