Laurel Emery prepares the base for the salad bowl in a biodegradable container. The restaurant seats about 40 and offers eat in or takeout.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Five days in, manager Laurel Emery is confident that Bowlin' on the River will be a success.
"I can tell we're doing well because we have repeat customers already," she laughed.
The restaurant, located in the former Brewhaha space on Marshall Street, opened for business last Friday. Right now, it's open from 11 to 4 seven days a week and offers n build-your-own salads, beverages and specialty coffees, including a nitro cold-brew, although Emery says it plans to expand in hours and offerings as it goes along.
"We're trying to get a core menu down," she said. "We're really experimenting and seeing what people like ... what's being received well ... We'll continuously make adjustments to our food offerings."
The menu starts with a takeout box for eat-in or takeout with a base of udon noodles, quinoa or spring lettuce. Patrons can then chose proteins, vegetables, salads, and fruits at 50 cents to $1.50, not unlike ordering pizza toppings.
Emery says the concept is somewhat based on Sweetgreen and Chopt, neither of which have locations anywhere near North Adams. That's the bowl; the river is, of course, the Hoosic that runs through the city and not far from Marshall Street.
"We really just want to bring healthy, fast, fun food to North Adams," she said. "That's what it boils down to ... fun, fast, friendly."
The three Fs motto comes from Nick Demarais, another employee who eagerly explained the process for nitro brew coffee — take cold brew coffee and inject nitrogen into it creating a sudsy, non-bitter liquid with the look of Guinness. Behind the counter, Ryan Shook was ready to take orders.
The current offerings are a mix of Southern favorites, simple fruits and traditional meat and salads that are also suitable for vegans or vegetarians, with a few bakery items. The goal is to add soups and more selections for the salad bar and bakery items and gradually expand the hours toward morning and dinner time (it is approved for 7 to 9).
Emery jokes that this the latest in David York's empire, and she's not far off. The Atlanta businessman arrived in the area a year or so ago and lighted on North Adams as the home for his Museum of Dog, a paean to man's best friends and his own love of dogs and art.
York broke canine ground with his Barking Hound Village, among the first high-end, doggie day-care facilities, with locations in two states. But he's also been involved in real estate and the food business, first opening a cafe with his sisters in Missouri that grew to 30 locations and then lunch and bakery spot Sophie's Uptown, named for his beloved spaniel, in Atlanta. He also plans to operate a couple of food trucks in the North Adams area.
He lured Emery — who laughs easily — from Atlanta to run his latest eatery. "I was looking for some change and he said, 'why don't you come up here? So I did," she said.
The city dweller says she's taken with the slower pace and non-existent traffic (relative to the busy highways of Atlanta) of the North Berkshires.
"It's like refreshing and lovely to be in a new place," she said.
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