Trillium: A Moveable Feast

The couple behind Trillium, Midcoast’s celebrated catering company, knows how to bring the party home
Words By Allison Paige
Photos By Nicole Wolf

When your business is other people’s pleasure, sometimes all you want to do is get away from it all. That was the impetus behind the purchase of the remote, pondside Lincolnville home of Abigale Avey and Michael Casby, the duo behind Trillium Caterers, in Belfast. “We needed a respite,” explains Abigale. “Our lives were incredibly busy. Sometimes we’re working 21 days ina row. We’re working 70, 80 hours a week.”

Relaxation and solitude were high on the menu when they spied a listing for a small home on Coleman Pond. They “stalked” it, Abigale jokes, writing a letter to the owner with their offer. A native Californian, she was inspired by the home’s midcentury lines. The low profile and shed roof reminded her of Sea Ranch, a planned community in Northern California, with clean, windswept, minimalist vibes.

Abigale, Michael, and Greta. “She’s very motivated by food, which I guess is appropriate for two caterers,” jokes Abigale.

The couple maintained an apartment in Belfast, 10 minutes from Trillium’s storefront, and, during the busy season, made it to the new digs whenever they could. “We little-by-little began to make improvements,” recalls Abigale. Countertops and appliances were replaced, stairs were built to lead down to the water, and a list of improvements grew. “We kind of retreated out here after COVID hit,” she continues. “That’s really when this became our primary residence and started to feel more and more like home.”

This go-with-the-flow ethos feels true to the couple, who met in New York City's Lower East Side at a post-shift wine bar and wound up in Maine through sheer kismet. That, and a really irresistible bunch of arugula

The interior is untreated hemlock, a crisp inner envelope to the black-painted exterior. The space is a quiet mix of natural wood, black, white, and tan with accents of red courtesy of Persian and Mexican rugs. The couple gravitates toward minimalism, but doesn’t adhere to it slavishly. “We’re very fortunate in that, as a pairing, we can’t stand clutter,” Abigale shares. “Everything is back where it belongs at the end of every day.”

Such order is a necessity when space is at a premium. While snug, the 936-square-foot one-bed, one-bath home is the perfect amount of space for the couple and their Rhodesian Ridgeback, Greta. Friend and local builder Dan Greely was enlisted to help realize some expansion. By removing a wall separating the sunroom from the living area, they opened up the whole home to the serene water view. “It sort of brings the outside in,” Michael notes.“Over time, Dan started to really understand our aesthetic,” says Abigale. “We make a lot of decisions in real time. Like, he’s got a wall ready and says: ‘Okay, I’m gonna put in this window. Where do you want it?’ And I can just be like, ‘There–a little bit to the left.’”

This go-with-the-flow ethos feels true to the couple, who met in New York City’s Lower East Side at a post-shift wine bar and wound up in Maine through sheer kismet. That, and a really irresistible bunch of arugula. As Abigale tells it, while visiting friends on Islesboro, they were served a truly transcendental salad. Eager to know the source of the greens, a friend pointed themto Chase’s Daily, a farm-shop-restaurant in Belfast. So, instead of making a left and heading back south, they made a right that took them Downeast.

Organic Italian sparkling wine pairs beautifully with fresh Pemaquid oysters.
A vintage coupe makes an alfresco cocktail feel extra festive.
In the dining area, picture windows from Andersen welcome in views of Coleman Pond and the surrounding woods.

Fast-forward a bit, and Abigale was working for the well-established Trillium catering company,which she and Michael bought from the original owner, Karen Ruth, in 2013.When entertaining is in your blood, the party often follows you home. Despite diminutive quarters, one senses a lively abundance in their home, where often as not, friends are tucking intoone of their delicious creations. “We used to have this thing our friends called ‘Sunday Service,’” Michael shares. “It’s the only day that we typically have off in the summer, and also the only time we could see our friends. We wanted to do something meaningful, and we were always putting all this effort into these big, impressive meals. But over time, as we’ve gotten older and our friends have gotten older and busier and had kids, everybody’s expectations are more centered around time spent together.”

“Exactly,” says Abigale. “It’s more about us having time spent together as opposed to putting a lot of effort into a big, lavish spread.” Relaxed meals might include odds and ends retrieved fromTrillium’s walk-in refrigerator, paired with some meat thrown on the grill and elevated with a creative libation by Michael, who honed his mixology skills at Maialino in New York City’s Gramercy Park Hotel. And while they enjoy throwing fancy parties for friends–everyone gussied up in their finest clothes–“we’re comfortable phoning it in with this group as well. It might be hotdogs and oysters,” Michael quips.

Abigale, Michael, and Greta gather with friends on the dock overlooking Coleman Pond.

Thanks to their thoughtful renovations, the outdoors feels like a natural extension of the space. Coleman Pond makes a welcoming spot, and the couple are just as likely to have you over for a dockside cocktail in the summer as they are to invite you skating in the winter. “We have moonlight skating parties,” Abigale shares. “We’re committed to loving the seasons, year-round.” (A newly added sauna is also a perk!) “There was a lot of luck and serendipity and timing that sort of manifested in where we are now,” Abigale surmises happily. “We could have turned left but we turned right and wound up in Belfast.”

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