Brewer News

Brewer-Based Natural Foods Grocer Officially Opens Tuesday

Posted April 07, 2015, at 12:40 p.m. Last modified April 07, 2015, at 1:34 p.m. BREWER, Maine — A much-anticipated natural foods grocery store opened its doors to locavore-minded shoppers Tuesday in Brewer.

Tiller & Rye soft-opened a week ago to test store systems, allowing shoppers a sneak preview. They held an official grand opening Tuesday.

“We’ve been overwhelmed by the amazing response from the community and are so grateful for all the support,” one of the owners, Sarah Morneault, said.

Morneault and Lindsey Levesque, former co-workers at Sea Dog Brewing Co. in Bangor, are behind the “locally sourced — wherever possible” store at 20 S. Main St. in Brewer.

Tiller & Rye offers “humanely raised” meat, fresh produce and other fare one would expect to find at a grocer. The foods will be “free from harmful additives,” and there will be options for people with dietary restrictions, including gluten-free varieties and meat and dairy alternatives. The store also will stock its shelves with artisanal cheeses, bulk spices and grains, wine and craft beer.

The store will operate in part as a sort of year-round farmers market, relying on the area’s larger farms to keep a steady flow of the most popular goods, while smaller-scale farms also will have the chance to put their products on shelves.

Tiller & Rye also has a deli and juice bar, featuring drinks such as the Beetnik, with beet, apple, carrot and ginger juice, and the Spring Fling, with strawberry, kale, carrot, apple, banana and coconut water smoothie.

Work began in January on the 9,500-square-foot site, which formerly was a Brooks Pharmacy and more recently a furniture store. Originally slated for a February opening, water problems delayed the opening of the doors for more than a month.

“The winter killed us because the previous winter the pipes had frozen and the HVAC and sprinkler system had to be replaced,” Morneault said Monday. Once those systems were back online in early March, the owners learned the toilets had frozen as well and more pipes had to be repaired. The rough winter also hindered renovation efforts.

The store’s opening brings together a year’s work. The pair began seeking out a location and obtained a $50,000 grant from the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development last spring.

Tiller & Rye is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays.

By Nick McCrea, BDN Staff