The College is set to open the Front & Main restaurant at the Lockwood Hotel on March 18. The Lockwood, which is currently closed to the public and serving as student housing, is set to open to the public in late summer. In an email interview, The Colby Echo spoke with Jordan Rowan, the General Manager of the Lockwood Hotel, about the opening of Front & Main.
Rowan believes that the restaurant will serve as an important gathering spot for Waterville residents. The layout of Front & Main and its focus on the local food scene will enable the restaurant to foster a sense of community.
“First and foremost, Front & Main is intended to be a meeting place for our community, with a strong emphasis on communal gathering spaces inside and out. We aim to build on the growing food scene in Waterville, and ultimately to elevate it, with a strong emphasis on local ingredients that celebrate the bounty available to us in central Maine,” Rowan said.
According to Rowan, the atmosphere of Front & Main will be dynamic and appropriate for many different types of gatherings and events.
“Our atmosphere is luxurious yet fun, elegant yet relaxed—perfect for every event, from a special dinner to a quick burger and beer at the bar,” Rowan said.
“Modern decor and contemporary artwork throughout the restaurant and lounge are balanced with natural wood and stone elements to create a warm, inviting setting for our guests.”
Front & Main will serve dinner from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m., Sunday through Thursday, and 5 p.m. until 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. The restaurant will also serve weekend brunch from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
With Executive Chef Jesse Souza and Director of Food and Beverage John Phillips-Sandy working on the restaurant’s meals and menu, Front & Main will have excellent food for all tastes.
“Front & Main will serve a variety of contemporary American cuisine, from elevated takes on classics to some really unique dishes that may be new to some of our guests,” Rowan said. “I hope that everyone will enjoy our food!”
Rowan also noted a few possible specialties for the restaurant.
“Early contenders to become specialties for us include our Pork & Beans, featuring heritage pork belly, bourbon applesauce, steamed brown bread, red cabbage and maple baked beans; and our Lobster Bucatini, featuring uni, shiitake mushrooms, charred scallion, uni cream sauce, and roasted garlic & chili. Both dishes are simply delicious,” Rowan said.
While the rate of COVID-19 transmission has decreased throughout Maine, Rowan acknowledged the importance of remaining diligent. With its “Clean Dining Promise,” Front & Main will create a safe environment for its staff and guests.
“Our Clean Dining Promise is our pledge to open and operate our restaurant safely, for both our guests and our employees. Steps we are taking include daily temperature and symptom checks for employees, disposable single-use menus and QR codes, hand sanitizer stations throughout the restaurant, plexiglass barriers at the bar, and more efforts to ensure we are opening as safely as possible. Furthermore, all guests will be entering from Main St., and the public spaces on the first floor are contained within a separate HVAC system from the hotel rooms upstairs.
For students, Front & Main is working with Easy Eats to start an on-campus delivery program. The restaurant will also implement a curb-side pick-up option.
Rowan believes that Front & Main, along with the Lockwood Hotel, will become important centerpieces of downtown Waterville.
“There is a palpable energy and excitement around the changes downtown, and I see Front & Main being the leading edge of Waterville’s revitalization. Also, our Executive Chef, Jesse Souza, is a Bangor-native that recently returned to Maine, and our Director of Food & Beverage, John Phillips-Sandy, was born and raised right here in Waterville—so I am equally excited about the quality job opportunities” Rowan said.
Students living in the Lockwood are excited about having a way to get food in their building. Lockwood residents have been frustrated by their distance from on-campus dining halls and their lack of a kitchen like their counterparts in the Alfond Commons.
Thea Reddin `22, who lives in the hotel, said she hopes the restaurant opening will liven things up in the building.
“I like living in a little bit of hustle and bustle and I think it’ll add a little bit of activity and interesting people in the Lockwood and in my life. And, I’m also excited about the prospect of going to a restaurant at least once this year and just seeing what type of food it is and just having something new on Main Street,” she told The Colby Echo.
Aidan Sweeney `22 also lives in the building and agreed, but expressed concerns about how expensive Front & Main will be: “I think it would be nice to get food without leaving the hotel, but I am also wondering if it will be a pricey place or not. Knowing Colby, it feels like it might be very expensive.”
Lockwood resident Lauren Oliver `22 agreed. While having a way to get food excites her, “they definitely aren’t making it [the restaurant] for students, so I imagine it won’t be cheap and might be kind [of] fancy.”
The Lockwood Hotel and Front & Main are part of a trend of College investment in the surrounding community in the past few years. The Lockwood holds fifty-three rooms and suites, meeting rooms, fitness facilities, and a full-service bar and restaurant. The College hopes that the large hotel will redefine the atmosphere of downtown Waterville.
Additionally, through the construction of the Arts Collaborative, which will open later in 2021, the College hopes to make Waterville a hub for artists across Maine.
The College also plans to invest $11.2 million into a series of road and sidewalk infrastructure projects over the next year. This investment will help the city government change traffic patterns on Main Street and improve the efficiency of many intersections.
~Matt Rocha `23