Friday, January 15, 2010

TV’s Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? Comes to Sanford

By Devin Beliveau
Staff Columnist
A handful of Maine 5th graders are getting their shot in the national television spotlight.
On Jan. 6 several 5th graders from around southern and central Maine made their way to the Bonanza Steakhouse in Sanford for a chance to be on the popular Fox TV show: Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?
The game show is a trivia contest that pits 5th graders against adults. The 5th graders who showed up in Sanford, however, were not auditioning to be contestants on the show. These students were being recorded asking and answering trivia questions for viewers at home watching the show.
“It’s not an audition to be on the show, but the question that’s asked (on the local broadcast) is what was taped using these kids,” explained Geoff Titherington, the owner of Bonanza.
“In this way the folks at home can play along and have some local community involvement,” said Jen Myles, an account executive with the CW. “(These taped questions) will actually be in the show. It’s the third break in the show. Then it goes to a commercial break, then the show comes back with these kids saying the correct answer.”
Kayla Bott, a 5th grader from Mt. Vernon who enjoys watching the show, came to Bonanza because “I want to be on TV.” Her favorite part of the show is “when people lose. It’s funny,” Bott said with a laugh.
Jaycee Roberts came to Sanford from Buxton because “I love the show. I like answering the questions.”
Titherington’s restaurant was selected to be the audition location because he advertises with WPXT, the Portland CW Network affiliate that airs Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? “One of the things that they do with the local sponsors of that show is have sessions where the kids can come in and they ask a question which is shown on TV,” explained Titherington.
Titherington has owned and operated the Sanford Bonanza for 25 years, a notable achievement given that only 35 of these restaurants remain from a franchise that once boasted 650 restaurants nationwide. “We have a very stable staff here. There are actually two employees who have been here longer than I have,” said Titherington, explaining his restaurant’s against-the-odds longevity. “We try to be consistent with our service.”
“We look for businesses that are really in the community, and Geoff’s been a really great community supporter so we thought it would be a good fit for him,” commented Myles. Myles also said she believes that these kids questions will be put on the air immediately.
Photo caption: Jaycee Roberts, a 5th grader from Buxton, answers a question at the Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader audition in Sanford. (Devin Beliveau photo)

Maine Diner Named 2010 Restaurateur of the Year

By Jim Kanak
Staff Columnist
Maine Diner owners Myles and Dick Henry added another acknowledgement to the list they’ve compiled for their restaurant over the past 26 years. The Maine Restaurant Association recently gave the Wells establishment its 2010 Restaurateur of the Year Award. The Henry’s will receive the award at the association’s annual dinner at the Holiday Inn by the Bay in Portland on March 30.
“I was shocked,” Myles Henry said, noting that association CEO Richard Grotton had visited the restaurant recently to inform the Henry’s of the award. “He came in with balloons and everything. It was a nice surprise. This is a great award for us to get. I’m thrilled about it.”
The award has been given annually for the past 30 years by the association, with recent winners including the Union Review Lobster Pot in Ellsworth, Slate’s in Hallowell, and Arrow’s in Ogunquit. Grotton said the Maine Diner has long been acknowledged for its quality.
“We have watched them for a long time,” he said. “We watched when they got four and then five million customers and said ‘wow.’ You have to have a really strong game plan to last as long as they have and been as successful. Food fans are fickle.”
The restaurateur award is one of four the association awards annually, along with Chef of the Year. Allied Member, and Lifetime Achievement. “We put out amongst our membership a nomination form asking for the four categories,” said Grotton. “Then a committee reviews the nominations. Generally, one nomination ends up standing out. We cover the gamut of (restaurant types). It’s how well you do what you do and the Henry’s do it very well. You get a measure of the restaurant by the way the help responds. When we went there, they were all out clapping and were pleased for Myles and Dick. It was clear we made a good choice.”
The award culminates a notable few months for the Diner. The Henry’s celebrated their 25th anniversary a couple of years ago and hosted their 5 millionth customer in December 2008. Gov. Jon Baldacci visited recently to acknowledge the diner’s milestones. In addition, the Henry’s will be participating in the New Orleans Food Festival this spring, showcasing their hallmark seafood chowder.
“We’ll be in it annually from now on,” Myles said.
The association is creating a video about the Diner that will be shown the night of the award ceremony. Tickets to the event are $70 and can be ordered online at The ticket price includes a Chef’s reception prior to the diner, the dinner itself, and the ceremony.
The award recognizes more than the Henrys’ 26 years of effort. “It’s a reflection on the restaurant,” said Myles. “It’s an award for the employees and how they do their job. I’m very proud of them.”
Photo caption: (L to R) Myles Henry, Richard Grotton; President, Maine Restaurant Association, Derek Henry, Dick Henry. (Courtesy photo)

MLK Day Celebration to Host Projects for Maine Soldiers

Want to spend a couple of hours making a difference on a national holiday? You can, on Monday Jan. 18th during York’s first Martin Luther King Day of Service celebration.
The MLK Day of Service Committee has just announced two afternoon projects that will reach out to Maine soldiers –those who have just returned from Afghanistan and those that are leaving for that part of the world later this month.
You can spend the afternoon baking and decorating cookies for Maine National Guard troops and their families or you can design and write thank you letters to the National Guard troops about to be deployed. The letters will be held and then sent to the soldiers once they are settled in Afghanistan.
“This is a way to tell them they are appreciated and not forgotten,” according to Zoe Keefer-Norris of Old York and the MLK Committee, who initiated these projects. “It will be a ‘day on, not a day off’ as part of a nationwide service program to honor Dr. King’s life and teachings,” she added.
The mass baking effort will begin at 1 p.m. in the Remick Barn on Lindsay Road, and the letter writing will be held at the York Library off of Long Sands Road at the same time.
More than 20 non-profit organizations are participating in the day’s events. Volunteers can choose whatever project most interests them – for the Maine soldiers, at the York Community Services Thrift Shop, York Hospital, or others.
Other non-profits will have informational booths during the morning program to be held at the York High School. They include the 4-H Club, Center for Wildlife, the York Schools’ Civil Rights Teams, ELKS Lodge, Think Again, Hospice of York, Caring Unlimited, the York Art Association and others.
The Day of Service begins at 9:30 a.m. at the York High School with a performance by seventh grade students led by musical artist Randy Armstrong and a performance by Jasmine Shah’s Indian Dance troupe. An inspiring keynote address will by given by Richard Haynes on his experience as an African-American artist. A Community Service Fair will showcase the area’s various non-profit organizations.
Both children and adults can then spend the afternoon on the specific service projects.
People and/or groups are encouraged to register by sending an email to or through Facebook (MLK Day of Service: York), or by calling 207.752.0843.