April 22, 2019
A Tale of Two Restaurants
By Cameron Potts, Vice President of Public Relations, Deluxe
Biddeford, Maine and Washington, North Carolina are separated by roughly 800 miles, yet both are defined by the Atlantic Ocean and river tributaries that meander near these communities.
Both towns have a similar vibe, the types of places you escape to if you have lived in large metropolises. Many of the people in each town say they found these communities because they wanted a slower pace, a different way of life. And that they fell in love with the people and the cultures.
On our travels across the country during our Small Business Revolution Top 10 town trip, we came across two very different restaurants that have remarkably similar back stories.
Biscuits & Company in Biddeford is a go-to hangout in downtown, one of those cozy, remarkable finds that blows you away with the food. On our tour, chef Erik Johannes was making cinnamon rolls and raspberry rolls, the latter something he’d never tried before but were completely mesmerizing.
Spreading homemade raspberry jam across fresh dough, he rolled the concoction up into roll form and baked them to gooey perfection. Owner Stacy Cooper marveled at her chef’s imagination, but also her good fortune in starting this business without a background in food.
“I started here four years ago and did all the cooking myself for the first two years,” Cooper said. “I chose Biddeford because there is so much going on here. You can see a real gathering and excitement here.”
Cooper explained that Biddeford had been a family vacation spot for years, so when she decided to move to Maine for a quieter life, this was the community she wanted. Once there, she decided to go into business, entering a local start-up competition that helped get her a forgivable loan to open Biscuits & Company.
She found a location she loved, mostly because of the big, expansive windows, and then built out the bakery to her specification. As Cooper’s motto says, “we believe any time is a good time for breakfast.” From biscuits to scones and rolls, their coffee and more, they are definitely a destination in Biddeford.
Cooper built out Biscuits & Company to what she dreamed and envisioned and loves being a small business owner. Roughly 800 miles south sits Backwater Jack’s Tiki Bar and Grill in Washington, North Carolina, with a similar story.
Owned by Cathy Bell and Laura Scoble, Backwater has a distinctive “Jimmy Buffett” type feel throughout. What started as a small two-bedroom, one bath cottage has been slowly built out over the last 14 years to include indoor and outdoor seating, three bars and a stage for live music.
“This place is all about the river for us,” Bell said. We get tons of boats in the summer. They dock, people come in, get a burger and a beer and have a good time. It gets so crowded. We really call it the fun zone here.”
With live music three times a week, Bell and Scoble don’t sell food, they sell an attitude. “We are so not fancy,” Scoble said. “The food we serve is in a basket. And we love being out here by ourselves.”
Backwater Jacks is located on Main Street in Washington, but on the very end, next to the river. They created a place where people just want to hang out, and they have invited their friends to move down too. Bell and Scoble love how progressive a community Washington is and how, despite the busy summer seasons, quiet and laid back of a community it is.
While their vibe is casual and laid-back, they also strive to sell what is local, including oysters, shrimp and other seafood fare. “We wanted to make this a place where people just hang out,” Bell said.
As time goes on, and they expand a little more here and there, Backwater Jacks is the place where people love to hang out, just as Bell and Scoble wanted.
Two completely different styles of restaurants in two completely different towns. Yet the owners of Biscuits and Company and Backwater are doing exactly what they love, in different ways.