Might As Well face It, You’re Addicted to Lunch
Since the first shop opened in Orono in 2008, Harvest Moon Deli has grown from a cozy little sandwich shop into a four-location lunchtime mini-empire in the greater Bangor region. Now with two locations in Bangor and one in Brewer alongside the original Orono shop, Harvest Moon has become one of the go-to places in the area for a fast, tasty lunch.
It all started with Keith Manaker, who conceived of the chain nearly a decade ago. Back in 2007, he was deciding on a name for his soon-to-be-business, and landed on Harvest Moon as the eventual winner.
“We knew the feel we wanted to have,” Manaker said. “Orono had an earthy feel to it, so we were looking for a name that would convey the kind of restaurant we were trying to open. We wanted to come across as wholesome, healthy and earthy. Someone threw out Harvest Moon Deli, and everyone was like ‘yes!’”
That name spawned the musical theme of the business — every sandwich is named for a band or artist, and many of the ingredients play off something about that artist.
Customer favorites include the Bobby Zimmerman, made with cracked pepper turkey, bacon, Swiss cheese, spinach, and homemade avocado ranch dressing; the Ella Fitzgerald, a savory blend of crispy bacon, melted mozzarella and pesto mayo with spinach and tomato; the Blondie, a creative take on a Reuben featuring turkey, coleslaw, swiss cheese and thousand island dressing; and the Paul McCartney, a meat-tastic sandwich piled high with roast beef. McCartney, a decades-long vegetarian, might not approve, but diners certainly do.
“When people eat here, whether they can put their finger on it or not, they realize there’s something special about our sandwiches,” said Manaker.
The menu is rounded out by homemade soups, a selection of salads, cookies, chips and an array of gourmet sodas and iced teas.
In 2014, Manaker opened the second Harvest Moon location at Columbia Street in downtown Bangor. The third location, in the Twin City Plaza in Brewer, opened in October 2015, and the fourth spot, located at 366 Griffin Road next to Union Street Athletics, opened in May 2016. In 2015, Zack Richardson came on to join Manaker as co-owner of the growing business.
Though each location serves the same menu and the cozy, casual atmosphere, there are slight differences with each place—color scheme, decor, in-house specials. The Bangor location offers a salad bar. New this fall, the Orono location has begun serving a small selection of craft beer, while the Brewer and Orono locations are now open later, until 8 p.m.
“We want each location to have its individual charm. We want a similar feel with unique characteristics,” Richardson said.
Manaker said he believes the secret to his business’ success is that he and Richardson have made a point of making sure every employee at each location is treated well, and encouraged to do the best they can do.
“I know a lot of people will say the customer always comes first. The question is, how does a business owner make sure that the customer always comes first?” said Manaker. “I’m not sure if I’ve learned this or that I’ve just always seen the logic in it, but I strongly believe that no business can thrive, or even survive, in the long run without great people. You have to have employees that take pride in what they do. We are very fortunate to have those types of people working for us.”