NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — It's been five years but local favorite Desperados is back. The Mexican restaurant will reopen downtown on Monday.
After purchasing the 23 Eagle St. location in September, owner David Atwell only has to wait for a few more permits and a little fine tuning before opening to the public.
"Monday we did a meet and greet with some of my vendors, some people from town, City Hall and friends and family to show them what we did to the place," Atwell said on Wednesday. "We'll have a soft opening to the public on Monday, Tuesday at the latest."
Confident the final licenses will be approved in the next couple of days, Atwell expects to fire up the kitchen this weekend. The North Adams location will feature the same menu as the one in the Colonial Shopping Center in Williamstown. It will be open Monday through Thursday 11 a.m. until 10 p.m. and 11 a.m. until 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. It will be closed on Sundays.
Atwell previously said that his first North Adams attempt, on Ashland Street, failed partly because of rental costs. This time, he owns it. Atwell closed with Legacy Bank to purchase the 4,200-square-foot property and its contents for $156,000 in September.
Despite taking over a location that has hosted a string of failed businesses, most recently The Alley which shut down abruptly in January, Atwell expects to stay for a long time.
"We've got 19 years of history in Williamstown so we finally got it right," Atwell said. "It's a small place, easy to manage and we've got a good following in North Adams. We expect to be in this location for a long time."
Atwell also said being one of the few Mexican dining places in the county will help him succeed where others have not.
CHARLEMONT, Mass. — The grill's getting fired up at the Warfield House Inn after being cold for nearly three years.
Pam Gerry, one of the managers, said the restaurant's reopening will take advantage of a lot of the activity taking place along the rivers and mountains in the area.
"With the new zip line and the kayaking, there's a lot going on here," said Gerry. "We had reason to reopen it."
The restaurant has a full bar and wine list and two dining rooms overlooking Berkshire East and some of the 530 acres of Valley View Farm. It's about a half-hour drive from North Adams.
The kitchen wasn't completely closed since the inn has continued to serve functions such as weddings and parties. Warfield and the farm host "Your Wedding Your Way" with overnight accommodations in the seven rooms at the bed & breakfast at the Main House and Whippoorwill Lodge's five bedrooms.
The farm has an outdoor pavilion that can hold 200 guests, gardens and gazebo for a wedding ceremony. It includes a water garden, maple house, antique sawmill and a functioning farm with horses, cows, chickens, llamas, goats and ducks, along with Mollie, the farm's border collie.
Gerry said the restaurant's new Chef Adrian hails from Georgia and brings old-fashioned Southern barbecue to the New England setting along with an emphasis on local produce from the farm, including meat and dairy.
"We are looking forward to having the restaurant open again," she said. "It needs some loving and people to get it alive again."
The grand opening will be held on Friday, June 4, at 5. Hours are Fridays from 5 to 9, Saturdays from 11 to 9 and Sundays from 10 to 3.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — John LeVardi worked the cash register before rushing out the door for a delivery. Jason Boucher handled a stream of orders while telling his employees that they were doing a good job.
It was a busy lunchtime rush on Wednesday in the newly-opened That's a Wrap location at 60 Spring St., but the store's co-owners, Boucher and LeVardi, had everything under control. The new store, which opened on Tuesday, April 27, isn't the first business endeavor for either man; Boucher owns a That's a Wrap corporate franchise with locations in Pittsfield and Dalton, and LeVardi runs Krispy Cones Soft Serve Ice Cream in Lanesborough.
That's a Wrap, which specializes in sandwiches and wraps, also offers salads, soups, smoothies, a breakfast menu and catering services. Customers can sit down, order to-go or request a delivery.
The eatery distinguishes itself from other sandwich shops with a mission to provide a healthy, fast-food alternative. Judging by its steady flow of customers Wednesday afternoon, the word has spread quickly.
"We have a real good product, so I think that sells itself," LeVardi said.
"We're working to service the people of Williamstown," he added. "It's a beautiful location. It's real nice around here."
Jason Boucher, left, and John LeVardi recently opened their third That's a Wrap chain in Berkshire County, popping up on Spring Street in Williamstown.
Fourteen-year-old Sarah Apkin is a student at Pine Cobble School, which had a half-day on Wednesday. She went straight from school, lacrosse stick and all, to That's a Wrap — her second visit in the eight days since its opening.
"I'm familiar with the [franchise] because my mom went to the one in Pittsfield, and she said it was really good," Apkin said. "So once I found out about this one, I wanted to try it."
As a member of Pine Cobble's lacrosse team, Apkin seeks a diet that matches her athletic lifestyle.
"I had the chicken pesto flatbread," she said. "I think [That's a Wrap] is healthier [than other sandwich shops]. It's more original and it's fresher."
Kate Stephens, a senior at Williams College, was making her first trip to the eatery after hearing positive reviews from her friends. Like Apkin, Stephens was drawn to That's a Wrap because of its focus on freshness. A resident of Spring Street, she was delighted to see a new business in her neighborhood.
"It's good to not have another empty storefront on Spring Street," she said.
Boucher, who also runs the catering service at the North Adams Country Club, has been pleasantly surprised with business thus far, saying that the numbers have doubled their original projections.
"We're new, so we expected to be busy," he said. "But not this busy."
Boucher and LeVardi have interest in expansion and will be looking to open new stores in the Northampton/Amherst and Albany/Saratoga, N.Y., areas.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Mezze Restaurant Group announced Wednesday that the Mezze Bistro + Bar will open for business at its new 777 Cold Spring Road location on Monday, June 7.
The restaurant will be open at its current 16 Water Street location through Sunday, May 16, then it will be closed for two weeks to complete the transition into the new space. Mezze Restaurant Group purchased the Cold Spring Road property, which was previously Jae's Inn, in April 2009. Since the purchase, interior and exterior renovations have been made to the building in keeping with sustainable building practices.
“The Cold Spring Road property aligns our values and mission with the greater goal of food as culture,” said Nancy Thomas, co-owner of Mezze Restaurant Group along with Bo Peabody. “This move allows us to better put into practice our farm-to-table mission and our relationship to the environment."
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Peter Harrison likes to talk almost as much as he likes to cook.
He's the first one to admit it.
"Even the telemarketers are like 'hey, we've got to get going now.' That's how I am," Harrison said. "Even the Jehovah's Witnesses, they're like 'you know what, we've got to go.'"
Harrison, 46, of Pittsfield, is taking his two favorite pastimes — preparing food and socializing — and turning them into his first business venture. If visits from the health and fire inspectors go smoothly this week, he'll open Poppy's Deli on May 11. Located at 240B Main Street in the Colonial Shopping Plaza, the deli fills the space previously held by Angelina's Subs, which was evicted last month after failure to pay its bills.
Peter Harrison is realizing his restaurant dreams with the opening of Poppy's Deli in the Colonial Shopping Plaza.
Harrison will offer a menu similar to Angelina's while adding his own unique touch. He'll expand the deli case with an assortment of salads and casseroles, and he'll sell home-meal replacements such as vegetables and starches, along with breakfast items.
"This is a working man's place. We've got a big parking lot with a lot of trucks coming in," he said. "I want to keep the hamburgers, the hot dogs, steak and cheese. I'll make anybody anything; if I got the ingredients and you ask me for it, I'll make it for you."
Perhaps just as important as fulfilling the customer's hunger, Harrison also wants to make Poppy's a place to engage in lively conversation.
"That'd be another [career] I'd like to have is be an interviewer," he said. "Not like giving job interviews, but to sit behind a desk like [David] Letterman. I get to know everything about everyone.
"As much as I'm here for myself, I'm here to see who's going to come through the door and say hello. I want to be as much a part of the community as possible, where people want to come in and say hello just as much as they want to come in and get a sandwich."
Harrison has been toying with the idea of opening his own business for the last 10 years. His love for the culinary arts was invigorated years back while learning under chef Rico Deluca at the Seven Hills Inn located in Lenox. Harrison has since worked at the Love Dog Cafe and Canyon Ranch, both in Lenox, and at Helen's Place in Williamstown.
Along the way, he has learned all the ins and outs of the restaurant business, which eventually prompted the search for an establishment of his own.
"It doesn't matter where you work, you've always got to be prepared and be ready," Harrison said. "You can feed 1,000 people if you're ready. If you're not ready, it's hard to feed 10. Even to cook for your family, to cook for four people, that's a lot of work."
When Angelina's went out of business in March, Harrison saw a prime location up for grabs. And he's been a welcomed addition to the shopping plaza.
"He's marvelous," Sherri Thompson, owner of Avon, which is located next to Poppy's Deli, said. "He'll be a lot of fun to have next door. I just wish it was open already, so we'd have some good food to eat."
As for the name Poppy's Deli, Harrison said it came from his 6-year-old grandson, Evan, who started calling Harrison "Poppy."
And it will be all Poppy, at least for a while. Harrison will be a one-man staff until he decides that more help is needed.
"I've got all those restaurant owners I used to work for to thank because they left me alone in their restaurants," he said. "I'm confident I can do it."
Poppy's hours of operation will be every Tuesday and Wednesday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thursday and Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.