Taylor Burke Contributing Writer
A new restaurant, Mary Jane’s Slice of Heaven, is bringing fresh flavors and perspectives to the restaurant scene in Farmington.
Mary Ellis Jamison, owner, and her mother Jane Ellis recently opened the pizzeria at 103 Narrow Gauge Square. The restaurant features a full bar, specialty pizzas, regular and gluten-free options along with burgers and salads. Customers can dine-in, take out or grab pizza by the slice.
Jamison, a Dixfield resident, has worked for her father for the last 23 years at Ellis Variety and Diner and spent the last four years managing the business.
Ellis, a Farmington resident, has worked at and managed the Big Stop restaurant at Irving in Farmington.
Jamison and Ellis began planning for the restaurant while in their future location, when the building was leased by Uno Mas. “Certainly isn’t an easy task opening a business,” Jamison said. She had to wait for her pizza oven to come in as well as other things, delaying the opening from the original Jan. 7 date.
“It’s frustrating, as far as trying to set up a business,” Ellis said. “There’s no handbook out there that tells you that, so you kind of have to figure out what licenses you need and who to contact,” she said.
She has a passion for cooking, especially pizza, and she loves the challenge of being busy and getting orders out on time. “It is the most exhilarating thing,” she said, “it’s fun for me.”
Mary Jane’s provides services and products that other pizza restaurants may not have. “Nobody else has a full bar,” Ellis said, “Nobody else has the ingredients we have. So that makes us unique.” The restaurant uses fresh ingredients, not frozen. The fries are freshly cut, the dough is hand-tossed using Jamison’s own recipe and they incorporate Maine-made products wherever they can.
The restaurant has monthly specialty pizzas and burgers that aren’t on the daily menu. Upcoming specialty pizzas include Reuben, Cuban and even a Thanksgiving pizza.
“I want to make sure people are getting the quality and quantity that they are paying for,” Jamison said. This isn’t easy as fresh ingredients cost more than frozen and employees must be paid minimum wage, $12 per hour.
Jamison sees her restaurant as a starter job where employees, some who have never worked in the restaurant business, gain career building skills
. “I love to teach people,” she said, “you don’t learn things by just seeing it once.”
Brooke Valentin, a UMF sophomore and employee at Mary Jane’s, has worked in catering but never at a restaurant. She’s had some obstacles along the way but is really liking her new job as a waitress and hostess. “It is really stressful, but they do make it fun,” she said.
Some of the logistics of waitressing are taking time to get used to. “My thing is just having trouble remembering the numbers of the tables,” Valentin said, “because the set-up is a little weird.” When she gets overwhelmed, Ellis is always there to support her, offering patience and friendliness to the working environment.
Brianna McGrath, a UMF senior, recently tried Mary Jane’s. She had heard that the pizza was good so her expectations were high. “They did not disappoint,” she said. “I think I’ll definitely go back.”
Jamison wants to create a welcoming atmosphere for all ages and share her passion for pizza with the people of Farmington.“I like providing the service to the community,” she said, “and providing a product that is a happy product.”
Jamison and Ellis are planning on introducing events like open mic and trivia nights, as well as new menu items like dessert pizza, in the future. Although they are now open, they will have a grand opening in the spring providing access to the patio and giveaways for customers.