Maine’s new Rock Row center signs top chef to run its food hall

Al Urbanski
Real Estate Editor & Manager
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The Live Nation performance center is active at Portland's $600 million Rock Row center, and retail is starting to open.

Rock Row, Waterstone Properties’ $600 million development in Portland, Maine, has hired chef Akhtar Nawab and his Hospitality HQ to operate the 26,000-sq.-ft. food hall it is planning to open. 

Nawab served as chef at Gramercy Tavern and Craft in New York and won a “Best New Restaurant” award from the James Beard Foundation. He and HHQ manage the Inner Rail Food Hall in Omaha, Dr. Murphy’s Food Hall in Chicago, and Lyric Market in Houston.

“Greater Portland has a rich culinary offering and local food culture that is world-renowned. We want Rock Row’s Food Hall to be a foundation of that culture and a showcase for the many rising stars in the local culinary scene to grow and shine,” Nawab said.

Greater Portland was named “Restaurant City of the Year” in 2018 by Bon Appetit magazine.

Rock Row is located in Westbrook, Maine, just outside of Portland, alongside a 400-ft.-wide stone quarry mined by Blue Rock Industries beginning in 1942. Now filled with water, Rock Row has a boardwalk around the quarry and has made it a center for recreational activities and events.

The development has 300,000 sq. ft of retail for lease, some of it already occupied. Currently open for business is an 80,000-sq.-ft. Market Basket and The Paper Store. Still to come are REI, an Element Hotel by Westin, Firehouse Subs, Big Fin Poke, and Starbucks. 

Also open at Rock Row is the Live Nation Maine Savings Pavilion, a live performance center. When completed, its 110 acres will contain one of the state’s largest convention centers, 200,000 sq. ft. of office space, a 200,000 sq. ft. medical and research campus, and 20-plus restaurants.