Brick by Brick

On a wet and windy summer day three years ago, Mr. Cookie and I were riding our bikes through Portland, ME.  However, carrying camping gear and clothes through the rain and wind proved to be more tiring than our out of shape bodies were ready for.  Tired and dejected (and wet!), Mr. Cookie mentioned that he’d seen a sign for flatbread pizza a ways back and maybe we should head back and get some lunch.  Never one to argue with food, we did just that.

We walked in (Mr. Cookie would take this time to tell you all about how I tried to convince him that we should really go into the Irish pub next door instead) to a cheery, warm place with hand made art, wood hewn tables, and the friendliest staff I’ve ever run into.  But the part that drew our attention immediately was the clay oven holding court in one corner.  Perhaps the hostess saw how wet we were; perhaps she noticed the particularly rosy hue of our cheeks, but bless her heart she sat us down right near that oven.  We got to see our food cook while warming up.  The food was amazing.  The waitress was laid back and friendly.  The guy at the oven was outgoing and chatted with some children who came over to watch.  Did I mention the food?

So began a love affair with the Flatbread Company.  We soon discovered that Portland was not the only location.  While the food is a main draw (and believe me, it is a MAIN draw), we have since learned many other reasons to adore this company.  Last year, Mr. Cookie and his PMC team had a fundraising event at the restaurant in Bedford.  Because staying local, staying healthy, and staying completely homemade is not enough for them, Flatbread donates part of the proceeds from every pizza it sells on Tuesday nights to local charities.  All you have to do is meet with the manager, discuss your charity, bring in paperwork for said charity, and talk about how you plan to recruit people to come in.  Then, they allow you to make a sign to hang in the restaurant for the week preceding your event to draw interest.  Here’s the one I made for Mr. Cookie’s event last year:

Needless to say, we were ecstatic when we found out one was going in right near us!!  This is not your average chain.  They stick to their mission and involve the community in all they do.  That includes using local, organic food (even their nitrate free meats are local and their soda comes from a Maine company).  It includes giving back to their communities.  It also includes having community volunteers assist in the building of the all important ovens.  Today, Mr. Cookie and I headed down to their new location to volunteer our help to build the new ovens.  We are now expert brick makers.  John Meehan, one of the owners (and a straight up nice guy), taught me how to mix the Boston Blue Clay with sand, ash, and hay to make the bricks that create the shell of the oven.  Here we are in front of a finished oven.  You can tell by his clothes he was really involved in the process, which was awesome! You can’t see it from this picture, but my bottom half was DIRTY!!

They are putting in two equally sized ovens to this location (I imagine they realize what a HUGE take-out business they are going to have).  Here is Jay Gould, the other owner, in front of the second (incomplete) oven.

He was in charge of taking the just formed bricks and laying them on the wooden frame.  The first time they set a fire in the ovens, the inner framework will just burn up and our clay will remain.  Of course, it will need to dry before that can happen!

There was a huge turnout from the community and the owners and staff greeted us wholeheartedly.  With a portable clay oven outside, they were firing flatbreads all morning.  There was also a caricature artist there, making a mural that will eventually hang in the finished restaurant.  It was a really great event and just gives us one more reason to adore this restaurant.  Can you find us?


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2 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    sister cookie said,

    Found you guys!!! Love Mr. Cookie’s ears!!

  2. 2

    Vati Cookie said,

    Live long and prosper!


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