Blaze Restaurant

Client: Blaze Restaurant, LLC

Location: Downtown Bangor, Maine

Completion: Winter 2013

Once touted as “the lumber capital of the world,” Maine’s Queen City is one of those boom-bust towns that never quite went bust, and is making a comeback. Located in the hub of the 2nd District, Bangor is now home to the second Blaze Restaurant – a successful craft beer & wood-fired cuisine, farm-to-table restaurant. The intent was to bring back the feeling of that industrial lumber town, and complement it with reinterpretations of local building products, updated finishes, reclaimed materials, elegant lighting, and a cushy, refined, atmosphere.

Situated on the first floor of what is known as the Webster Treat block – a six-bay brick structure built in the Italianate style in 1869, it took nearly six months to both remove over a century of patchwork construction, and to repair the existing bones of the building. The original wood timber framing, peach and apricot load-bearing brick walls, and historic tin ceilings were saved. The design took cues from these elements but pushed to expand, and harmonize notions of tradition and common history with contemporary design. Blaze is the result of this synergy.

The restaurant relies on two brick ovens that were built using reclaimed brick found in the fireplace foundation of a turn of the 19th century farmhouse in Holden, Maine. These ovens were designed to allow the recycling of their heat to the second floor, using a chimney that is situated within the stairway.

The flooring consists of wide pine boards that were face-nailed with antique cut nails.  In primary areas, suspended ACT ceilings resembling the original Wellington pattern were used. This has enabled customers to understand each other easily in an hard-scape that would have created reverberation. Maine Heritage Timber supplied era-appropriate reclaimed timber from the bottom of Quakish Lake, a tributary of the Penobscot River. This was applied along a sweeping top-lit wall to create a richly textured backdrop to dining.  Reclaimed river wood was also used to create the “live-edge” bar display.

The patterned panels in this bar display (as well as the lighted pictures of birch trees, in the bar and dining rooms) were made using series of custom, LED-illuminated stencils with themed branches that link the panels and sprinkle the bar area with shimmering, confetti-like, leaves. These were hand drawn, transferred to CAD, and then cut on a CNC milling machine at the Material Science Lab at University of Maine.  Greg Day Lighting provided excellent advice to Ervin Architecture throughout the design process.

Press:  “Blaze Restaurant to open in former Whig & Courier space” by Emily Burnham (May 2012) – “Lighting The Fire At Blaze, Bangor’s New Downtown Eatery” by Emily Burnham (January 2014) –  “Blaze Brings ‘Craft Beer & Wood-Fired Flavors’ to Bangor”  by Tom Minervino (January 2014) – “Bangor Native Opens Blaze Restaurant” by Dale McGarrigle (February 2014)

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