Kittery’s Lil’s Cafe plans expansion

Lil’s Cafe plans expansion

Lil’s Cafe is expanding into the former River Run space in downtown Kittery, Maine, and is celebrating its one year anniversary this weekend. Ioanna Raptis/Seacoastonline

By Jesse Scardina 

KITTERY, Maine — On the same day as celebrating one year in the Foreside, Lil’s Cafe announced it plans to expand into the space next door, which used to house RiverRun Bookstore.

The announcement was apparent to anyone who visited the quaint, popular cafe over the weekend, as simple tables and paintings and Thanksgiving pie samples took up the space once occupied by books. While the space was open for the weekend, management is still deciding exactly how the expansion will look and what it will include, with those changes to be finalized and the space open by early 2015.

“We thought RiverRun would be here, but that didn’t work out,” said Lil’s owner Michael Landgarten. “We loved that marriage of businesses. There were other interests, but the truth is we didn’t want to see the opportunity go away.”

Landgarten, who is co-owner of the Wallingford Square building and also owns Bob’s Clam Hut and Robert’s Maine Grill, said that the opportunity to expand and the chance to add more inside seating as the weather cools was too good to pass up, even if there was a worry about growing too fast too soon.

“On one hand, we didn’t necessarily feel ready,” he said. “We’re still trying to figure out our initial space. We’re a young business, but we had to put our foot in there. We’re going to go slow.”

Landgarten along with manager Alexis Paquette and other associates will now begin mapping out what the expansion will include. Landgarten said it’s highly unlikely the space will look as it currently does, while Paquette said that in addition to more seating and space, one side of the cafe could be more coffee-based while the other side is more food-based. Entertainment, expanded hours and an after-dinner menu are all potential topics of conversation.

“We know we’re going to do something different with it, we just don’t know what,” Paquette said. “People are excited because they want to come in and be able to get a seat.”

Lil’s opened Nov. 14, 2013, and has steadily gained in popularity, which Landgarten admitted was a surprise, while Paquette knew the owner’s vision was clear on what this space should be.

“When Michael wants to do something, he plans it out meticulously and does it well,” Paquette said, adding that if there is a surprise it’s the community’s embrace of the cafe. “I am surprised for Kittery, I think it’s impressive that so many people seem impressed and some come over from Portsmouth. We hit the one-year mark and we’re expanding. That’s exciting.”


As published in the Portsmouth Herald.