College is all about change and growth. It only makes sense, then, that the towns and communities (and specifically restaurants) around colleges will grow and change as well. It is with the eye to evolution that the Orono and Old Town (and beyond) communities welcome O.T.O, or “Out of the Ordinary,” a new pizza and specialty burger restaurant located in Old Town.
O.T.O., the creation of Kyle Lemieux and Ida McChesney, opened in December 2018. This new restaurant should be met with considerable excitement to the college student community for their unique brand of pizza and burgers, including a rotating series of specialty pizzas and “stuffed” burgers. This month the establishment is featuring the Taste of Italy Pizza and the Ciao Bella Burger, both of which list ingredients as a ricotta, pepperoni and sausage, mozzarella, marinara, while the burger boasts a fried ravioli topping as well.
Founder and manager Kyle Lemieux offered some information about how the restaurant came to be, explaining, “I have personally been in the restaurant industry for 12 years,” working in several establishments throughout Maine. One reason that Lemieux decided to open O.T.O was his knack for crafting creative dishes at home with family and friends.
“When I lived in Southern Maine, every week my wife Stefanie and I would have friends over for dinner night. This is where a lot of my burger creations started. My first stuffed burger ever created was our jalapeno popper burger, followed by our Thanksgiving burger, then more and more creations every week after that,” Lemieux said. “Occasionally we would change it up and do pizzas which sparked the outta the ordinary pizza creations as well.”
This idea of food being “out of the ordinary” is exactly the experience Lemieux wants his customers to have too.
“We want our guests to step out of [their] everyday routine and [the] same old monotonous meals and try something new. Something that is guaranteed to make your taste buds jump with joy. Our creations are far from your everyday normal eats,” Lemieux said.
Lemieux approaches food ideas with an open mind, not afraid to hear from others.
“My creativity in the kitchen comes from a lot of different places. It could be something I have tried before that gives me inspiration to create my own version, or someone saying to me that I should create something and I give it a shot! I like to tell people that I’m a little twisted when it comes to food and will make things work that you don’t think will! I try to take items or meals that you wouldn’t typically think go together and make them go together. Every item that we test in the kitchen has to go through our employees and neighbors. If the general consensus is not that it’s amazing [then] [it’s] back to the drawing boards until it is. I will not put something out there that is not going to wow every person that eats it,” Lemieux said.
When you look at the menu, it quickly becomes apparent that O.T.O. is exploring new culinary creations with each meal. Lemieux further highlighted some ways that he wants to show that O.T.O is different from other restaurants.
“The difference with us is that we are taking combinations that you wouldn’t think would work and making them work. For instance our Crab Rangoon Pizza, our best-selling pizza is made with our house-made crab rangoon filling as a base then topped with crab pieces and pizza cheese and then after it’s cooked, [it is] finished with fried wontons, green onions and Thai chili sauce. None of our specialty pizzas have red sauce as the base,” Lemieux said.
It would only make sense that Lemieux’s passion extends beyond the kitchen; he has big hopes for getting the word out about all things out of the ordinary.
“I would love to grow O.T.O. as a brand, and eventually, open more locations. My current goal is to get as involved in the community and university as I can. I want people to realize how great our food is and how cheap it is for the quality that you receive,” Lemieux said.
As the food scene in Orono and Old Town area changes, with restaurants and bars opening and closing, it is with excitement that the University of Maine community and beyond can look to O.T.O as an establishment that is willing to break the mould and give customers a place to be equally surprised and satisfied.