A midsize, suburban-meets-rural town, Gorham has long been a Portland bedroom community, and despite a small downtown with good bones (and within walking distance of the University of Southern Maine campus), it hasn’t possessed much gravity of its own. Gradually, that’s been changing: to a bookshop and a pizza counter, the downtown added a fancy restaurant and a rather hip barbershop. However, the one great contemporary marker of community — a coffee shop — was still lacking. Last year, longtime resident Nancy Ames, who spent most of her career in insurance, decided to remedy the situation. Previously, she had apprenticed at a bakery in Vermont. “I loved it — firing up the ovens, cranking up the tunes, hands in the dough,” she says. In Gorham, she opened Sullivan House Bakery, equal parts coffee hangout and pastry destination. The inch-thick, perfectly salted chocolate-chip cookies are showstoppers. The fluffy scones, pillowy biscuits, and enormous cinnamon rolls are no slouches either. Such was the local appetite for an establishment like hers, lines ran out the door on opening day. Now, Ames offers discounts to kids from the nearby elementary on early-dismissal days, and a high-school French class recently visited to sample French-style pastries. The space is filled with comfy couches, communal tables, and local artwork. “I wanted to build a place that felt like a respite,” Ames says, “a place people wanted to be a part of.”
Chipping in: Nancy Ames’s delicious cookies aren’t all she bakes up — for every loaf of bread she sells, she donates another to a local food pantry, affordable-housing group, or retirement community. 102 Main St., Gorham. 207-222-0399.