CUMMINGTON, Mass. — The transition of the Old Creamery in Cummington to a community-owned cooperative grocery store took a giant leap forward this month with Florence Savings Bank's commitment to provide necessary outside financing.
Thanks to the bank's commitment, just one more fundraising task remains before the Old Creamery Co-op can purchase the business. In a drive to raise a total of $285,000 in member-owner loans or additional gifts — the final financing component — three community members have challenged the greater co-op community by promising $25,000 if member-owners pledge an additional $75,000 by the end of the month.
If this challenge is met, the co-op will be able to purchase the business and proceed with renovations to the store and grounds, and finish the last of the fundraising during this year. Of the needed $285,000 in member-owner loans and gifts, $135,000 has been raised already.
"We are excited to be providing the financing support for the Old Creamery Cooperative project in Cummington," said John Heap, president of Florence Savings Bank. "We are also looking forward to serving our Hilltown customers with ATM service at the Creamery when the renovations are completed. The Creamery has been part of the Hilltown community for more than 100 years and we are happy to play a role in building the financial foundation for the next hundred."
Financing for the project, including acquisition, construction, and a capital credit line, is being provided by Florence Savings Bank.
"The vibrant cultural heart of the Hilltowns is the Old Creamery in Cummington," said Rachel Maddow, MSNBC host, author of the best seller "Drift," and a Hilltowns resident. "It is my favorite retail establishment in the entire universe."
The Creamery, in turn, has created a sandwich called the "The Spicy Maddow" to honor the well-known supporter of the co-op.
"The Old Creamery is one of the most values-based and community-oriented businesses I have ever known," said co-op member and longtime Creamery cook and baker Emmy Howard. "I feel very fortunate to be able to work and shop at a business that is able to hold service to the community and environmental awareness as guiding principles. Because the community, in turn, supports the Creamery, it is able to remain a viable business that continues to give back to the community. If this sounds circular, it is, and that is the beauty of the Old Creamery and its community."
To learn more about the creation of the Old Creamery Cooperative, visit www.OldCreamery.coop.
Submitted by Bill Latimer, communications coordinator for Old Creamery Cooperative
Riverbend Cafe Serves Up Healthy Fare
By: Nichole Dupont On: 09:48AM / Thursday December 30, 2010
Riverbend Cafe, dares her customers to try something new and healthy.
GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — Lindsey Tuller's got a good thing going and she knows it.
For the last eight years, the 31-year-old owner of the Riverbend Cafe (formerly Uncommon Grounds) at 403 Stockbridge Road has been serving up organic coffee, vegan biscotti and specialty smoothies to customers looking for a healthier food experience. And for eight years, they keep coming back for more. The secret to her success, she said, is not being afraid to try something new.
"I get a lot of suggestions from customers and from my employees. I take their input seriously," she said.
The cafe offers up several specialty fair trade coffees.
As a result of that input and of Tuller's own food sense, the cafe has become a hotspot for tourists, locals and passers through. The menu includes 20 different homemade smoothies geared toward every taste, Fair Trade organic coffee beverages, hearty sandwiches on bread made in-house, a full breakfast menu and a children's menu that includes the classic Peanut Butter, Banana and Honey Sandwich.
"We really get everybody in here," Tuller said. "We definitely get more of a family crowd, but we also get the construction guys. At first they come in here and kind of make fun of each other for ordering, especially the soy meats. I guarantee them that they will like the breakfast sandwich with soy sausage, and they always do. It's about trying something new."
In addition to the breakfast sandwich, which is "affordable and fills you up," the menu also includes baked goods, all of which are made on the premises.
"We now do all of our own baking. All of our flours are organic, the bread is homemade, there is no butter in any of our cooking," she said. "We do try to cater a little bit more to the vegans as far as our bakery items go. I don't think any other cafe does what we do."
And does it well. Tuller said the Riverbend is solely reliant on its local clientele to keep the place hopping. Art, statuary and good food make Riverbend home to a diverse crowd of skiers, writers, builders and, most importantly, area residents.
Art, statuary and good food make Riverbend home to a diverse crowd of skiers, writers, builders and most importantly, locals.
"The summer crowd makes it doable, but we are only here because of the regulars," she said. "In July and August a lot of our customers go into hiding and they return right after Labor Day. They get their coffee, their sandwiches; they buy pounds of coffee and get gift certificates for their teenage kids. I have one customer, he's from South Africa, and he's here every day at 7:30 in the morning waiting for us to open up. That says a lot."
The family atmosphere, according to Tuller, is a natural offshoot of the atmosphere surrounding the Riverbend staff itself.
"It's hard to stay inspired in this business. I rely on my employees to keep me inspired. I need them to tell me what I'm not seeing," she said. "We call each other family. We are a family."
Tuller's place at the head of the family table was hard-earned. At 23, she bought the business (that she managed for two years prior to the sale) and became an instant entrepreneur. While most people were supportive of her endeavor, Tuller said she would have done a few things differently.
"For the first four years, I wish I'd asked for more support. I learned that over the years," she said. "A lot of business owners, especially women, have come forward and given me things that they think I need and that's been great. This isn't the kind of business that will pay you while you're not here. I'm not a vacationer. I'm here, every day, right alongside my employees. I'm in it."
The Riverbend Cafe is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and weekends from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call 413-528-0858.
Richard Bourdon's legendary baking ability has put Berkshire Mountain Bakery on Bon Appetit's top 10 list.
GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — Berkshire Mountain Bakery has been a main staple (literally) of South County’s "foodie" life for nearly 35 years. According to owner and bread master Richard Bourdon, each of those years has been dedicated to perfecting that art of good bread and bringing good food to the world.
Bourdon's near scientific perfection of the sourdough process has earned the bakery impressive mention in the January 2011 volume of Bon Appetit magazine. Berkshire Mountain Bakery, along with nine other bakeries nationwide, shares the distinction of being among the"Top 10 Best Bakeries in America." Of course, if you ask Bourdon about the honor, he just smiles and brushes his flour-covered hands across his apron.
"I was surprised, of course I was surprised," he said. "It's good; I'll take it. I'm always up for another adventure."
Bourdon's own adventures have carried him from Ville-Marie in Quebec to Amsterdam and finally, in 1985, to the Berkshires. When the bakery first started up, Bourdon spent several months perfecting the fermentation process that he had taken for granted in Europe. The challenge; a new set of U.S. born ingredients, including wheat.
"I'm good at troubleshooting," he said. "I've been doing this for a long time; I know when I see something going on. A lot of people [bakers] call me for advice. I bring it out there to help. It's endless hours making bread."
While bread is still the focus of the bakery, Bourdon said he has been venturing out into other baked goods and pastries, which he sells only from the Housatonic location (and at the summer farmers' markets). The result of his efforts is a mouth-watering array of artisan cakes, breads and pastries that tend to fly off of the shelves, especially around the holidays.
"My goal is to keep a little more money here in the house," he said. "That way I can provide a more luxurious product; we don't ever cut corners. I have room to move."
As customers crowd the tiny front shelf of the bakery exclaiming over the rich panettone and holiday bread, it is hard to imagine a time when Bourdon was not rushing from the kitchen to cash register, his arms always laden with baguettes, sunny flax, ciabatta and even a little Stollen. Here's to another 35 years of perfection.
By the way, you cannot live one more day of your life without trying the apple cake. Better hurry, it may only be a holiday whim.