Mob Scene

When The Maven first arrived in Bangor from southern Maine all those years ago to attend UMaine, she was shocked by three things: the size of the mall, the sobering truth that even her warmest parka couldn't handle an Orono winter, and the fact that there were lines out the door for a table at The Olive Garden.

As a foodie-in-training and a staunch supporter of locally owned eateries, this was disheartening, to say the least. At the time, Bangor was many things, but it was not a restaurant town.

To some extent, that's still true — the chains at the mall are always packed, while local cafes and bistros generally aren't — and the sagging economy hasn't helped. But one thing has: The Bangor Lunch Mob, which rallies each week at a different independently owned restaurant in the Queen City. Started by Gibran Vogue Graham, who works for the city's convention and visitors bureau, the Mob is a brilliant model — one cities and towns throughout Maine should emulate — and thanks to Twitter and Facebook, word has spread like wildfire.

The Mob is trying to reach 700 members with its Facebook group this week (it had 669 when we last checked, and @bangorlunchmob has 92 followers on Twitter. The benefits of following are simple: Gibran announces the week's Mob scene on the morning of, usually a Wednesday, so if you're not paying attention, you're either brown bagging it or you'll end up at Chili's. Today's venue is Sea Dog Brewing Co. on the Bangor waterfront.

So if you've been looking for lunch in all the wrong places, stop subjecting yourself to chains and join the Mob. Just be sure to get there early, because you're not alone in wanting to sample Indian. Or Thai. Or subs. In several cases, the restaurants in question really have been mobbed.

And that's something you usually only see at The Olive Garden.


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