Hair and makeup by Randi Preis, Style Me Portland
Photographed at the Tate House Museum
At their Old Port restaurant, Dan Talmatch and Kelly Marble-Talmatch find-and share-the love.
On Valentine’s Day—the coldest day of 2016 so far—a bartender at the North Point texted owner Dan Talmatch about a small problem with the ice machine. After some back-and-forth to resolve the issue, Dan told the bartender some surprising news, which she immediately shouted out to everyone cozied up inside: “Dan and Kelly just got married!”
Four years ago, the North Point opened on a quiet stretch of Silver Street. Sitting at a long banquette with afternoon light streaming in, before the evening cocktail and dinner service begins, Dan and Kelly recall the restaurant’s early days and how they met. Although he hadn’t previously worked in restaurants, Dan moved to Portland to open the North Point with his brother. The pair renovated a space that had served as a hair salon, ripping out hair dryer stations in favor of corner window seating and exposed brick, adding a second bathroom that they wallpapered with old-fashioned black- and-white portraits, and scouring local shops for antique accessories. Rather than televisions, the walls feature paintings and collages by their younger brother, an artist whose passing inspired the opening. The effect is a bar that’s cozy, comfortable, and seems like it’s been there forever. “People come in and tell us it reminds them of special places they’ve been and liked,” explains Dan. “If they’re from New York, it reminds them of New York. If they’ve taken a special trip to Amsterdam, it reminds them of there. It hits home.”
The night the couple met, the restaurant had only been open a few weeks. Kelly came in for drinks with friends; she left with Dan’s phone number. She’s originally from Saco, but, like Dan, was unfamiliar with Portland. Many of their first dates involved checking out other restaurants and venues around town. The outings simultaneously served as research for the restaurant, which, like their relationship, was beginning to flourish.
Almost exactly three years after the date they met, the fun-loving couple had a surprise wedding ceremony. With Dan’s two grown daughters coming to town for a visit from Norway (where Dan had lived previously for 20 years), the couple decided it was the perfect time to say, “I do.” Joined by Kelly’s four children, they all headed to a farm in New Gloucester for a weekend getaway; the kids were simply hoping for an engagement announcement. The children were told to dress for a family photo session, and a photographer captured their astounded, joyous faces when they learned they were actually about to attend their parents’ wedding ceremony. “It was simple and the perfect way to bring our family together,” says Kelly. She shows off photos of the wedding party, posed in the snow with red noses and huge grins, to the customers she regularly chats up. “At the end of the day it’s about the love that we have for them and for us.”
At the restaurant, Kelly fills in wherever she’s needed, whether it’s managing, serving, scheduling, or staffing, and her kids will occasionally pitch in to help. “It’s turned into a family business,” she says. Although both she and Dan are new to running a restaurant— Kelly was a hair stylist; Dan worked in IT, sales, and banking—they’ve quickly learned to simply treat their customers how they like to be treated when they dine out. “Every day there’s someone whose day is made—whether they’re gluten- free and we can offer a substitution, or perhaps it’s having the bartender make ‘too much’ of a few cocktails, so I can give a few tastes to some deserving guests,” says Dan. “We try and be as accommodating as possible. We want people leaving here happy.”
In preparation for this evening’s dinner service, staff is beginning to trickle in. A prep cook arrives and then a manager, each greeting Dan and Kelly with enthusiastic, happy hellos. As candlelight replaces afternoon sunshine, and customers begin to fill up the intimate, atmospheric space, the couple will head home to four kids, a rescue dog named Nash, and an adopted kitten named Mango, in honor of the North Point’s Mango Peach-a-Tini cocktail. As they get up to leave, it’s unclear if what Kelly says next is referring to work or home, but with the way their lives float easily between family and hospitality, it doesn’t seem to matter. “It’s a full house,” she says.