Tom Sigler said he and his wife Lisa Laurita-Spanglet have been "eying" the space at 31 Elm St. in Camden for "a long time." The Rockland couple's patience paid off, and the space became vacant in November. On Feb. 7 they opened Comida Latin Kitchen after completely renovating the interior space.

"We did it entirely ourselves, we made the tables, we built out the banquets," said Sigler of the restaurant's 26-seat interior. The banquet cushions, he added, were custom made by an Ellsworth seamstress and the walls are decorated with vintage posters and reclaimed objects.

"It's funky and that's what we're going for," he said.

An adjacent patio will be open during warmer months and food and beverage service will be available to patio patrons, said Sigler.

Comida currently serves dinner but the doors will open for lunch service on March 5, according to a press release from Laurita-Spanglet. In the release Laurita-Spanglet wrote that the menu at Comida is inspired by the owner's work in Latin America and Mexico.

"It's always what I've leaned towards," said Sigler of Latin-inspired cuisine.

Sigler, a native of Maryland, said he began cooking to put himself through college in South Carolina. He discovered his passion while working and studying at Clemson University.

"I was working 40 hours a week cooking and going to school, I discovered that I loved cooking more than I loved writing papers," said Sigler with a laugh.

He then left Clemson and began cooking 80 hours a week, before going on the receive a culinary arts degree from the Culinary Institute of America, he said.

Sigler said he and one other chef will share Comida's small kitchen, preparing a curated, seasonally-changing menu that reflects the Latin flavors that Sigler is drawn to.

The present menu at Comida contains around a dozen items including ensalada batabel, a beet salad with queso fresco, black radish, pepitas and and orange-cumin vinaigrette, assorted tacos, braised pork chile rellenos, a fish stew, and bistec de papas which is a marinated flat iron steak served with ancho potato hash, wilted greens and chimichurri.

House made hot sauce — aged several weeks in charred, white oak barrels — is a Comida specialty, Sigler said.

Offerings on the current menu range in price from $7 to $19, and Sigler said they intend to cap the price of their plates at $20. He explained fresh ingredients are a priority.

“We use as much locally [farmed] as we can, you start with good products and make them taste better than they already tasted,” he said.

The couple currently works with farms and purveyors including Dandelion Springs Farm in Newcastle, Jess’s Market in Rockland and Bowden Egg Farm in Waldoboro. Sigler said they also have a relationship with Hubbard Brook Farm in Unity and a local farmer who will grow produce specifically for Comida.

“He has a greenhouse so we’ll have those greens in March,” Sigler said.

Laurita-Spanglet will run the front of the house and act as bookkeeper.

"She's the mastermind behind it all," Sigler said of his wife.

Comida has a full liquor license and offers a "short set" of cocktails, assorted wines by the glass or bottle and a "very eclectic list" of beers, said Sigler.

Sigler said business has been good so far. He added that neighboring businesses including Zoot Coffee and Long Grain have been very supportive of Comida. Ken and Del Paquin of Atlantica have also been very helpful to Laurita-Spanglet and Sigler.

"There has been a lot of goodwill [from the business community] which has been really cool," said Sigler.

Comida is open Tuesday through Saturday for dinner beginning at 5 p.m. Lunch service from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. will begin March 5.

Courier Publications reporter Jenna Lookner can be reached at 236-8511 or by email at