By Bridget M. Burns / York County Coast Star Contributor
KENNEBUNK, MAINE — After a successful first summer in Kennebunk, Ben Alexander, founder and owner of Maine Mead Works, is looking forward to becoming more involved in the local community. The company’s new tasting room, located in the space formerly occupied by Atlantic Pizza, features flavors of both HoneyMaker and Ram Island mead varieties, gluten-free alternatives to the town’s flagship beer next door.
“We’ve always wanted to have a second tasting room and we had looked at different areas. Kennebunk was always kind of out there, and then with the opportunity to come into a place right next to a brewery that’s been here for a long time, we felt the time was right,” Alexander says.
Maine Mead Works was founded in 2007 with its first tasting room opening on Anderson Street in Portland in 2008. In 2010, the company moved to Washington Avenue where a larger footprint allowed them to have a dedicated tasting room, with production out back. In that location, Alexander has come to appreciate how the right neighbors can drive additional visitor volume.
“Oxbow [beer] has opened up next door to us on the right, and now we have a distillery on the left. So we definitely feel the benefits of the co-locating of craft beverages,” Alexander says of the Portland location.
While Maine Mead Works had no previous relationship with Shipyard Brewing Company as a brand, Alexander does know founder Fred Forsley through the craft beverage world, and recognized the full breadth of opportunity when he learned of the open Kennebunk retail space through mutual friends.
“Fred did with beer what we’re trying to do with mead, now. But he did it back in the 90s, so having Fred as somebody to talk to and bounce ideas off of is great,” Alexander says.
The actual renovation from pizza parlor to tasting room happened quickly. Maine Mead Works signed the Kennebunk lease at the end of May, and opened its doors July 1.
“We did it in a month,” Alexander says. “We were very simple about the build out process and making sure it was true to how we wanted to represent our brand. At the same time, we didn’t want to over engineer something when we weren’t sure how we were going to fit into the community. So the way I look at it is baby steps. We decided if it was a really big hit this summer, and it’s been great, that we can make some changes and upgrades during the winter hours.”
Full Story: Maine Mead Works celebrates success in Kennebunk
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