Brunswick restaurateur Mike Jerome sees restaurant ideas wherever he turns

Spend a day with Brunswick restaurateur Mike Jerome, and you never know where you’ll end up or what new ideas to come up.

You may find it running on the wrong electrical outlets. When he microwaved at Fat Boy Drive-In, the historic hamburger hut he bought in 2020And the He’s been shorting the whole place lately, he and his team have taken the issue to fix it.

You might see him managing his 60 or so employees. He seems to know everyone by their name and on a recent June day as he moved from restaurant to restaurant — Fat Boy, Tex-Mex bar, Paulus candle aisles, new Flip snack place — he greeted his staff in person, not only talking to them about bathroom locks and scheduling staff, but Also joking about their clothes and their families.

Maybe Weather forecast. If the weather’s fine, learn to expect crowds at the seasonal Fat Boy. If the weather is bad, Bolos may be the one that needs staffing.

Or maybe he’s referring to his recent discoveries on Pinterest.

Jerome said enthusiastically at a Monday morning meeting of his company, Jerome Inc. He picked up his smartphone to show the senior management team a photo of a ballroom filled with large white Edison lanterns.

Sabrina Cooper, 20, is fulfilling an order at the Fat Boy Drive-In. Derek Davis / Staff Photographer

“Yeah, because that’s what you found on Pinterest last night, right?” Samantha Moore, COO made fun of him.


Jerome often wears an enthusiastic smile and points firmly. After just a minute of speaking to him, his brain is evidently moving a mile per minute, filled with thoughts that long for life. he is’A man with an idea, according to who they work for.

He said he came to Brunswick for the community and is constantly brainstorming new ways to boost it, mainly by creating new businesses and making them good places for his employees to work. When he sought a liquor license for Paulus, he told council members that he wanted to create more than just a bar. He said his interest was to “build another community gathering place.”

His restaurants in the Brunswick community are a diverse group. This is because, he said, he does not want to compete with himself, and he also makes life interesting. Previous projects include Portland Bay in Brunswick and Kamasutra in Portland, a soup company he started with his brothers nearly 15 years ago. (They closed the company in 2021.)

“He’s rehabilitated some very important places in the community,” Brunswick City Council member Dan Ankelis said of Jerome. “A lot of people in the community were afraid that this very historic Brunswick institution (Fat Boy) would collapse and disappear completely. I really appreciate that a local person has put so much time and resources into preserving what’s great about Brunswick there.”

Mike Jerome works on the grill at Fat Boy Drive-In, one of the three restaurants he owns. Derek Davis / Staff Photographer

The way to the restaurant

Jerome was raised in Edinburgh, Scotland. His father is Scottish, his mother is American. His first job in the food industry was making pizza at Pizza Hut in Edinburgh. in 16, he came to the United States for boarding school. He went on to study biology at a university in the States, with plans to go to medical school. But halfway to college, Jerome realized he didn’t want to be a doctor. He left school and returned to Edinburgh.

There, Jerome found a job at Hard Rock Café, “attracting the bright lights, huge staff, and fast-paced environment”, as well as the restaurant’s association with the United States. “It was great,” he recalls the day. “It was just kind of this revolving door for young travelers from all over the world.” fall into it He loves the food industry while working there, and finds himself particularly drawn to the closeness and collaboration of his restaurant “family.”

Two years later, Jerome returned to the United States, eventually enrolling in a culinary school in Texas. He wasn’t interested in cooking as a profession, per se, but by then knew he wanted to run his own restaurants, and he hoped his education would one day help him do so.

Jerome works on the grill at Fat Boy Drive-In, which he bought in 2020. He runs the restaurant and doesn’t usually cook there, but he said he went to cooking school so he could do whatever work was necessary at the restaurants he hoped for a special day.

Jerome said, “I wanted to make sure that if something happened to the waiter I could go back in there and help, and if something happened in the kitchen, I could go back in there and help, and it would always be a smooth transition.”

After graduation, he moved to Portland, tired of the Texas heat. He was shocked by the Portland beauty when he visited the city for a wedding. His first job in Maine, as a shift manager for the Portland Pie Company in Scarborough, taught him more management and business skills, he said, and his bosses “kind of helped me navigate the waters of starting a new business.”

Jerome’s first step into the property began as a family effort. In 2009, he and two brothers took out a small loan from the city of Portland to start Kamasouptra, which sold a range of homemade soups at the Portland General Market and later at the Food Court in Freeport. (His career remains a family affair. His father Mel Jerome works as a facility and maintenance manager for Jerome Inc.)

Not long after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Jerome put up this sign at the Fat Boy Drive Inn location in Brunswick. He has four daughters. Derek Davis / Staff Photographer

Make a home in Brunswick

In 2013, Jerome and his family moved to Brunswick. The family was drawn to the city by the excellent school system – he had two daughters at that time (later, he had a third; now he has a child with his new wife) – And for the community itself. Early on, though, it wasSurprised to discover that Brunswick does not have a full service pizzeria. He has reached out to previous employers at the Portland Pie Company about this. Although they weren’t interested in opening a location in Brunswick themselves, they gave Jerome the green light to license the brand and do it himself.

The Brunswick location opened in January 2016, and business is booming. After about five years, he sold it. “The time has come,” he simply said. The past few years have seen a flurry of business activity for Jerome. In some ways, Brunswick is similar to Mr. Monopoly. He owns this, this and this, and he acquired it then, and then after. In 2018, he began leasing the space on Dunlap Street that would become Paulus. In 2020, at the height of the pandemic, he took over the position of beloved Fat Boy and, later, Bench Warmers, a bar on the corner of Maine Street and Station Avenue.

Buying a Fat Boy Drive-In as COVID-19 raged was a risky move. He was worried, but a friend at work reassured him. I told him the car was specifically designed for social distancing. Customers never enter Fat Boy; Their order is brought to their car.

Jerome said the friend told him, “Fat Boys is the only thing that can be open the way it should be and the way it’s always been.” “People will flock there because it’s the only place that’s a natural experience right now.” And she was right. “

Fat Boy Drive-In in Brunswick, one of the three restaurants owned by Mike Jerome. Mike’s daughter Ira, 12, serves an order at the restaurant on Wednesdays. Derek Davis / Staff Photographer

As for Bench Warmers, he ran the bar for eight months under the Bench name, then spent a year remodeling the venue into something completely new – Flip Breakfast. He did so to fill another gap in the market he identified: Maine Street lacked a place to sit with a traditional menu. Inside, he transformed A dark space with turquoise paint and a pink neon sign, among other changes. Abroad, added a A brightly colored egg shaped sign.

Now, another transformation of Jerome’s restaurant is in full swing: Bolos is being remodeled this way Month. It will reopen as Bolos Burger Bar, and candle lanes will be gone. Jerome realizes that this will make some old people unhappy.

“When buying The Bowling Bowl in 2019, our favorite part of the building was the nostalgic feel, the history and the candlelit lanes where so many memories were made,” the website says. Unfortunately, he went on to say, “Every year it becomes difficult to maintain, repair, and replace essentially non-existent parts unless they are made to order. We understand this can be annoying and the end of an era, but we can assure our customers that Bolos will continue to be a fun and safe party venue. and entertainment.”

Jerome Add entertainment space for performances and gatherings and add traditional games such as corn hole, darts and croquet.

Jerome’s latest project is where the My Tie bar on Main Street used to be. He recently started leasing the space and plans to convert his basement bar and job space into offices for Jerome Inc. , plus a rental space for special occasions, and maybe, he says – and you can almost see the wheels spinning in his head as he suggests – an organic beer club?

These days, it’s possible Have breakfast, lunch, and dinner—not to mention grab a drink or play a game—at a different Jerome Company in Brunswick without straying from the city, or even all that far from Main Street.

Sabrina Cooper, 20, executed an order at Fat Boy Drive-In in late June. Jerome has 60 employees. Derek Davis / Staff Photographer

Staff satisfaction

For Jerome, the cast is on top. yObs should support life, he said, not the other way around.

“I want (the staff) to come in and say to me, Mike, come look at my new car.” And to know that the success of the restaurant concept that I started, and that they had a great role in achieving and maintaining success, allowed them to buy that new car.”

Libby Butin has worked at Bowdoin College with Jerome since she was 15, when she started as a host at Portland Pie. She has since worked as a maid, waiter, and manager. This summer, Jerome created a paid internship just for her, which combines event planning, Fatboy management, and tracking the company’s chief operating officer.

Putin said that what started as a place to work hard and earn money quickly has become so much more for her. She described Jerome as her unofficial college advisor (he wrote a letter of recommendation to Bowdoin), cheerleader and teacher. “He really wanted to see me succeed a lot, and that was great,” Putin said.

Putin is sure that the skills you have gained from working for Jerome – such as collaborating with partners, running a business, planning and managing events – will come in handy no matter what profession you are in.

For Jerome, creating a good work culture is essential. He believes profits will follow. This belief guided his work in a big way. He said he opened up Flip in part to give managers Shawn Russell and Celeste Thibeault, who had previously worked with him at Portland Pie and Fat Boy, an incentive to stay with Jerome Inc. With the ability to learn and grow.

“It’s great to have local business owners who are reinvesting in the community and taking root here and committing to us,” Ankelis said. “We want more of that, so I can’t wait to see what he does next.”

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