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Frontier’s transformation into Nomad Pizza

October 28, 2022

Lily Echeverria
THE SLICE IS RIGHT: Pizza is being kneaded at Nomad Pizza's kitchen. Nomad's co-owners Tom Grim and Matt Shankle discuss opening the restaurant earlier this month which has taken the place of Frontier.

Nomad Pizza, a business that originated in New Jersey, officially opened its brick and mortar restaurant in the Fort Andross Mill earlier this month. For the past year, Nomad operated as a food truck, serving pizza, homemade pasta and salads in Belfast, Monmouth and Portland, among other cities and towns in Maine.

Nomad partner Matt Shankle wants potential customers to know that the new restaurant has its own unique character.

“We’re definitely not a pizza chain,” Shankle said. “We have a pretty tried and true method of what we do. We try to use the absolute best ingredients we possibly can to produce the best pizza we can.”

The Nomad menu is small, but it is an intentional decision by Nomad partners in order to focus on providing the best possible options.

“When you have a small menu, you can really focus on the items that you have and make sure they’re fresh and [from] the best possible product they can,” Shankle said.

Nomad’s pizza is wood-fired, and their ingredients are almost entirely locally-sourced, many of them coming from farms around Maine.

“Our focus has been to try to use as much local stuff as we possibly can,” Shankle said.

Co-owner Tom Grim’s son Aaron and wife Briis operate a goat farm and creamery in Litchfield. Grim’s other son Nicholas and his wife Noelle opened a homemade pasta operation,Nomad Pasta Co., in Belfast. Both of Grim’s sons’  products are featured at Nomad Pizza.

When looking for space to open their restaurant, Grim and Shankle came across an ad by the owner of Frontier, a former Brunswick staple, that closed earlier this year.

“Michael Gilroy, who had started and created Frontier, was looking for culinary partners,” Shankle said. “We hit him up and the rest is kind of history.”

Prior to closing, Frontier’s restaurant, café and movie theater provided an unrivaled community venue in a building overlooking the Androscoggin River.

“Frontier built this amazing space. They weren’t just a restaurant. They built a community,” Shankle said. “We want people to know that what we’re doing is taking this beautiful space that Gil and Frontier have created and continuing [their mission] but also bringing in some different food and different ideas.”

In a letter on Frontier’s website, Gilroy wrote to the community about the transition from Frontier to Nomad.

“As we look ahead towards the next decade, it is time to hand over this community space to its next steward. Frontier will be passing that torch, in its entirety, to Nomad,” Gilroy wrote.

Despite the stress of opening a new business, Grim and Shankle say Nomad’s move to Brunswick was largely hassle-free, thanks to help from the Frontier staff and the town’s governance.

“Coming from a state like New Jersey with a much larger population, bureaucracy gets kind of crazy. Here, it’s a little bit more local … everyone’s just been extremely helpful,” Shankle said. “Just from being open for almost a month now, the response from the community’s been awesome.”

Aside from a large wood-fired oven and a few paintings on the walls, the space Frontier previously occupied remains largely unchanged.

“We kind of kept the space the same, and I think people appreciate that. People are just happy to be back in here,” Shankle said.

While the establishment at Fort Andross Mill might have a different name and menu, Grim and Shankle have ensured the atmosphere at Nomad is just as warm as it’s always been.


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