BAR HARBOR—After 23 years of making real good food at her Town Hill hut, Mother’s Kitchen owner Tasha Higgins is passing the baton on to another entrepreneurial family, Coffee Matter owners Cristina Devora and her husband Chris Marcial.
With the change in ownership and the addition of Coffee Matter come quality coffee and a full espresso bar, as well as the return of earlier hours. Coffee Matter opened three seasons ago on Rodick Street. Mother’s Kitchen and Coffee Matter will open for this season on June 3 from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for limited days until school is out and then they will be closed on Sundays through the season.
“Cristina and I are balancing school jobs trying to be open,” said Higgins, who took a position running the kitchen at Mount Desert Elementary School in January. Devora is an Ed Tech at Conners Emerson and will be starting a new position at MDES in the fall.
Many may recognize Marcial as the face of Acadia Coffee Company, where he roasts the beans and sells the coffee and where he will continue to work.
On a recent Facebook post, Higgins wrote, “I’m torn with excitement for my future, and heartbreak city. I grew up in Mother’s after I purchased it at age 26. My children Quincy and Valentina grew up here. Many of you remember seeing my kids in backpacks, and high chairs in the earlier years. Then later wreaking havoc when I worked, and later working here.”
Higgins purchased the business from Kirsten Stockman in 1997 after it was open for two seasons. For several years, those traveling through Town Hill were greeted with a large sign that simply read, REAL FOOD GOOD with a red arrow pointing to a small building next to Salsbury’s Hardware and Organic Garden Center.
“Everybody used to write their checks to Real Food Good. Nobody knew the name,” said Higgins, explaining there was always a small sign on the building that said Mother’s Kitchen. “I just went with her model. Just making lunch and that things were homemade and baked right here… A lot of the sandwiches are originals still from her. They all have a story.”
The original model has attracted many visitors throughout the years and it’s one that has locals counting the days until they can order their favorite sandwich again. When the Islander asked what she thought was the reason for the customer loyalty, Higgins said, “Just being there for so long and being a place they can count on being the same every time… I have seen the same people for years. I’ve seen their kids grow. So many people say, ‘this is part of our yearly vacation.’”
And while many say in business that it’s all about location, Higgins would say not being in downtown has worked for Mother’s Kitchen. “That is the difference right there is we’re a destination instead of just walking by.”
Selling the business was not a priority for Higgins, but she knew the time was coming. Then Devora reached out.
“The fact that there were two of them was really appealing,” Higgins said about the couple. “They really want to do their coffee thing, but they want to expand into food… They really want to stick to what we did. They are learning about our vendors, our farmers and our recipes.”
The new owners are purchasing the business on a high note. Higgins said the 2020 season at Mother’s Kitchen was “utterly insane.” This season, Higgins will be in the kitchen through most of this summer working with the new owners on procedure and practice. She mentioned how it may be difficult not to be the boss, but she is looking forward to vacationing for part of the summer, which is something she hasn’t been able to do for more than two decades.
Friends, customers and supporters wrote many comments on the Mother’s Kitchen Food website after Higgin’s announcement.
“Crying bittersweet tears!” wrote Jill Weber. “We have been so lucky to have you, Tasha, and we are so lucky that Kristina and Chris have chosen our island as their home.”
For those who are sad to see her go, Higgins said her final chapter with Mother’s Kitchen may not be written yet.
“I’m going to need a job every summer. I might end up working for them every summer.”