January 25 • 2012
After sampling some of Frontier’s yummy eats at a recent business event, we decided to dig a little deeper and see what this unique venue- and now caterer- has to offer area brides and grooms, too. Owner Micheal Gilroy was lovely enough to share a little insight with us and we’re excited to see where his passion takes Frontier next. Thanks, Gil!
L&L: Tell us a little about you the history of Frontier.
Gil: Frontier is a vision inspired by my work as an expedition leader around the world. My passion for connecting people with experiences that provoke a sense of discovery led to the creation of a special kind of meeting place reminiscent of a traveler’s crossroads – where stories, ideas and culture interact in a rich and dynamic environment. Frontier is a destination where people gather to enjoy and explore food, film, music and art inspired by the world.
L&L: What types of events do you typically host at your space in Fort Andross?
Gil: Frontier is an ideal and festive setting for private events such as rehearsal dinners, weddings, birthday parties, film screenings, holiday parties, concerts and other special occasions. Our space can also easily transform to meet the needs of business meetings, conferences, fundraisers and community events.
Frontier is located in Fort Andross, an historic mill situated on the Androscoggin River in downtown Brunswick. Our space has been thoroughly restored using reclaimed materials, fixtures and equipment, while preserving the original features and textures of the old mill. Frontier offers a dynamic atmosphere and embraces a catering philosophy that celebrates fresh ingredients, world flavors and seasonal specialties.
L&L: What is your availability for private events? How far out do couples need to book, and how many people does the space hold?
Gil: Frontier is available for private events all year (subject to availability). We recommend couples secure a date as far in advance as possible to insure their preferred date. Our space can accommodate up to 200 people depending upon the type of event and required configuration, however we are best suited for events up to 175 people.
L&L: What are some of the more memorable events people have planned there?
Gil: Our most memorable events would have to be our weddings. Because of the uniqueness of our space we often get couples looking for something “different.” And different often translates into something a little less traditional and more inventive.
One memorable wedding was a fun couple from California who set up a few computers in our theater along side a basket of random costumes. Guests were invited throughout the night to throw on something fun and then stream whatever they fancied live to all their friends back in CA who couldn’t make the wedding. They became in effect, virtual guests. We thought this was an innovative way to increase your guest count without actually increasing your attendance.
Our New Year’s Eve weddings have also been extremely memorable. Choosing a New Year’s Eve wedding is like a party on top of a party. So the way we see it, you’re starting off a marriage with Double Happiness.
L&L: Tell us a bit about your menu. Where do you get inspiration for your dishes? Does your menu change regularly?
Gil: As of January 2012 our menu is now a creation of our new full kitchen. In the past we only had a small prep kitchen, so we’re now able to be far more creative and innovative with our dishes. Our mission at Frontier is to connect you to the world, so whenever possible we like to give our menu options a little global influence. Comfort fare with a worldly twist.
Our main menu changes seasonally. And during a given season we offer daily soup specials as well as lunch, dessert and weekend dinner specials. Whenever possible we work directly with local farms and vendors.
L&L: I noticed you have a lot of vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options on your menu. We’re happy to see this variety supporting different diets. Are you seeing this part of your menu gaining traction?
Gil: More and more of our community has been requesting vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options. In building our kitchen and designing a new menu we made intentional choices that would increase our capability of offering these options.
It’s still a little early to determine the traction on these particular dishes. But for those customers who have restrictive diets, this part of our menu is critical to providing multiple options and a full experience. We’re looking forward to feedback from this part of our community, so we may start expanding this section of our menu. For those reading – the Vegetarian Reuben is returning!
L&L: You also offer a catering service. Tell us a bit about your catering menu. What size events are you accustomed to catering for, and how far are you willing to travel for an event?
Gil: This is one of the most exciting growth areas for Frontier. While we’ve always offered on-site catering services (although limited due to our prep kitchen), it’s only now with the facilities of a full kitchen that we’re able to expand our offerings on-site, as well as offering catering services off-site.
The focus of our catering is to continue our on-site events, as well as service off-site events within a 25-mile radius of Brunswick.
L&L: You seem to be expanding constantly. It’s very exciting. What are your future goals for Frontier?
Gil: As much as Frontier is a reclaimed space – it is very much an evolving, creative canvas. Since we opened five year ago, we’ve been constantly evolving our services to meet the requests of our community. Our café has transitioned from a simple prep kitchen with counter service to a full kitchen with full table service. Our events have evolved from luncheon meetings to weddings; our catering services have evolved from a platter of sandwiches to a full course reception and our programming has evolved from a film screening to a weekend festival.
We admittedly have an appetite for creativity and innovation, which keeps us pushing the boundary around what’s possible. To this end, we are now focusing on expanding our arts, cultural and educational programming through the development of a place-based hub for creativity and social innovation. Stay tuned…
L&L: When you are not working, what do you most enjoy doing?
Gil: Any discretionary time I’m afforded will be spent with my family – my wife and two daughters. This often means dropping into imaginary worlds of unicorns and princesses, as well as dance parties, tea parties and lots of theater. I secretly love it, especially when my computer is turned off and my cell phone is temporarily misplaced. If I’m also able to get on my tractor, work the land and tinker in our barn, then I’ve had just about the perfect day.
L&L: What “must-see” places and eateries do you suggest to folks from out of town check out while visiting Maine?
Gil: My recommendation to folks from away is to saunter, become lost and get on the water. The best experiences are those with no expectations around them. No map. No true destination. So I suggest sauntering down a long sandy path. Loose yourself on some mountaintop. And most definitely find a sea-worthy vessel and look back at Maine from the water. That’s where you’ll find Maine. There are so many great food options and special destinations, that you’ll eventually find one another.
L&L: Thank you for giving us an inside peek into Frontier. If readers want to get in touch with you, what is the best way for them to reach you?