WESTBROOK — Ever since he closed El Mirador Mexican Deli in Portland a dozen years ago, Scott Rehart has dreamed of reviving the business.
His dream came true Saturday, Oct. 27, when Montecito Market held its grand opening at 1102 Bridgton Road.
The market, a joint venture with his wife, Julia Havers, offers Mexican cuisine, chicken pot pie, meat loaf, macaroni and cheese, soups and chili, sandwiches, meats, cheeses — and the popular handmade tortilla chips Rehart started selling more than a decade ago.
Rehart opened his Mexican deli 18 years ago in the Portland Public Market, but when the market closed in 2006 so, too, did El Mirador. The deli served enchilada entrees, rice and beans with Rehart’s handmade tortilla chips on the side. The chips soon became a hit and customers began stopping by just to buy chips to take home.
One day a customer from Cape Elizabeth took a bag of the chips to the IGA supermarket there to see if it was interested in selling them. The store became the first to sell his chips, Rehart said, and continues to sell them today.
By the time he closed the deli, “our tortilla chips were 25 percent of our business, so we focused on that,” Rehart said.
In 2007, Hannaford began to sell Rehart’s Montecito Roadhouse Tortilla Chips in 12 of its supermarkets in southern Maine. Rehart then began distributing them through Michaud Brothers, a Scarborough-based snack food distributor that is now a subsidiary of Snyder-Lance.
The chips, which are handmade out of table tortillas and packaged in hand-sewn bags from a potato bag manufacturer in Presque Isle, now are available in 160 Hannaford supermarkets across New England. They’re also sold at Rosemont Markets in southern Maine, Good Life Market in Raymond and Fresh Markets in New Hampshire.
The chips, made at the Westbrook site, will be a major draw for Monecito Market, but Rehart said his bigger goal is to offer the high-quality Mexican food he remembers growing up enjoying in Southern California. Montecito is a section of Santa Barbara, where he and Havers lived before moving to Maine in 1998.
The market will also offer homemade beignets, a fried pastry that Renhart and Havers came across them while passing through New Orleans six years ago.
“I didn’t know what it was or how to pronounce it,” said Rehart. But after eating one, he was hooked, he said.
“I thought it was great, and I said ‘When I get back to Portland, I want to introduce it there.’ That was six years ago. It took me that long to do it, but I have already developed a following,” he said.
He also wants to support other local businesses. The market sells products from Mother’s Mountain in Falmouth, Raye’s Mustard in Eastport, Jarva Cakes in Kennebunk, Coastal Maine Popcorn in Freeport and Cooper’s Maple Syrup in Windham. Havers is also excited to offer organic dog treats from Andy’s Dandys of Vermont.
Rehart and Havers purchased the building, the former home of Westbrook Pool and Spa, in March 2015. They live in Portland, but hope to renovate a barn on the property into an apartment.
“We are happy as can be to be located here,” Rehart said.
Havers said the market will also allow her husband to get back into customer service.
“Scott’s always been an outgoing, social person. When we had the market, he was always engaging with the public, but when we switched to (tortilla chip) manufacturing … it could get a little isolating,” she said.
Rehart is optimistic about the future of the market.
“People have been encouraging,” he said.
Montecito Market is open 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and can be reached at 856-6811.
Michael Kelley can be reached at 780-9106 or firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @mkelleynews
A dozen years after closing El Mirador Mexican Deli in the Portland Public Market, Scott Rehart has opened Montecito Market at 1102 Bridgton Road in Westbrook.
Montecito Market will offer Mexican cuisine, beignets, sandwiches, meatloaf, chicken pot pie and macaroni and cheese, as well as products from local businesses.
Montecito Market, owned by Julia Havers, above, and her husband, is easy to find due to the larger-than-life rooster out front. Customers who take a photo with the rooster and post it online get free bag of Montecito Roadhouse Tortilla chips.
The handmade tortilla chips that took off after Scott Rehart began offering them at his Mexican deli in Portland, are now available at more than 160 supermarket stores across New England.