The Village Cafe Might Be the Most Missed Restaurant in Maine
The Village Cafe in Portland, Maine
If you’re one of many locals that have been born and raised in Maine, you have seen many favorite restaurants come and go, especially in Portland. What used to be a tiny metropolitan off the grid is now a lively culinary scene bringing in the hottest restaurants in New England what feels like every month.
The Village Cafe was a unanimous fan favorite among all for the 71 years it was open. The Italian spot opened its doors in 1936 and held the fort down until 2007. The dark and cozy atmosphere welcomed family gatherings nightly. As the owner John Reali had shared with The Bollard, regulars flocked in for wedding rehearsals, family reunions, birthdays, and even funerals to celebrate those who passed away since it was their favorite restaurant.
Whether it was for the homemade lasagna, veal parmesan, or poppyseed dressing, The Village Cafe was a nostalgic place to have dinner at your home away from home.
Why Did The Village Cafe Close?
The Village was family-owned and operated until they closed their doors. The Reali’s kept it in their family for generations and passed it to the next son on deck when one retired. Their family welcomed other families with open arms and created a cozy and memorable place to spend time with loved ones.
Everyone loved the homey spot, so why did they close?
As John Reali shared in The Bollard article, restaurant competition started to flood Portland as the years went on and it was hard to keep up as such a large space. The restaurant sat 550 people and small, intimate settings are the new norm. The building needed too many repairs to keep it going that would cost too much, and it wasn’t certain they could keep their heads afloat with all the new spots opening around the city.
Restaurants We Miss in Maine
I mourn the loss of The Village Cafe like a family passing. I grew up in those walls, having dinner there weekly with my family and celebrating every single one of our holidays and special occasions in one of their booths. I probably spent hundreds in quarters at that giant bubble gum machine they had stationed out front.
The Village is just one of many restaurants we hold in our hearts that remind us of our childhoods in the Pine State. Let’s take a trip down memory lane together with restaurants that have closed and we wish were still open: