2015-07-10 / Community

SoPo man expands local restaurant scene

By Ben Meiklejohn
Staff Writer

OLD ORCHARD BEACH – A local restaurateur has opened his second restaurant in town in less than two years.

Kevin McAllister of South Portland, who opened Butcher Burger at 8 West Grand Ave. last year, opened The Shack down the street last month. The Shack, at 27 West Grand Ave. is located in the space formerly occupied by Hoss & Mary’s Tasty Grub. McAllister previously owned Tailgate Bar and Grill in Gray from 2006 to 2008, and had worked as the front manager at Nosh restaurant in Portland for several years.

McAllister said as soon as he heard that the owners of Hoss & Mary’s Tasty Grub weren’t renewing their lease and were moving to Key West, he jumped at the opportunity and contacted the property owner to negotiate a lease. The Shack is a little more of what he’s used to, McAllister said, coming from a front-of-the-house background in the restaurant industry, because it serves alcohol, unlike Butcher Burger.

“The Butcher Burger focused on burgers – our burgers with our patties that we make in-house. We make two chicken burgers, falafel burgers, and make everything inhouse, but it’s built to be pretty fast as well,” McAllister said.

“At The Shack, we do boozy shakes, have the crafty end of beers, three different lobster rolls, including a crispy lobster roll. Chris has done some really amazing things over there.”

Chris Kauchak, who is manager and chef of The Shack, said he uses as many locally sourced ingredients as possible, including local hand-picked lobster, and local meats and produce. He also tries to offer a menu accessible to everybody, including vegans and people with gluten-free dietary needs.

“We try to make accommodations for everyone,” Kauchak said. “We try to use gluten-free breading with rice flour, like with our fresh whole-bellied fried clams … There’s a lot of great places to go downtown and we want to be one of them.”

McAllister said the best thing he did with The Shack was to convert a deck that had previously been connected to an apartment upstairs into deck seating for the restaurant. After getting design approved by the town and a structural engineer, McAllister had a deck built that could seat 28 to 32 people with a view of the ocean.

“It’s a great location. I think I got lucky,” McAllister said.

Kauchak said The Shack has a total capacity for about 70 seats and that the spot by the ocean is a popular location for tourists.

Both of McAllister’s restaurants share the common practice of making as much food as possible from scratch. McAllister said Butcher Burger’s triple-cooked fries can take three days to prepare.

At The Shack, McAllister said, Kauchak “has hand-cut every single salt and vinegar waffle chip we’ve ever made.”

Barbra Domijan, of Lyman, returned to The Shack after being impressed during her first visit.

“I couldn’t stop asking my daughter for bites of her French toast sticks – they were like little churros,” she said. “When we’d gone for lunch she had fish tacos and I had a turkey pesto – equally as impressed with lunch as we’d been with breakfast.”

McAllister said The Shack also serves breakfast from Thursday to Sunday. Kauchak said they hope The Shack will remain open from Mother’s Day until at least October.

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