NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — An employee at Taylor's Steak and Seafood on Holden Street has purchased the restaurant and will make it his own in August.
Jared Decoteau has been working at the restaurant for the last two years, becoming good friends with owner Colleen Taylor. Decoteau had always wanted to run a restaurant, and when Taylor found herself and her brother and business partner Sean Taylor becoming increasingly busy with their own lives, what started as a casual conversation snowballed into a deal.
"It's a feel-good thing. It all unfolded well," Colleen Taylor, who also owns the Freight Yard Pub, said on Thursday. "It feels good and it feels right."
The transfer is pending the liquor license transfer that Decoteau expects in August. When that goes through, Taylor's will close down and Public Eat and Drink will open in the space.
"I was looking to start up a place and she was looking to unload one," Decoteau said. "It's going to be a little more casual. It'll be some smaller plates and sandwiches — a little on the lighter side."
Decoteau expects to go in front of the Planning Board on Monday for approval of his signs. He's already launched a Facebook page.
Public will feature "casual and inventive" dining with live entertainment and a late-night bar menu. Most of the current staff will be retained and the inside will be redecorated a bit, he said.
"I can't take over until the transfer is complete," Decoteau said. "There is a lot I'm still working out."
The new full-service restaurant will be open from 5 p.m. until 11:30 p.m. most days. It will be closed on Tuesday and on Sunday it will be open for brunch.
The Taylor siblings opened the restaurant in 2007, filling the vacant space that had been Gideon's. Colleen Taylor said the restaurant never went on the market because the owners had no intention to sell it immediately. And then the wheels started turning and the conversation became more serious.
"It was a good opportunity for both of us," Taylor said. "There was a seed that was planted. We weren't even looking to do that."
Decoteau said the two were casually discussing the exchange for about a year and the deal became serious. Now Decoteau will have a restaurant of his own and the Taylors get to sell the restaurant to a close friend.
"You always, someday, want to sell your restaurant," Colleen Taylor said. "We're going back to the Freight Yard Pub and square-one."
Carr Hardware is hoping to move into the former Scarafoni Ford building on State Road.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Carr Hardware is planning to relocate from its space on State Street to the former Scarafoni Ford building on State Road and Roberts Drive.
Carr President Bart Raser said on Friday that a lease has not yet been settled with landlord Scarafoni & Associates but believed a deal was close. "We're feeling positive about the opportunity but it isn't done yet."
The company will appear before the Planning Board on Monday to apply for a change-of-use permit for the State Road property.
Carr Hardware has operated out of the former Tucker Toy building for 14 years, after purchasing the 192 State St. building from what was then International Outlets in 1997.
The car lot has had a couple different dealerships, the latest being Carbone Ford, which moved to a new building in Bennington, Vt., last fall to be near Carbone's other dealerships.
According to documents on file in the city's Community Development Office, Carr will have a full-service hardware, paint, lawn and garden and rental facility in the 10,000-square-foot building.
No significant changes to the color, existing footprint or parking are planned but the garage doors will be replaced on the former automotive service area.
Details of how the store would be laid out inside.
Raser said the offerings will be similar to the Pittsfield store; the company also has locations in Great Barrington and Watervliet, N.Y.
"This will be a real full-line operation," he said. "The Curran Highway store has been very limited to paint and rental."
Carr has also formed a relationship with Agway to sell its products in the new store. The last Agway in the area closed in Williamstown in 2009 after 45 years in business.
"It will be a green goods business, with flowers and plants and pets and birds supplies, which Agway is known for," said Raser.
The State Street location has had a significant drop in revenue since work began on the Hadley Overpass in 2009, to the point that it incurred the ire of the Planning Board when it was painted a bright yellow to garner attention. The Route 2 location will make the store easily accessible to customers from both Williamstown and North Adams.
"It's a great location and allows to do what we're very good at doing," said Raser. "We do a lot of commercial business that comes from our Pittsfield store. We know our North County customers will be happy with this.
"We've been trying to do this for a while. We have to move or close."
Bisque, Beads & Beyond owner Donna Rivers at the grand opening of her Pittsfield location. Rivers may host another ribbon-cutting ceremony as she now looks to open a second storefront on Main Street in North Adams.
McClelland's Office Supply closed up its Main Street location last week after 28 years.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The empty space of McClelland's Office Supply has barely had the chance to get cold before a prospective replacement was found.
Pittsfield-based arts and crafts store Bisque, Beads and Beyond will look at the Main Street location as a possible second storefront. The company already has a store on North Street in Pittsfield but according to owner Donna Rivers, more than 30 percent of her business comes from the north.
"I've been looking at North County for five years," Rivers said on Friday. "We wouldn't be moving. This location is working well for me so we'd be opening a second store."
Rivers said she was approached by city councilors about the 85 Main St. location after the office supply store decided to close. Rivers expects to look at the site next week with David Bond, who does commercial leasing for the building's owner, Scarafoni Associates. Bond is also a city councilor.
"I think this is the type of business we need downtown," Bond said on Monday. "My goal is by the end of the year to fill all the empty spots downtown."
The crafts store had come close to a downtown location before but the deals always fell through, she said. The business requires a lot of space to accommodate its materials and many workshops at a reasonable price and McClelland's may be just right. The space previously was Apothecary Hall, once renowned for its mocha sundaes.
"I've looked a couple times under the previous administration but I couldn't put it together," Rivers said. "It's definitely a possibility. If I don't do it now, I don't know when there will be another chance."
According to Bond, the McClelland's building is 3,000 square feet - right in the range Rivers is hoping for. If Rivers likes the location, the two will negotiate a rental price, Bond said.
"We're willing to work with anyone to make the numbers work," Bond said. "We'll have an honest discussion about what the business can afford for rent and we'll set up a rent structure that would work."
Rivers said city councilors have been helpful in ushering in the possible expansion and told her the business would fit well with the city's long-term plans.
"We'd be a really good mix up there," Rivers said.
Bond said the craft store fits because it is unique, is not a competitor with the "big box stores" and brings the creative element that the city is trying to embrace.
McClelland's announced it was closing in early January, after 28 years at several locations on Main Street, and was liquidating its merchandise.
Shortly after Bond met Rivers through common friends and found out she wanted a North County location.
On Wednesday, the McClelland's lettering over the windows was scraped off. The store sold greeting cards, gifts and limited stationery and office supplies. Its store on Spring Street in Williamstown closed last year after more than 80 years in business.
Rivers opened her North Street location last July. The store offers workshops in ceramics, beading and other crafts to all ages.
Edited with more information on Feb. 26, 2011, at 2:30 p.m.
Edited with quotes from David Bond on Feb. 28, 2011 at 3:49 p.m.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Shima, the downtown children and maternity store, has expanded.
The store is nearly double the size by moving down the street to 65 Main St. The new location opened Wednesday after six weeks of painting and building shelves in preparation with 500 additional square feet of floor space, according to owners Suzy Helme and Libbie Pike.
Expansion was a year away in the owners' minds until the duo received an offer to rent the former Sports Corner location at a "good price."
"We couldn't really pass it up," Helme said.
The space was renovated by the pair with material left behind in the space, supplies they had laying around and customer donations. The store has all new shelving and a new floor.
On Wednesday a few boxes were being unpacked and the sign for the Gallery 51 annex still hung over the storefront but customers still found their way in. A small chalkboard out front advertised the new location. By the afternoon, the old sign was removed and the owners said they will soon be moving the handcrafted sign from the old location as well as building another one.
"We reused a lot of stuff from Sports Corner," Pike said.
Shima was closed Sunday through Tuesday so the owners could move. There is still some inventory that needs to be moved down the street, the owners said.
Joanne DeRose makes the acquaintance of her colleagues on the Planning Board. DeRose was appointed to replace the late Edna Rudnick.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Planning Board is awaiting a legal opinion before it continues a permit for the West End Market at 437 West Main St.
Barry Garton purchased the historic market four years ago from Charles Huberdeau, who operated a secondhand and antiques shop there, with the intention of relocating his coffeehouse Brewhaha from Marshall Street. But time and money has forced him to change his plans.
"The extent of the renovation was such that we just decided to do everything that needed to be done," said Garton. "Basically, the money that I borrowed to move there, to shut down and to buy new equipment, all got eaten up by the renovations."
Garton now wants to lease the space but is running into a two-year permit deadline that could see the commercial site revert to residential.
"I'm a little at a loss to be honest with you," Building Inspector William Meranti told the planners. "I think that in all fairness to Mr. Garton, he has been working on it and it has not been abandoned ... for that period of time."
According to the city ordinance, the variance runs out after a property has been unused or abandoned for two years. There's no spot zoning to grandfather it so it reverts to residential.
Chairman Michael Leary said it was obvious a significant amount of work has gone into the building but the board couldn't extend a permit without having the legal authority to do so, particularly not knowing who might be taking over the property or when it might happen.
He cited the 2006 permit as stating "this permit shall lapse on Oct. 16, 2006, if substantial use has not started at that time."
"It doesn't say substantial construction, it doesn't say substantial work, its says substantial use," said Leary "... the question is how does the city define substantial use?"
If the permit lapsed in 2008, the question is moot. If the permit is good throughout the "work period," even if it's four years, then the two-year deadline begins now. That would give Barton time to find a leasee for the spot.
David Babcock's last meeting was Monday. After serving on the board for more than two decades, Babcock is retiring.
"I see an art gallery or an office of some kind but the storefront would remain the same," he said, because the intent had been to maintain the historic porcelain front with the West End Market name.
Planner Wayne Wilkinson described the opinion as a "test case."
"There's a bunch of commercial buildings in North Adams that are in the exact same situation," he said. "They haven't been used in two years; their obvious only use is a commercial use."
He pointed to the former NAPA store on State Road as one example that's sitting vacant because it can no longer be used for commercial purposes because it's reverted to residential after two years being vacant. "We need to change the ordinance or come up with a new idea," he said.
The board continued the matter until its next meeting pending an opinion from the city solicitor.
The board also welcomed a new member and bid farewell to an old one.
Joanne DeRose attended her first meeting as the mayor's appointment to fill the seat held by the late Edna Rudnick. DeRose is an account executive at National Grid and member of the city Democratic Committee and the North Adams Rotary Club. Rudnick died last fall.
David Babcock ended his term on the board at 22 years, three months after asking the mayor not to reappoint him. Babcock is retiring from BerkshireWorks on Sept. 9. Leary personally thanked him for the years of service he's given the city of North Adams.
Wilkinson and Paul Senecal were selected as the nominating committee for the Feb. 14 election of officers.
:: Preliminary Election: Deadline to register is Wednesday, Sept. 7. (Office open from 8 to 8.)
:: General Election: Deadline to register is Tuesday, Oct. 18
Registration can be completed at the city clerk's office at City Hall.
Absentee ballots are now available at the city clerk's office for the Sept. 27 preliminary city election. Voters may come in between the hours of 8 and 4:30 weekdays. Written reguests for mailed ballots can be sent to City Clerk's Office, 10 Main St., North Adams, MA 01247. Deadline for absentee ballots is Monday, Sept. 26, at noon.
The preliminary election will be held Tuesday, Sept. 27, to narrow the field of three mayoral candidates to two. The general election to select nine city councilors and a mayor will be held Tuesday, Nov. 8.