Little Dog Coffee Shop, an integral part of Maine Street’s restaurant and café circuit, was acquired by new owners Larry and Diana Flaherty in July 2022. The Flahertys are the proprietors of the Metropolitan Coffee Houses (“the Met”) of North Conway, N.H., Settlers Green, N.H. and Freeport, Maine.
When the Freeport location opened around a year ago, Larry Flaherty became aware that Little Dog was available to purchase.
“I thought the synergies of having two stores nearby each other just made perfect sense,” Larry Flaherty said. “The more I learned about Little Dog, the more I was impressed. The history there [and its] integration within the community was very impressive.”
The coffee shop’s new owners have made several changes, the first of which being its coffee beans. Under the previous owners, the shop had a relationship with Portland-based Coffee by Design, and new employees would travel to its headquarters for a barista training session. Now, with the Flahertys at the shop’s helm, coffee beans are sourced from the couple’s own roastery.
The Flahertys have maintained the majority of Little Dog’s classic menu, but instead of sourcing food from multiple suppliers, they now use Performance Foodservice, which is based in Goochland County, Va..
Prices are significantly lower than they were under the previous ownership. In the coming weeks, the Flahertys hope to institute a made-to-order lunch menu and a bakery case with desserts.
Larry Flaherty estimates that 95 percent of returning customers have responded well to the changes. “In general, it’s been very positive,” Larry Flaherty said. “Unfortunately, you can’t please everyone all the time, although you try.”
For many who have frequented the establishment, a new owner is unlikely to change their affinity for its atmosphere and provisions.
“I didn’t realize there was a new owner,” Eileen Styles of Topsham said.
Hugh Maynard of Bath, who has been a patron for over a decade, echoed this sentiment.
“There [are] changes, but I don’t feel that they’re significant,” Maynard said.
Little Dog has been a gathering place for Styles to catch up with old friends and get to know new acquaintances. She regularly invites people from the Highlands, the retirement community where she lives, to enjoy coffee and conversation at Little Dog.
Styles brought friend Arlene Nicholson to Little Dog when they first met at the Highlands years ago, and the two have continued to visit the café together.
“The atmosphere is always welcoming and friendly,” Nicholson said. “You can stay as long as you want. It’s the most special place there is.”