PORTLAND, Maine — Before it became a world-class foodie destination and engine of the city’s economic fortunes, Portland’s restaurant scene looked like a lot of fun.
That’s how old-school Portlander Abraham Schechter remembers it. The city library’s archivist, Schechter recently assembled a trove of historic menus and scenes from 1980s Portland restaurants for public viewing in the library’s digital collection.
Containing menus from 67 restaurants, bars and cafes, the new archive traces Portland’s nationally recognized food scene to its gritty, artsy origins.
Schechter found the menus years ago buried in a forgotten box in a storage room. It took the pandemic, which shuttered the library to the public, to give him the time to digitize the collection.
“I have always wanted to do what I just finished,” Schechter said of the project.
Many of the menus are handwritten or custom-printed by local artists and designers, allowing for flourishes of personality,