Jeff Daignault of Adams Plumbing and Heating and Michael Tesoro, owner of Ooma Tesoro's, inspected the utilities in the kitchen on Thursday to see if the former middle school could be a place Tesoro could move his company.
ADAMS, Mass. — A pasta sauce company and the Youth Center are both inquiring about leasing space in the former Adams Memorial Middle School.
The owner of Windsor-based Ooma Tesoro's and Youth Center officials attended a tour of the school to see if areas of the Columbia Street building could suit their needs. Center officials said they will definitely be submitting a proposal and Michael Tesoro, owner of Ooma Tesoro's, said the school is one of only a few locations that he is looking at to expand his business.
"We're very excited for this opportunity," Edmund St. John IV, vice president of the Youth Center, said touring the school with Director Sonia DeSanti. "We'd like to use this as a home for the Youth Center to provide education, a safe environment and recreation for the youth of Adams."
The Youth Center needs to move out of its East Road building now that the Council on Aging, with which it shared the building, has been moved to the Adams Visitors Center. The middle school space provides more room for the organization to grow its programming, St. John said.
St. John said he had been in talks with Town Administrator Jonathan Butler about using the school. When the town found no interest from private developers to purchase the entire school last winter, it switched directions to focus on short-term leases while preparing to make the capital improvements needed to save the building.
"There is no reason this building needs to be mothballed," Butler said on Thursday.
The school's been "broken" into three sections, two of which were advertised for lease proposals. The administrative offices, gymnasium and auditorium is zone A, which is what the youth center is eyeing; and zone B is the kitchen and cafeteria, where Ooma Tesoro's interest lies. The classrooms are not being put out for lease in anticipation that they would eventually be demolished, Butler said, but added that he would entertain proposals for uses there.
"The creation of jobs will be given priority and community use will be given priority," Butler said of the available spaces.
Youth Center officials Sonia DiSanti and Edmund St. John IV looked at the main level space for a possible move for the youth center.
The two entities that toured the building appear to provide those opportunities. The gym and auditorium would still be available for community use because the town would prefer to keep those spaces for use and ideally would not be included in the square-foot lease agreement. St. John said the center would welcome other community groups into the space.
Tesoro is looking to grow his business. He currently rents a commercial kitchen and but wants to create his own point of production. While Tesoro makes his marinara sauce himself, he said he would be hiring additional people to help with the jarring and preparing ingredients with the growth of his company.
"We need to figure out how to continue to grow," Tesoro said. "[The school] is one of a few places in Berkshire County I'm actively looking at."
Tesoro started the sauce-making company in 2009 out of his Windsor home and the product — his grandmother's recipe — is now sold in 210 stores across New England, including Guidos Fresh Market and Wild Oats locally and Whole Foods and other specialty stores outside of the area.
"I learned how to make the sauce growing up," he said. When he and his wife were looking for additional income, they decided to sell the sauce at local farmers' markets. "It's a very simple but flavorful sauce."
A large portion of his market is outside of Boston but he travels as far north as Belfast, Maine, and as far east as Martha's Vineyard, he said.
With the company growing quickly, a new kitchen is needed. However, being a commercial enterprise, the company will need to ensure that the kitchen is FDA approved and meets all state health standards as well as provide the space and utilities needed.
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