Ten Ten Pie

Entrepreneurship at Cultural Crossroads

If you stop into Ten Ten Pié and browse for just a few minutes, co-owner Markos Millar will be conversing with customers, many of whom he knows on a first-name basis, while arranging Finnish pies and blueberry buckles alongside pork kimchi steamed buns and huevos rancheros tarts. “Portland has a tremendously supportive food and small-business culture. Entrepreneurs are able to experiment,” said Markos.

Markos arranges treats behind the counter at Ten Ten Pie.

The journey to opening Ten Ten Pié, a takeout bakery/ lunch/ market located on Cumberland Ave. in Portland, began to take shape in 2013 when longtime friends Markos Millar and Atsuko Fujimoto’s passions for food and culture collided. Atsuko, originally from Japan, had been working in the Portland food community for years, as an assistant pastry chef at Fore Street, in production at Standard Baking Co., and as the pastry chef at Miyake. Markos was a high school Spanish teacher and was ready for a change. Their interests and talents merged under the canopy of food enterprise and cultural education, and the idea for a multi-cultural restaurant café featuring crossroads of flavor inspired by French, Japanese, Mexican and Hungarian cuisine was born.

When Markos and Atsuko began dreaming of Ten Ten Pié, the vision was huge. “We wanted to offer a little of everything,” recalled Markos. They approached Tae Chong, Business Advisor in CEI’s StartSmart program, to help turn the vision into reality. “Tae helped us hone the vision and focus on our strengths. He helped us clarify what we wanted to be about by providing a roadmap for our business plan,” said Markos. “For the financial side, we were complete novices. At important decision points, he helped us determine the best approach. Ultimately, we made a business plan that was strong enough to be pitched to four banks, all of whom offered loans.”

The business opened in August 2014, at the crossroads of Portland’s most culturally diverse neighborhood: East Bayside, across the street from Portland Adult Education (PAE), Maine’s largest adult education center with nearly 2,000 New Mainers taking English as a Second Language (ESL) classes, and just off Interstate-295.

Multi-ethnic foods line the shelves in the local market.

“The first year felt like endless work,” said Markos. He and Atsuko ran the business as the only employees for that first year.  As Ten Ten Pié has become more established, Markos and Atsuko have moved from the model of adding employees who simply assist their work, to creating specific roles and responsibilities for each team member. “We try to create systems where our employees are trained and empowered to do their jobs successfully, while being supported and having a sense of autonomy. To reach the business’ full potential, we have to tap into the talent and vision of our employees and our community.” Currently, three years after opening, Markos and Atsuko employ three part-time staff in addition to their full-time roles in the business.

Tae Chong has continued to provide support and connections to the co-owners as the business grows. Tae explained, “When I met Yolanda, a Congolese baker trained in French pastry, and a student at PAE who was interning for another well-known baker in Portland, she was looking for a job. She is a highly skilled professional, and I immediately thought she would fit in at Ten Ten Pié, who was looking to hire another baker.” Now, Yolanda bakes part-time at Ten Ten Pié and continues to take ESL classes across the street.

Ten Ten Pié is a Spanish phrase that means snack and translates literally to keep you on your feet. What the bakery market offers on the shelves is emblematic of its role in the community: it is foreign and exotic enough to be exciting, but comfortable and familiar enough that customers feel they have a place and can connect with the food. Markos remarked, “We offer a little bit of something for a lot of different people.”

Kendall Community Case Management Agency

Andrea Kendall of Perry, Maine worked at minimum wage jobs as a cashier, a salmon pen net mender, and office worker/manager while she was raising her family. In 1992, at the age of 42, and with the encouragement and full support of her now-husband David, she took a giant step and went to college to earn a Bachelor’s degree with a concentration in Human Services and a minor in Computer Applications.

A licensed social worker since 1997, Andrea chose to leave her stressful position with the State of Maine Department of Health and Human Services at the age of 62. The job search that followed was unsuccessful, so Andrea made the decision to branch out on her own and start her own business. “My biggest worry was whether or not I had the smarts in me or enough business acumen to do it,” said Andrea.

“Working with Ruth Cash-Smith, my Women’s Business Center advisor, made me feel positive about myself and helped me believe I should go for it. I learned to write a business plan and do cash flows. I now understand how important these are to my business.”

A year after she started working with the Women’s Business Center, Andrea launched Kendall Community Case Management Agency, a case management firm serving clients with intellectual disabilities and/or autism spectrum disorders.

Lofts at Saco Falls (Saco-Lowell Shops), Biddeford

State Historic Tax Credit Financing

The 20th century saw a huge shift in textile manufacturing from New England to the American South, and ultimately overseas. This seismic change posed enormous challenges for towns along the Saco River, home to some of the largest cotton milling complexes in the country. As orders dried up, it became impossible for the Saco-Lowell Shops in Biddeford to survive. By 2015, the building was virtually empty, and it had been years since any significant maintenance had been done. A leaking roof and broken windows compromised structural members and rotted the floors.

Lack of interest in reviving the property was due primarily to its location next to a trash burning electricity plant. But when the City of Biddeford decided to purchase and demolish that facility, the historic property next door had a second chance and the Szanton Company snapped it up.

The new owner had two goals: 1) to preserve a vital part of Biddeford’s industrial and cultural history; and 2) to provide desperately needed, high quality, new rental housing for diverse income groups.

This tax credit rehabilitation project encountered major hurdles including extensive rot in the carrying beams holding up the first level; the decision to demolish a 20th century connector building without damaging adjacent 19th-century buildings; and careful repair of the “scar tissue” on the face of the 1867 north wing. Crews also had to remove existing heating, plumbing and electrical systems, and replace all windows—including some mid-19th century openings that had been blocked for decades. They even had to remove and rebuild the gargantuan roof, and repoint all the exterior brickwork.

With much of the structural work complete, the builders created corridors inside of each major wing with new 1- and 2-bedroom apartments on either side. A fitness room, bicycle storage room, community room with kitchen, and other amenities were added. In the attic of the 1842 wing, a hauling wheel framed with heavy timbers — believed original to the building—was discovered, as well as an enormous chest of drawers once used to store spare machine parts. Both artifacts have been placed in the community room for display.

All 80 apartments inside the Saco-Lowell Shops were leased by the end of the first month of availability—an eye-opening demonstration of the pent-up demand for high-quality, affordable and market-rate new rental housing in Biddeford. An empty and forlorn structure facing demolition was transformed it into a state-of-the- art residence for 80 families, while also creating a facility that helps to interpret the industrial history central to Biddeford’s cultural identity.

State Historic Tax Credit financing was provided by CEI.
Story and video shared with permission by Maine Preservation.

Grand Trunk Railway Company Building (Gorham Savings Bank), Portland

State Historic Tax Credit Financing

For years it stood alone at the corner of India and Commercial streets—the all but forgotten Grand Trunk Railway Company Building, constructed in 1903. Once an outbuilding for the sprawling 1901 Grand Trunk Railroad Station, the three-story Company Building was all that remained after the station complex was thoughtlessly demolished beginning in 1961.

But decades later, there was good news for the fortunate survivor. In 2016, seeing an ideal location for a suite of corporate office, Gorham Savings Bank purchased the building and initiated a rehabilitation project using historic tax credits.

The building was constructed of red brick trimmed with granite and highly decorative brick details, with pressed copper enlivening the roof cornice. On the interior, historic finishes survived in many locations, including bead board wainscoting, molded window and door casings with corner blocks, and wood flooring likely associated with the original structure. Still, years of roof leaks likely associated with a third-story constructed in the 1930s had caused extensive structural damage and deterioration of plasterwork. Additionally, several original transom windows had been blocked, and nearly every other original window replaced without attention to historic character.

Gorham Savings and its many development partners, including Developers Collaborative and Archetype Architects, repainted all the exterior brick while unblocking all second-floor window openings. New wood windows were fabricated, along with exterior storms, once again providing stunning views of Portland’s waterfront. Inside, the team encountered structural inconsistencies that required replacement of key structural elements. As interior work progressed, 1980s suspended ceilings were removed and historic finishes like plaster walls and ceilings, bead board wainscoting and wood trim restored. Teams also removed the decorative copper cornice around the edge of the roof and completely reframed the structure. Now, with the original copper, back in place, the cornice should endure for another century.

Without Gorham’s intervention and dedication, this vestige of Maine’s transportation history could have deteriorated beyond repair. Instead, it has become the bank’s busy, new downtown Portland office—with 23 staffers working onsite. The first floor currently holds a retail area along with an interactive teller machine, allowing customers to video bank with tellers at other locations. The second floor is occupied by Gorham Savings’ marketing and business banking staff, while the third floor holds executive offices and a board room.

The main station may have been lost, but The Grand Trunk Railway Building endures, and has become yet another tax credit success story at the edge of the city’s Old Port.

State Historic Tax Credit financing was provided by CEI.
Story and video shared with permission by Maine Preservation.

46 Lisbon Street, Lewiston

State Historic Tax Credit Financing

The building at 46 Lisbon Street has been an iconic presence in downtown Lewiston since 1895. Best known as the home of Grant’s Clothing for nearly 60 years, the building was purchased by Terry’s Bridal in 1985—the same year 46 Lisbon was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

The owner, Kevin Morin, had two goals for the project. First was the desire to be an active participant in the ongoing resurgence of downtown Lewiston. The second was to rehabilitate a significant building in a way that respected the history of the space while also introducing elements of modernity. Floor plans were changed minimally. Doors, interior windows, and openings were preserved, and the original wood floors were sanded and refinished. Entirely new electrical, plumbing, heating, and communications systems were seamlessly integrated into the historic fabric.

Despite these large-scale enhancements, it was the attention to small details that lent this project its defining character. Gas powered brass light fixtures found in the basement were restored, and historic doors that had been removed were repurposed as sliding barn doors. Original wavy glass still present in the historic windows was retained; a large metal skylight was preserved and reopened. A huge wood and glass display box that had been sitting on the third floor unused for decades was repurposed as a dramatic chandelier above the third -floor kitchen. It’s also crucial to the integrity of the interiors that the owners maintained the intricate wood trim and doors, most of which were original and in excellent condition.

The project’s success is due to collaboration and a shared sense of mission among several partners. The City of Lewiston played an integral part in making the project a reality – both with financial support and by connecting the owners with other organizations. Coastal Enterprises, Inc. and Maine Preservation also played essential roles by providing guidance, historic insight, depth of experience, and in the case of CEI, financial investment. What was once a vacant, neglected and vulnerable building is now a fully rehabilitated, exquisitely designed and constructed landmark in downtown Lewiston. The project is a fine example of small-scale redevelopment, and of what can be achieved with collaboration and vision.

State Historic Tax Credit financing was provided by CEI.
Story and video shared with permission by Maine Preservation.

The Francis Hotel, Portland

State Historic Tax Credit Financing

The Mellen E. Bolster House on Congress Street in Portland was designed by Francis Fassett in 1881 and built as a single-family residence for a wealthy dry goods purveyor. Fassett was one of the premier local architects of his time, and is credited with many outstanding Victorian –era residences built in Portland after the Great Fire of 1866. His influence is instantly recognizable in the West End, where prized mansions designed by Fassett or his protégé, John Calvin Stevens remain standing. The Bolster House is one of the rare properties on which the two architects collaborated.

Hay & Peabody Funeral Home purchased the Bolster House in the early 1900s and installed the beautiful Seth Thomas clock still visible out front. In the ensuing years, the funeral home moved out and the once-grand mansion deteriorated. After standing vacant for over a decade, new owners Nate, Tony and Jake DeLois and Jeff Harder purchased it in 2015 and initiated plans to convert the single-family residence into a 15-room hotel and spa with a 49-seat restaurant. The hotel is now named The Francis, in honor of one of its designers, and the restaurant is called Bolster, Snow & Co.

Conditions in the building prior to development were less than ideal. The gas, electric and water services, along with modes of access and fire safety systems, all needed attention and updating. Windows were in poor condition and required major refurbishment, and some of the floors were unusable due to water damage and years of wear and tear. Luckily, some historic features were reasonably well-preserved; a good portion of the original wood flooring was covered in carpet and needed only refinishing. One of the first things guests now notice is the beautifully restored front doors’ stained-glass windows, and the wow factor continues in the lobby with simple furnishings that allow the fireplace mantle and inlaid floors to shine.

The scope of work included refurbishing all historic features, modernizing building systems, installing an ADA compliant elevator and carving out spaces for 15 hotel rooms and a modern restaurant. One of the biggest challenges involved plumbing: the building previously had 3 restrooms. Today it has 18.

On the exterior, a major concern was the deterioration of the rear brick wall and the roof of the former garage. The roof needed to be reinforced and replaced and the brick needed to be stabilized. Fortunately, a good portion of the wall could be dismantled and re-bricked. The revitalized garage became a ground floor suite for the hotel that became instantly popular among guests.

Long vacant, this treasure on Congress Street is now available to the entire community. Over twenty jobs have been created. The Bramhall Square neighborhood, which is experiencing a renaissance fuelled by entrepreneurs who’ve opened Tandem Bakery, Bramhall Pub, The Roma, and Trattoria, is even stronger. And Maine’s largest city can offer visitors a small, charming hotel that celebrates the region’s mercantile past.

State Historic Tax Credit financing was provided by CEI.
Story and video shared with permission by Maine Preservation.

Schlotterbeck & Foss Building, Portland

State Historic Tax Credit Financing

The Schlotterbeck & Foss Company was first incorporated in February 1892 as a premiere food and pharmaceuticals manufacturing facility in downtown Portland. The company’s 1927 home on Preble Street is significant as the only major Art Deco-style building designed by John Calvin Stevens and John Howard Stevens, and as one of the few surviving commercial buildings designed by the firm.

Structurally, the facility made use of then- new technology for supporting a large masonry building on filled land with composite wood and concrete pilings. It remained essentially unaltered from the time of its construction, but bore several examples of wear and tear. When ownership transferred to John Anton, Tom Watson and Brian Bush with a goal of rehabilitating the structure for residential use, Sutherland Conservation & Consulting prepared a nomination for inclusion on the National Register to make the building eligible for historic tax credits. Once funding was secured, rehabilitation processes with Goduti/Thomas Architects began, starting with masonry repairs to the cast stone and brick exterior, replacement of single-glazed windows with matching insulated windows, and installation of efficient modern mechanical systems.

The primary entrance on Preble Street was retained and restored for use by offices that now fill the first floor. The existing south entrance was expanded to provide access to both offices and residential units. Original stairs in the building were retained and a new, modern elevator installed. Residential units are located throughout the building and feature open plans with partial-height partition walls. Historic brick and concrete walls, floors, ceilings, and structural columns remain exposed, expressing the industrial character of the spaces.

The result of the project was the creation of 55 housing units in addition to first-floor office space. Taken together, they represent a vibrant new addition to Portland’s post-industrial Bayside neighborhood.

State Historic Tax Credit financing was provided by CEI.
Story and video shared with permission by Maine Preservation.

Plummer School, Falmouth

State Historic Tax Credit Financing

The Plummer School has stood as a landmark in the town of Falmouth since its construction in the early 1930s. The impressive two-and-a-half story Colonial Revival style high school, flanked by two-story wings to the east and west, was constructed in two phases c.1930-31 and 1935. Built primarily of brick with wooden clapboards at the gable ends, the roofline features an original, copper-domed clock tower, undoubtedly the building’s most iconic feature. Added to these features are finely crafted brick cornices and arched door heads. On the interior, the building retains many of the original classrooms, central corridors, and stairs.

Following nearly a decade of committee hearings, public meetings, and a town-wide referendum, an innovative agreement formalized a public-private partnership between the developer and Town of Falmouth to rehabilitate the building. While Falmouth is a historic town, there are few historic public buildings of note, so preserving the building and re-purposing it with a public mission were goals of central importance.

Devising a financially viable plan for the project was not easy. The first attempt to establish the building’s eligibility for Historic Tax Credits failed. A year-long proposal process to convert the building into a new Library also failed to garner the necessary support. However, with the guidance and expertise of project partners Sutherland Consulting, Developers Collaborative and OceanView at Falmouth, historic tax credit eligibility was gained in 2016 and work began on converting the historic school into one of very few senior communities designed for moderate income residents.

Today, the completed apartments wrap around a large common area in the center of the building — once site of the high school gym. The wood windows are restored originals now fitted with exterior storms. On the walls, much of the original plasterwork survives and a historic chair rail was replicated for installation throughout the building. Workers removed contemporary carpeting as well as linoleum and layers of various adhesives, exposing the original hardwood floors, which were sanded and finished. Outside, they scraped and painted the clock tower and dentil molding, and carefully repaired the school’s impressive slate roof.

The impact of Plummer School’s rehabilitation and re-use has been felt throughout the community of Falmouth. Besides providing much-needed senior housing, the revitalization of this space highlights the perseverance of a local community in protecting and celebrating one of the towns prized historic public buildings.

State Historic Tax Credit financing was provided by CEI.
Story and video shared with permission by Maine Preservation.

Center for Maine Contemporary Art

Financing the Construction of a Creative Economy

Since it re-opened in its new home, the Center for Maine Contemporary Art (CMCA) in Rockland, Maine, has more than quadrupled attendance from an average 9,000 to nearly 40,000 visitors. That astounding growth is illustrative of a surging interest in Maine’s contemporary art scene, and is transforming the economy of this coastal fishing community. Cooperation among public and private sectors help make Rockland a robust tourist destination, and helped to strengthen a rural region.

Center for Maine Contemporary Art, Rockland, Maine (photo by Dave Clough)

To meet demand and evolve with the times, CMCA, a 64-year resident of a former firehouse in nearby Rockport, needed to invest in its future. Design and building efforts began in 2013 for a unique modern facility by internationally recognized architect Toshiko Mori, which was expected to help the museum broaden its audience and deepen its roots within the heart of the mid-coast. “CMCA wants to be a catalyst for Maine’s future, forward-looking and innovative,” said Suzette McAvoy, executive director of CMCA. “We want to be one of the partners in creating an economically diverse and vital community where young people want to live and work.”

The initial funding for the ambitious and visionary new home came in the form of grants and donations, but those were insufficient to allow CMCA to refinance an existing loan and cover construction costs. CEI stepped in to bridge the gap between fundraising efforts, and provide the kind of financial flexibility that CMCA needed in order to grow.

“The arts are an extremely valuable part of the Maine brand and CMCA combined with other local arts related businesses in Rockland are a huge economic draw to the area, creating jobs and economic prosperity as well as adding vitality to the region,” said Cole Palmer, CEI Loan and Investment Officer.

A creative financing solution bought CMCA time to pay down the CEI loan.

“Our working relationship with CEI has only been extremely positive, cordial, and supportive. We’re very grateful to CEI for recognizing the importance of arts in the community and how CMCA can be a part of that,” said Suzette.

CMCA’s deeply supportive Board of Directors pushed the project forward, with additional financing from multiple local institutions, a capital campaign, and overall community support.

CEI has had a multi-decade presence supporting a variety of businesses in mid-coast Maine, including Rockland’s legacy art institutions. The world-renown Farnsworth Art Museum, home to the legendary Wyeth family collection has a significant presence in the small city since 1948. It faced capital refurbishment needs that could not be paid for with a restricted endowment. Significant structural renovations needed to protect dozens of famous paintings by three generations of Wyeths were financed by CEI Capital Management. This community investment also allowed the Farnsworth to lower the overall cost of capital for the construction.

Center for Maine Contemporary Art, Rockland, Maine (photo by J. Laurence)

Rockland has grown its reputation as Maine’s art destination. With exhibitions and events that complement but don’t overlap, these arts facilities have proven to be mutually beneficial to one another, drawing other artists, programs, and visitors from all over Maine and New England, exponentially increasing the economic impact of arts in the Rockland community.

The prosperity from the creative economy is being shared in the area. The tourist economy there has steadily grown with the creative one. Galleries, shops, and award-winning restaurants pepper Main Street in Rockland. Hotels, bed and breakfasts, and inns report full occupancy in busy summer and fall months. Most recently, Amtrak’s Downeaster train service to Boston has announced an expanded route along the coast to Rockland.

CMCA and The Farnsworth have become essential for making art an accessible and vital part of contemporary life. Through their progressive, forward-looking programming and exhibits of larger-scale installations, both are giving back, often in partnerships with other community organizations including local schools. “The arts are not just for the elite but really truly are of impact and value to the whole community and everyone in Maine,” said Suzette.

Pemaquid Mussel Farms

Growing Maine's Mussel Industry

Growing a mussel business is no quick work. It takes 18 months for seeded mussel ropes to produce a commercially viable harvest. Mussels are typically farmed on floating rafts which are subject to wind and waves which can further slow growth by up to several months. Crop losses from storm waves and drift ice are also common, especially in the cold and windy Gulf of Maine.

New submersible mussel raft (Mark II No. 1) built by Undine Marine for Pemaquid Mussel Farms and supported by the Maine Department of Agriculture after construction in September, 2017. (photo: Carter Newell)

Perhaps no one is better suited to research, design and introduce new farming methods than a leading aquaculturist. For years, Carter Newell, founder and managing member of Pemaquid Mussel Farms, has pondered these challenges on and off the ocean. His big idea: a patented submersible raft that makes many of the issues associated with traditional floating rafts irrelevant.

Knowing that CEI supports the growth of shellfish farming in coastal Maine, Newell reached out to a business advisor at CEI’s Small Business Development Center in Wiscasset for help in developing his business plan. “The CEI business counseling was essential in putting my ideas and projections together in a plan that would be the basis for my business development,” he said.

As the research and development of the technology progressed, Newell knew he would need significant financing to push the project forward. Ultimately, a myriad of supporters and lenders including CEI contributed to the financing of Newell’s innovative model.

As a mission-driven investor for over 40 years, CEI aims to help support the creation of good jobs, environmentally-sustainable business, and shared prosperity. Pemaquid combines all of these goals with its strategic business plan.

Pemaquid has four sea farms which employ six part-time employees. Newell hopes to soon transition to nine full-time jobs with benefits. According to Newell, for every $1 million in mussels grown, $2.5 million is generated in economic activity for the region.

“One of the keys to successful mussel farming is the ability to produce a high volume of product. Pemaquid is poised to deliver that volume by increasing their production with their new submersible raft design,” said Hugh Cowperthwaite, director of CEI’s Fisheries program. “Pemaquid Mussel Farms has the capacity (knowledge and staff) and resources (equipment, lease sites) to significantly grow the Maine mussel industry.”

Newell explained, “The financing became the first component of a major capital campaign to grow my business five-fold. The patented submersible mussel raft system developed with funding from USDA and Maine Technology Institute (MTI), is the basis of our business expansion activities supported by CEI,” said Newell. “If we can prove the economic viability of a nine-raft, 800,000 pound-a-year mussel farm, miles from shore in semi-exposed bays, the business model can be replicated 10-fold or more along Maine’s coast to take advantage of a $10 million a year projected demand for Maine raft-grown mussels.”

For Newell, environmental sustainability is critical in how he farms mussels. Natural local stocks are used for seed and grown in coastal waters, rafts are built using Maine-sourced goods, and ultimately, mussels are sold to Maine restaurants, wholesalers and farmer’s markets. When mussels are reseeded on the farms, Pemaquid Mussel Farms uses biodegradable materials and reuses culture ropes. A portion of business profits supports the Fair Food Network. In addition to farming practices, Newell has been helping train commercial fishermen in aquaculture for more than two decades, in order to help them diversify their year-round income streams. He provides mentoring for start-up companies, and engages in research and development in applied coastal oceanography, engineering, and innovative equipment development.