ADAMS, Mass. — It was a serendipitous encounter that brought two Adams natives together to begin a culinary collaboration in their hometown.
William Kolis and Shane Morris spent decades out of the area before feeling compelled to return to the Mother Town. Now, they plan to contribute their community development and restaurant experience in the form of the Firehouse Cafe, which opened today, Monday.
Kolis initially eyed the property — which housed a fire station, then an ambulance service before being converted into an eatery — for development over a decade ago, but deemed Adams "dormant" until now. Kolis worked in community development in the early 1980s after graduating from law school and now practices environmental and personal injury law with a large Ohio firm.
As cliché as it sounds, he said, he has been yearning to give back to his hometown.
"I like to look at this building here as the two front teeth of this side of [Park Street]," he said. "It's the reason I bought the building. Seeing what was going on here made what was, at one time would have been, a questionable investment into a probable success."
After purchasing the historic building in 2011, a 40th class reunion led Kolis into a conversation with a member of the reunion committee, Morris' aunt, about his ambitions for creating a restaurant in the space. This got the aunt to thinking about her nephew, whom she hadn't spoken with for 23 years. That in turn sparked the introduction between Kolis and Morris, the designing of a new eatery and full confidence in its potential success two years later.
Morris migrated back to his hometown after spending almost 20 years in the Pacific Northwest, where he ran a cafe in Seattle that generated seven-figure revenues. He had been to all of the art galleries and sporting events as many times as he could have liked, he said, leading to a longing for a life outside of an urban setting.
"I had just gotten tired of living in the city. You can only be around that so often, before you just want something a little quieter," he said.
Formerly Gringos Firehouse Cafe, the new restaurant is slated to be quite different from its previous incarnations, based on the alterations in its concept made by Morris, the general manage, whose vision of its atmosphere was from his personal inspirations.
Constructed in 1890, the building was originally the station for the town's volunteer fire department, which helps define the interior's red and black color concept and items such as a fire hydrant at the rear of the dining room and vintage ladder hanging from the ceiling.
A fish aquarium and six flat-screen televisions projecting rotating images are flare that Morris created, additions not necessarily inspired by the building's beginnings.
"We're trying to make it so that the average person in Adams can come in, sit down and enjoy a wonderful meal," said Kolis. "We're hoping that people who come in from out of town will go away saying, 'I found this marvelous place in Adams, of all places.'"
Bill Kolis, Erica Hansen, Joe Henderek and Shane Morris are the new team at the Firehouse Cafe.
The Firehouse menu is as eclectic as its decor, offering a selection of American cuisine that the group claims cannot be found nearby. Entree items range in price from $11 to $16, including cuts of swordfish steak and a salmon dish rather than traditional fish-and-chips plates.
Sandwiches like a pulled pork and a stuffed burger are simply priced at $10 apiece, served with red dill potato salad and a half pickle. Daily soup specials are served on a seven-day rotation, so you know to expect: portabella beef barley on Tuesdays, Cajun black bean shrimp with rice on Fridays and red pepper and smoked gouda on Saturdays, for instance. A signature white bean chicken chili is the fixed option on the menu, all of which are priced at $4 a helping.
The most unique portion of the menu may be its selection of omelets. Despite opening at 11am daily, the cafe offers the egg dish regularly, served with shoestring hash browns and a fresh fruit garnish, with toppings like black beans, cilantro, sour cream and avocado for its Southwestern version and pepperoni, homemade marinara, Italian seasoning and mozzarella as an Italian offering.
A loaded menu of salad include items like pear, alfalfa sprouts and asparagus in different choices that can be paired with any of the day's soups.
With a combined 28 years of culinary experience, Erica Hansen and Joe Henderek are co-head chefs who share a passion for food service encapsulated in a simple credo.
"It's integrity, service and food: that's all we're really looking at. So, you can't have good food without having good integrity; you can't have good service without having people that are honest, straightforward; and that's kind of what we're pushing for. We're going to be, hopefully, a beacon of downtown Adams in the years to come," Henderek said.
The establishment will employ between 10 and 12 people to begin with; in warmer weather when foot traffic takes hold, the eatery will open to outdoor dining and increasing staffing to about 15.
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