When the owners of two of central Maine's most popular restaurants happen upon each other, rather than walk the other way, they approach each other to share ideas and offer whatever help the other can give. Laura Benedict of the Red Barn and Norm Elvin of the China Dine-ah are two of a kind when it comes to business. Priority ONE is not about making money but helping others....even if it's your competition!

On Friday night, Norm will work alongside Laura at the Red Barn as he and one of his chefs, Ralph Arbour, learn some tricks that have made the Red Barn a huge hit for more than 35 years! This is to help with Norm's new venture, the China Dine-ah Too on Route 3 in South China. This is going to be a mostly take-out, smaller version of the main Dine-ah on Route 202, so prep time is going to have to be fast and if anybody knows a thing or two about fast, it's Laura and her team. At its busiest times (and believe me, the Barn gets busy), the Red Barn can have your order ready within ten minutes, if that. Amazing is what it is!

Norm and me

Now, about this partnership, as we'll call it, between Norm and Laura. These are two of the most generous, giving people you'll ever meet. It is a combination of mutual respect, trust, love for their community and desire to give back that allows them to share, I'm sure, even the most well kept secrets. Laura wants to see the China Dine-ah continue to succeed just Norm wants to see the Red Barn continue their amazing success. I mean, honestly, have you EVER seen a local restaurant plug another local restaurant on their roadside sign? And Norm gave the Red Barn a nice plug in the Dine-ah's weekly newsletter which circulates to thousands of emails every week. I think this also shows a great deal of confidence in each restaurant's brand. Nither is worried one iota about losing customers to the other. If anything, this show of local cooperation will cause more people to gravitate to the local establishments.

Tomorrow, Norm and I will be shopping for our 70's garb for an event we're attending on Saturday night. He told me he has to be done before five because he has to go to work at the Red Barn. Laura, I'd say you've got yourself a good worker there!

Laura with an award from one of the many organizations she and the Red Barn have helped