PelotonPosts is a monthly interview with a member of PelotonLabs, a co-working space in Portland’s West End with a mission to connect and encourage people stepping out of traditional modes of employment. This month, Peloton’s founder Liz Trice caught up with Jacob, Jeff, Nate and Tony Delois. The brothers are owners of the newly renovated Francis Hotel and Boster & Snow Restaurant at 747 Congress Street across from Tandem Coffee. The hotel and restaurant opened on Tuesday, October 3rd.
Nate: Two years ago, drinking coffee at Tandem, I saw the for-sale sign, and we started talking to the broker. We really liked the building, but didn’t know what we wanted to do. . . Tony had the idea of a hotel.
Jacob: none of us had worked together before, and we have different backgrounds. Tony’s background is hospitality management – manages the Admiral Inn and Colonial Inn in Ogunquit. My background is hospitality marketing, and Nate does real estate development. Jeff’s background is insurance, so he brings dollars and cents.
Nate: It’s been great. We get along, and we’re good communicators.
And you guys are brothers?
Jacob: Nate, Tony, and I all three grew up in Yarmouth, four years apart, and Jeff moved there for Sophomore year of high school with Nate.
You had to do a historic renovation, right?
Nate: It was built as a single-family home in 1881 for Mellon E. Bolster by Francis Fassett. One of Bolster’s businesses was called Bolster Snow & Company, then the largest dry goods and clothing store at the time. The four brick buildings in a row, from the Francis to the Roma, were all built by Francis. Our cousins are involved with the new Roma.
Jacob: Francis Fassett helped redesign the West End after that last great fire. He was John Calvin Steven’s mentor, and the two of them really helped shape the look of the West End. Fassett also designed the original Maine Medical Center hospital, and the Baxter Building [now Via].
Nate: We put it on the National Register of Historic places. . . every building plan had to be submitted to the state and national park service for approval. We worked with Archetype Architects and a historic preservation consultant out of Ipswich [Massachusetts].
What makes The Francis and Bolster & Snow special?
Jacob: We want to give visitors a uniquely Portland experience – artisinal food, art in our gallery space, really be a neighborhood hangout space.
Tony: Cassie Foster is our general manager. She and chef Nick Verdisco have created a warm, welcoming, approachable menu. For example, we’re serving lobster, but we’re poaching knuckles and claws and serving it in an herb broth with curry and apples and cucumber. We have over 15 ciders, including Oyster River and Norumbega on tap.
Nate: We think everything about the project makes The Francis special: restoring a building that had been vacant for over a decade, the preservation of the historic architectural detail, the modern design by Urban Dwellings (located in the East End), and all the guest amenities that are typically found in larger properties. We have an in-house spa that will be open to guests and the community as well, mini-bars in each room stocked with Maine-Made products and 24-hour concierge services.
And now you’re open! Can we come and see it?
Nate: Yes! We welcome the whole community. We’re open 24/7, and the restaurant and bar will be open at 5 p.m. every night. We have a gallery with rotating art shows, so we’ll be hosting First Fridays starting Oct 6th. Everyone should come see our amazing wood and tile flooring that’s been covered by carpeting for 80 years.
Jacob: Right now, we’re starting with a show by Nichole Wolf called “Sunk,” which featured found objects from the ocean like cockpit windows, pulleys, and buoys.
How has your experience at Peloton been?
Tony: Peloton has been amazing. The proximity couldn’t be better.
Nate: It’s been a really good working environment. Early on it was really useful to have a weekly place to meet when there was no heat in the building. And the ease of being able to add memberships on as we grew – we’re now at 16 employees!
Jacob: And we got to know the neighborhood really well.
Jeff: I’m just thrilled to get to help to develop this side of Portland. I own a multi-unit in Parkside.
PelotonLabs offers memberships from $30 to $300 that include workspace, community, coffee, internet, and access to Legal, Marketing, Networking, Accounting, and Market Research coaches. Visit http://pelotonlabsportland.com to schedule a tour.