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Eat To Total Health Opening On Ashland Street
By John Durkan On: 03:50PM / Saturday December 15, 2012

Renee Tassone poses in front of the counter at her new store Eat To Total Health, located at 14 Ashland St., which is set to open Dec. 26.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Renee Tassone's business Eat To Total Health is moving from her home to 14 Ashland St. on Dec. 26.

"We can heal our bodies from everything with the right tools and it doesn't have to come from a pill," Tassone said.
Tassone drew from her own experience with Celiac disease, which is a condition that makes the body react negatively with gluten and prevents the small intestine's lining from absorbing essential food parts.
"I realized how our connection between food and health is important," Tassone said. 
The shop has two aspects — a "cleansing" program and and sales of healthy food.
Tassone said the program, which costs $30, starts with an hour-and-a-half consultation in person or by phone. She then helps the client create a program fitting to his or her goals. Tassone keeps in touch for adjustments and coaching. The program, on average, runs about three weeks, but Tassone said that many of her clients continue to eat healthy beyond the program.
"This cleanse really teaches you to eat healthy," Tassone said. "It becomes a lifestyle for people."
Her shop will sell various health foods and smoothies. The meals will be vegan and allergy free. At her home, Tassone delivered meals and smoothies to customers at their work or home. That service will continue, but now people have the option of also picking up the foods or drinks from the shop or sitting down and dining in.
Pet food will also be on sale, as well as other products such as protein powders, health books and movies, and fresh fruits and vegetables.
Tassone began consulting friends last January and the program "snowballed" from there. She consults roughly 40 people at any given time from various states as far away as Florida. Tassone said she's served about 400 people, all satisfied.
In August on her drive home from work, Tassone was excited by the prospect of selling home-cooked premade meals. She tested it out at first, posting to her Facebook what she was making and that she was taking orders. Tassone expected a couple orders, but instead ended up with more than 30. She currently serves about 100-150 meals each week. Meals typically range from $5 to $11 and she delivers as far out as Bennington, Vt., and Pittsfield.
"It kind of fell into place to open a shop," Tassone said.
When the Ashland Street location opened up, Tassone jumped at the opportunity to rent from First Congregational Church. SLC Contractors, based out of Clarksburg, is currently renovating the 700 square-foot space.
The store is located on 14 Ashland St. and will be open from Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. through 7 p.m. and on Saturday, noon to 5. For more information, check out the store's website or Facebook page.

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.

Tags: Great Barrington, cafe      
That's A Wrap A Quick Hit On Spring Street
By: Patrick Ronan On: 06:25PM / Wednesday May 05, 2010

 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.

Tags: Williamstown, That's a Wrap      
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Stephanie Farrington of Berkshire Food is contributing to our Eats blog — all about food, all the time. 


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Saturdays through Oct. 27 from 11 to 3

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Saturdays, May 11 through Oct. 26, from 9 to 1

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Fridays through September from 3 to 7

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Spring Street parking lot
Saturdays, May 25 through October, from 9 to 1

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