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.