The Village Cafe might be Maine’s most missed restaurant

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The Village Cafe in Portland, Maine

If you’re one of the many locals who were born and raised in Maine, you’ve seen many favorite restaurants come and go, especially in Portland. What was once a small, off-the-grid metropolis is now a bustling culinary scene that attracts New England’s hottest restaurants, what seems to be every month.

The Village Cafe was a unanimous fan favorite of all for the 71 years it was open. The Italian spot opened in 1936 and held the fort until 2007. The dark, cozy atmosphere hosted family gatherings every night. As owner John Reali shared with The Bollard, regulars flocked to wedding rehearsals, family reunions, birthdays and even funerals to celebrate those who have passed since it was their favorite restaurant.

Whether it was the homemade lasagna, the veal parmesan, or the poppyseed dressing, The Village Cafe was a nostalgic spot for your home-away-from-home dinner.

Why did the village cafe close?

The village was family owned and operated until they closed. The Reali kept it in their family for generations and passed it on to the next son on the bridge when one of them retired. Their family welcomed other families with open arms and created a comfortable and memorable place to spend time with their loved ones.

Everyone loved this intimate place, so why did they close?

As John Reali shared in The Bollard article, competition from restaurants began to flood Portland over the years and it was difficult to maintain such a large space. The restaurant could seat 550 people and small, intimate rooms are the new norm. The building needed too many repairs to keep running, which would cost too much, and he wasn’t sure they could keep their heads in the water with all the new spots opening up in the city.

Restaurants We Miss in Maine

I mourn the loss of the Village Cafe like the death of a family. I grew up within these walls, dining there weekly with my family and celebrating each of our holidays and special occasions at one of their stalls. I probably spent hundreds of dollars in quarters at that giant gumball machine they had parked out front.

The Village is just one of the many restaurants that we hold dear and that remind us of our childhood in the Pine State. Let’s take a trip down memory lane with restaurants that have closed and that we want to stay open:

These 50 Restaurants Have Closed in Maine and We Want Them to Come Back

A nostalgic list that makes your stomach growl. Do you remember them?

10 Authentic and Cozy Italian Restaurants in the Greater Portland Area

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