Fahri Karakaya is renovating and updating the former Petrino's on Main Street and plans to reopen it as The Local cafe this spring.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Fahri Karakaya was wandering the city's downtown looking for opportunity last September when he realized something was missing.
"There was no place to really sit down, have a coffee, relax," said the West Palm Beach, Fla., transplant on Friday. Plenty of restaurants, pizza places, but no casual coffeehouse on the main drag. That, he decided, was his opportunity.
He plans on opening a cafe, The Local, with coffees, espresso, sandwiches on fresh-baked breads, light breakfast, homemade soups and some hot offerings for dinner. Karakaya described his vision as similar to a Panera.
"When you come in for coffee, you're going to smell the bagels and the fresh-baked bread," he said.
Not surprisingly, Karakaya turned to the empty Boston Store location on the corner of Holden and Main streets, a prime spot that's hosted coffeehouses and a sandwich shop over the past dozen years or so. The last in there was Petrino's, which closed in March after owner Mark Petrino took a job offer in Colorado.
That's left a hole on Main Street that Karakaya is hoping to fill.
"This is my commitment to do something nice, good service, simple, fresh food," said Karakaya, who's confidant — but still a little anxious — over this new venture.
He's got 25 years in food service, but that's managing in high-end resorts and five-star restaurants, most recently at the Breakers in Palm Beach. "There aren't many of those around here," he laughed.
Karakaya and his family moved to Williamstown earlier this year after his wife, Melahat Karakaya, took the position as innkeeper at the Porches after falling in love with the area, especially Williamstown Elementary School for their 5-year-old daughter Ece Lina.
Now he's planning to take his experience in five-star food and exemplary service and simplify it for more casual — but high quality — family friendly offerings. A comfortable cafe where people can meet and relax.
The former Petrino's will be renovated and updated with a mix of booths, couches and high tables along with the popular counter seating in the storefront window. Wi-fi will be available. The stage area in the back will be turned into a kids' zone.
"If your kids are happy, you are happy," explained Karakaya, who's considering hosting children's parties and other family gatherings. "I want to do something unique."
He said building owner Scarafoni Associates has been very helpful with his plans.
New equipment will be installed and the counters and display cases will allow customers to see and select their fare. Offerings will include coffees (light, dark, roasted, decaf and seasonal flavors), espresso, fresh fruit smoothies, salads, panini and deli sandwiches, bagels, danish, and four soups daily.
The cafe will be open seven days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Karakaya hopes to open in March.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Wild Oats Market is offering an opportunity to find out where your food comes from.
The market cooperative is planning a tour of Mighty Food Farm, a certified organic farm in Pownal, Vt., on Friday, Sept. 30, from 3 to 4:30. The Community Supported Sgriculture farm specializes in local and organic foods.
Lisa MacDougall and her crew will lead a tour of the farm's fields, barns, chickens, the CSA room and the high tunnel for growing winter CSA crops. It will conclude in the barn with cider and doughnuts and a short question-and-answer session with MacDougall, who has owned and operated Mighty Food Farm for five years.
Wild Oats purchases much of its organic produce from Mighty Food Farm, including eggplant, cabbage, carrots, melons, tomatoes, strawberries, kale, rainbow and Swiss chard, and more.
Anyone interested in learning more about organic farming in the Northeast or in visiting a small family farm is encouraged to attend. The tour is free but children younger than 12 must be accompanied by an adult.
Participants should meet at the farm at 3 p.m. It's about 8 miles north of Wild Oats and directions are available at the market's service desk or on the website.
GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — Talk about spirited growth. Berkshire Mountain Distillers produced about 30,000 bottles in 2010 and is expected to double its production this year, owner Chris Weld told ABC40.
Weld opened the distillery in 2007 at the site of the former H.H. Peck House, once known of its beneficial spring water and now for the award-winning liquors flowing out of it, including Ice Glen Vodka and Ragged Mountain Rum.
News Station ABC40 visited the distillery and talked to Weld about Berkshire Mountain's growth and its increasing profile in the spirits industry.
GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — Some people bond over martinis, others find their connection through grueling bike rides up mountains. Common denominators are rare, unless, of course, we are talking about pie. Say what you will, good tasty pie is what makes the world go 'round. Political differences are forgotten, screaming children are placated and "piece" is enjoyed by all.
At least, this is what happened at the first-ever "Anything Goes Pie Contest," held on Sunday at the Route 7 Grill.
More than 40 entrants, including crust novices and meringue extraordinaires, tried their hand at sweet and savory to the delight of tasters and judges. The delicious desserts made their home under a tent, where folks of all ages and walks of life – writers, grandmothers, sunburnt toddlers – lingered over strawberry chiffon, vegan sweet potato and triple ginger like kids in a candy store. The contest coordinator, Gina Hyams, author of the recently released "Pie Contest in a Box" (Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC, 2011), stood amidst a flurry of pies and sharpies, signing books and handing out judging cards for all who wanted a little taste of Berkshire heaven.
While the stakes were not high for the entrants, the contest itself supported more than just local taste buds. Proceeds from the contest (each person who would judge the pies was asked to make a donation of $5 or $10) went toWBCR-97.7, Great Barrington's local and very diverse radio station. More than $700 was raised for the station and according to station manager Paul Rapp, "a new Berkshire tradition was in the making." Good news for everyone as they waited with bated breath to dig into the pies and begin the judging.
Once Hyams gave the go-ahead, the hovering, chattering crowd became a silent, well-oiled machine, each taster intent on the task of finding the pies they had chosen to judge and letting the flavors of chocolate, ricotta, cherry and even beets, roll around on their tongues before making that final decision.
What a tough decision it was, too. I elected to try five very different pies. Amidst the swirl of sweet and savory and tart and syrupy it was difficult to pinpoint my "favorite." The judging categories ranged from 1-Inedible to 10-Sublime, and I can assure you my clean plate was a testament to the "feasibility" of eating every pie without prejudice. Having myself made a pie for the contest, I could taste the hard work, nostalgia and generosity that went into creating each delectable disk.
But, all good things must come to an end and all contests must eventually have a winner. This pie-for-all was no exception. Third place went to Kilian and Tiernan Ramer (a very young brother and sister team) for their no-bake Butter Hazelnut Chocolate Pie. Second was swept up by Amy Rudnick for her Sour Cherry Almond Streussel Pie. The grand pie queen of the day was another young contestant, Liv Korth, for her Chocolate Raspberry Pie. Each winner received a custom-made apron from MoHo Designs.
Of course, the best part, aside from watching a bunch of kids "take the cake" in the winner's circle, was watching everyone go back for more once the judging ended. By the end of the afternoon, most of the entries were reduced to crumbs and memories. A community radio station walked away with the reassurance that the show would go on and all of us walked away with a smile, most to steal a quick cat nap and dream of pie.