Vacationland’s perfect labor storm

Good evening from the BDN Portland office on Congress Street. Tonight trouble is brewing in the hospitality industry; a new food truck fleet is out; and Trump may give the Maine’s national monument another look.

What we’re talking about

A labor crisis in the vacation industry — As the summer of 2017 approaches, a perfect storm for the seasonal hospitality industry is gathering over Vacationland. BDN Portland’s Kathleen Pierce reports:

Maine is experiencing record low unemployment rates. At the same time, a hospitality boom is ushering in new hotels and restaurants all along the coast. A change in the rules for hiring foreign seasonal workers through H-2B visa program has prevented many hoteliers from rehiring skilled help from places such as Jamaica this summer.

Other factors in gentrifying cities such as Portland is the lack of affordable housing, along with last year’s cook shortage that left restuarants scrambling before Memorial Day, which has returned with a vengeance.

“I’ve been here 22 years and it’s the tightest labor market I’ve ever seen,” said one innkeeper.

North Woods monument may be under review — President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday authorizing a review of national monuments that might include Maine’s, BDN’s Nick Sambides Jr. reports. The order covers national monument designations since 1996 that are 100,000 acres. The Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument monument is only 87,563 acres, but the order also allows for review of a monument if it is determined that its “designation or expansion was made without adequate public outreach and coordination with relevant stakeholders.” Trump signed the order in the company of Gov. Paul LePage, who has been lobbying for the federal government to reconsider the Maine monument. I guess we’ll see.

Tandem Coffee Roasters rolls out a coffee truck — Yesterday, during Coffee with Cooks (the Facebook Live series where a chef cuts loose over caffeine) we learned that everyone’s favorite East Bayside roaster is launching a coffee truck next month. The Tandem Coffee truck rolls out May 5. It will be Brunswick bound for farmers markets and available for events in Greater Portland. Now ordering a skinny, no whip, latte on wheels is no longer a punchline. — Kathleen Pierce

New mashed potato food truck in Portland  — If you like mashed potatoes (and who doesn’t?), this one’s for you. A Falmouth woman had the bright idea of serving meals layered into mashed potatoes for your portable dining pleasure. Mashed in Maine, The Forecaster’s Kate Irish Collins reports, has been spied on the Eastern Prom and will be serving up all kinds of meals disguised in local spuds. Needhams? Yes. Buffalo Chicken? You bet. Good luck to her. — Kathleen Pierce

Doctor gets two years in prison — Dr. Joel Sabean, of Falmouth, was sentenced Wednesday to spend two years in prison and pay a $5,000 fine for illegal drug distribution, tax evasion and health care fraud. The 69-year-old doctor sent more than $2.3 million to a relative in Florida, and had her send him fake medical bills so he could write off about $3 million in expenses on his tax returns, according to court records.

Celebrate City Hall at its cherry-est — Mow down on Japanese food truck fare and listen to the talking Taiko drums while reveling in the splendor of the cherry blossoms outside City Hall on Friday. Friends of Shinagawa, Portland’s sister city in Japan, is in charge of the to-do from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. The event was supposed to happen last week, but was rained out. — Troy R. Bennett

Rain ruins Sea Dogs baseball again tonight — For the second night in a row, the hometown nine have been sunk by rain. The game against the Hartford Yard Goats will be made-up as a doubleheader on Friday, July 21 at 6 p.m. — Troy R. Bennett  

Tweet of the day

From WCSH meteorologist Keith Carson:

The Big Idea

A woman’s work — The three positions Maine projects will add the most jobs through 2024 are all filled predominantly by women, BDN’s Rosie Hughes reports.

Got any interesting story ideas, suggestions or links to share? Email Jake Bleiberg at, or tweet @JZBleiberg.

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