Meridians brings new flavors to Fairfield Main Street

By: Jake Bleich and Elise Ozarowski on October 8th, 2014.
Colby students might best know Fairfield’s Main Street for the recently moved and sorely missed diner, the Kennebec Café. Even though the beloved doughnuts have left, in their wake has arrived a much needed venture: a craft beer, wine and food store, Meridians. Despite opening at the end of the summer, the small store, located in the recently-renovated Gerald Hotel, has been making waves throughout the greater Central Maine community. In its prime, the Gerald Hotel served as a getaway for upper class Bostonians and some silent-film stars. With Meridians’ emphasis on the notion of “terroir”— French for “a sense of place”— the store stocks nearly 400 bottles of small scale and often family produced bottles of wine as well as over 150 varieties of craft beer. The beers and wines you find on the shelves will not be the same in every season or even every month; that constant change keeps the Meridians scene fresh and ever-evolving.

David Gulak, Nate McNab and Josh Sullivan are co-owners and managers at Meridians. The trio chose their Fairfield Main Street location in part due to convenience—Gulak lives within walking distance—and because they see the town as a place with “tons of potential.” Highlighting the city’s slogan, “the Crossroads of Maine,” they see Fairfield as a largely-untapped town as evidenced by the consistent stream of cars that pass by the shop’s front. There are many community connections in the area, and it is a diverse place in terms of income. They do not see Fairfield as a place past its prime, but rather as a community with the potential for a new renaissance as more local businesses are moving into the area. And not only are they moving in, but many are successfully staying open thanks to an improving national economy.

Meridians focuses almost entirely on local flavors. The craft beer scene in Maine has been on the rise since its explosion in the 1990’s, making it relatively easy for the store to stock quality, small batch beer. There is a plethora of Maine beers with bottles ranging from nearby Skowhegan’s Oak Pond Brewing Company to Portland’s well-established Allagash Brewing Company. Aside from local brews, Meridians also carries a vast selection of craft beers from around the United States, Germany, Belgium, as well as lesser-known producers in Japan and France.

When it comes to wine, Gulak, McNab and Sullivan are still able to find great local selections despite Maine’s less-than-ideal vintner, or wine-making climate. However, if Maine wine isn’t enough, the owners firmly believe in finding bottles that are “local somewhere.” They have varieties from all over the world, but the wines you’ll find on Meridians’ shelves are not the ones you’ll find at Hannaford. Each one comes from small farms and producers, not only contributing to farmers’ income, but also ensuring that the wines they sell are made with quality rather than quantity in mind. When asked about the ratio of small companies to big companies stocked on the shelves, McNab could only think of one product on the shelf—a sangria mix of sorts—that comes from a larger company. As McNab put it, that means “99.75% of [their] wine comes from small wineries.”

Although wine may conjure images of tuxedoed Frenchmen sipping Bordeaux, Sullivan stresses that wine is “not an elitist type thing,” which aptly describes the type of service you’ll find when you enter Meridians. Gulak’s knowledge shines when discussing wine while Josh could talk all day about whether you should reach for an IPA or a lager. All three owners share a passion for beer and wine; each one seems to have an encyclopedic knowledge, providing their customers with a pleasant experience regardless of what they walk in the store looking for.

When asked what he would reach for if he had an unlimited supply of any alcohol product in Meridians while on a desert island, Nate chose a red blend wine with artwork reminiscent of its name: Chronic Cellars’ Sofa King Bueno. Josh, in contrast, would choose beer (especially if the island was tropical). He had trouble picking only one in the store, but felt sure that it would be one of their many Bavarian-style pilsners.

When you walk in the door, one of the first features of the store that you will notice is a giant wall mural that features different aromas and flavors represented in an artful pie-chart, that David’s partner Emilie painted just hours before Meridians’ official opening. The night before the event, Nate, David and Josh went to bed at four a.m. only to return to the store a few hours later. Still, Josh described the opening as “great” and “crazy.”

The opening was a success in part due to the “fantastic” community reaction. Josh said that they appreciate that there are not only beer and wine enthusiasts coming to the store, but also “average folks.” Even if people come in solely to see how the renovated Gerald Hotel is currently being used, they are excited to see that there is an independent business in the space. “We get people because it was a historic place,” Josh said. That community support garners hope for the future at Meridians. The trio hope that Fairfield will one day return to its former glory, as more independent businesses take advantage of the historic line of Main Street’s buildings. However, as Josh said, the possibility of success “hinges on people taking risks.” David, Josh and Nate all have passion for what they are doing at Meridians and at other businesses and organizations. Nate also works at Uncle Dean’s Grocery in Waterville, Josh dabbles in farming and teaches part time at Thomas College and David is the founding manager of Barrel’s Community Market.

Don’t hesitate to stop by Meridians at 151 Main Street in Fairfield. They’re open Monday through Saturday from 11 am to 7 pm. If you’re twenty-one, try out some local brews; even if you are not sure what you would like, any one of the guys will be able to provide recommendations. If you’re under twenty-one, you can still find a lot of great local meat, crackers and cheese— Meridians has something for everyone.

Leave a Reply