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MediTerra In North Adams Closed for Winter

Staff Reports

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The MediTerra restaurant closed abruptly in mid-November after revamping its menu for a third time.

A sign recently appeared in the window stating the restaurant was only closed for the winter and would re-open next April, and encouraging patrons to try its sister restaurant in Williamstown.

Owner Fahri Karakaya responded to queries from patrons on Facebook that it was difficult to run the North Adams location during the winter.

"We invested quite a bit there, we will be open in April," he wrote. "Unfortunately, winter business doesn't pay the expenses and keeping close[d] is less cost for us. Hope you understand the reason from the business perspective."

The restaurant had also closed in October during the opening of Karakaya's new Pera Mediterranean Bistro on Spring Street in Williamstown. It had been the site of Mayor Richard Alcombright's victory party on Nov. 5, and his campaign kickoff last spring.

The location at the corner of Holden and Main street has housed four eateries since Appalachian Bean shut its doors nearly a decade ago  (the spot used to be part of the Boston Store). A second coffee shop, Cup & Saucer, operated there from 2006 until closing in 2009; next was Petrino's, which transformed it into a sandwich shop but closed after barely a year.

Karakaya made plans to renovate and reopen the spot about six months later as The Local, offering similar fare as Petrino's but seeking to be more Panera-like. The eatery didn't really take off and Karakaya was further hobbled by red-tape delays in getting a beer and wine license, which his nearby competitors had.

The eatery went through a couple different chefs and managers, reopening as MediTerra last June with more focus on the Mediterrean dishes Karakaya grew up on and switching to a sitdown dinner atmosphere. In the meantime, he opened Pera, which by all accounts is booming.

Pera offers a similar menu as well as weekend jazz and late-night menus on Fridays and Saturdays.

North Adams diners with hankering for Mediterranean food, there's still Christo's Pizza on Holden Street.


Eat To Total Health Opening On Ashland Street

By John DurkaniBerkshires Staff

Renee Tassone poses in front of the counter at her new store Eat To Total Health, located at 14 Ashland St., which is set to open Dec. 26.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Renee Tassone's business Eat To Total Health is moving from her home to 14 Ashland St. on Dec. 26.

"We can heal our bodies from everything with the right tools and it doesn't have to come from a pill," Tassone said.
Tassone drew from her own experience with Celiac disease, which is a condition that makes the body react negatively with gluten and prevents the small intestine's lining from absorbing essential food parts.
"I realized how our connection between food and health is important," Tassone said. 
The shop has two aspects — a "cleansing" program and and sales of healthy food.
Tassone said the program, which costs $30, starts with an hour-and-a-half consultation in person or by phone. She then helps the client create a program fitting to his or her goals. Tassone keeps in touch for adjustments and coaching. The program, on average, runs about three weeks, but Tassone said that many of her clients continue to eat healthy beyond the program.
"This cleanse really teaches you to eat healthy," Tassone said. "It becomes a lifestyle for people."
Her shop will sell various health foods and smoothies. The meals will be vegan and allergy free. At her home, Tassone delivered meals and smoothies to customers at their work or home. That service will continue, but now people have the option of also picking up the foods or drinks from the shop or sitting down and dining in.
Pet food will also be on sale, as well as other products such as protein powders, health books and movies, and fresh fruits and vegetables.
Tassone began consulting friends last January and the program "snowballed" from there. She consults roughly 40 people at any given time from various states as far away as Florida. Tassone said she's served about 400 people, all satisfied.
In August on her drive home from work, Tassone was excited by the prospect of selling home-cooked premade meals. She tested it out at first, posting to her Facebook what she was making and that she was taking orders. Tassone expected a couple orders, but instead ended up with more than 30. She currently serves about 100-150 meals each week. Meals typically range from $5 to $11 and she delivers as far out as Bennington, Vt., and Pittsfield.
"It kind of fell into place to open a shop," Tassone said.
When the Ashland Street location opened up, Tassone jumped at the opportunity to rent from First Congregational Church. SLC Contractors, based out of Clarksburg, is currently renovating the 700 square-foot space.
The store is located on 14 Ashland St. and will be open from Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. through 7 p.m. and on Saturday, noon to 5. For more information, check out the store's website or Facebook page.

'Five Guys' Brings Famed Burgers & Fries to Pittsfield

By Joe DurwinPittsfield Correspondent

Customers were lined up for the debut of Five Guys' famed burgers. Writer Joe Durwin was No. 90.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Five Guys Burger and Fries opened to a steady stream of first-time lunch customers Tuesday at its new Pittsfield location at 660 Merrill Road in the Stop & Shop Plaza.

Nearly 100 customers were served in the first half-hour by a bustling staff of 15 workers. The establishment employs a total of 45, according to its manager, Tom Pierog.

"We just opened, but so far, so good," he said.

The restaurant's bright white and red interior is heavily decorated with signs advertising various awards and favorable reviews from publications areas around the country, such as the Chicago Tribune, New York Daily News, Washington Post and GQ Magazine.

As its name suggests, Five Guys' simple menu consists mainly of burgers and fries, as well as hot dogs and veggie and cheese sandwiches. Burgers range in price from around $4 to $6, with fries running from around $3 to $5.

Five Guys began renovating the former Falcetti Music store location in late spring, but had encountered "issues" that lead to delay, according to Building Commissioner Gerald Gardner last month, who did not disclose the nature of those issues. 

Since Five Guys began preparing the Merrill Road location, its nearest fast-food competitor, a Burger King franchise located next door to the plaza, has closed for business, along with two other area locations controlled by the same owner.  While originally said to be temporary, the locations soon after had all Burger King signage stripped from the buildings in what appears to be a more permanent closure.

Customers surveyed leaving from the new restaurant's first lunch rush (and probably heading back to work) were short on words but big on enthusiasm. A number of "greats" and a couple of "yums" as they went about their way, while one young man flashed a dramatic thumbs up to this correspondent as he slid the last of his fries in his mouth.

Five Guys Burgers and Fries is open 11 to 10 seven days a week. The full menu and more information, including online ordering (but, alas, no delivery), can be found at www.fiveguys.com.

North Adams Lakeside Cafe Offers Food With A View

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
Amy Whisenant is ready to take orders at the new cafe in the concession stand at Windsor Lake.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Amy Whisenant is working to turn the traditional concession stand at Windsor Lake into a destination cafe.

You'll still find the usual fare at Amy's Cafe on the Lake — chips, candy, soda, frozen treats and hot dogs and hamburgers. But Whisenant is spicing up the menu with pulled pork and chicken sandwiches, wraps, mocha drinks and egg sandwiches, and is planning more offerings down the road.

On a very hot Friday afternoon, a pot of New England clam chowder was simmering on the stove.

"They say if you eat something hot it's supposed to make you cooler," said Whisenant, with an infectious laugh that punctuates her conversation. "I want to add a New England dinner on Fridays — clam chowder, rolls, and fish and chips."

Whisenant has more than 30 years of catering experience and most recently worked at boys' high school in Connecticut. When she found out that last year's concession operator had decided not to return, she applied for the lease and arrived with her camper in a downpour on June 3.

She's rolled up her sleeves and, with some help from her father, Frank Whisenant, immediately began scrubbing, ripping up floors, painting, and fixing up the aged concession area. The dark walls are now bright white, screens have been repaired, there's new vinyl on the floor and plans in place to add a six-burner gas stove and a fryer.

"People are always asking me for fried foods ... Not yet!" laughed Whisenant.

Her efforts have made the Windsor Lake Recreation Commission reconsider the building's future. There have been discussions about demolishing the building, which also has bathrooms and changing rooms. Chairman George Forgea said it may be possible to repurpose it.

"She has done an incredible amount of work," he said last week. "The city has committed to putting in more kitchen equipment because it had nothing, basically."

The Alford resident (her sister is Susan Chilson, one of the lake managers) said her goal is not only to serve campers and beachgoers at Fish Pond and Historic Valley Campground but to create a place for downtown workers to get away for lunch or for people to call in for takeout.

"Look at this view," she said, nodding her head toward the lake, the mountains and the blue sky. "Can you imagine coming here for lunch?"

Whisenant takes an order in the refurbished concession. She's hoping to do more takeouts and add picnic baskets as well.
There's room for some picnic tables and a few more cafe tables for "Lunch at the Lake with Amy." "You'd have a seat with a view and be able to get away from it all," said Whisenant.

She's planning specials for the upcoming Concerts on the Lake and pre-ordered picnic baskets, and working the takeout aspect of the cafe, with a few lunchtime regulars already.

Prices range from about $1.50 for grilled cheese to under $4 for a vegetarian wrap. Whisenant said it was important to her to ensure the prices weren't too high. "I want to make it reasonable for people.

The cafe hours are Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 11 to 8; Saturday from 10 to 8; and Sunday from noon to 7. The concession is closed Tuesday. For takeout, call 413-663-7928. The cafe will be open this Thursday during the lake's open house.

"This is my dream come true," said Whisenant, then laughed, "It was a fated thing."

Haflinger Haus Bringing Austrian Cuisine To Adams

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff

The main dining room is decorated with a historic feel.
ADAMS, Mass. — The wait for wiener schnitzel, kasespatzle or hahnchen gerostet is over.

The Haflinger Haus in the former Harrington's Restaurant on Commercial Street is open for business with a menu filled with Austrian favorites. The restaurant and inn had a soft opening on Monday — opening for the dinner hours.

"It's got charm," said 25-year restaurant business veteran Dan Dougherty, who is the general manager. "It reminds me of walking into 1925."

The historic building was purchased last December by former Selectman Donald Sommer as a "reclamation project." Sommer and his family purchased the building for $110,000 and has put what Dougherty estimates is about $100,000 worth of renovations into it. The goal, Sommer previously said, is to "bring life into the building" after it has sat dormant since 2010.

Sommer hired Alexis Girhiny, former director of career services and instructor at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, as head chef. Girhiny boasts more than 25 years in culinary including two stays in south Germany, where she learned to cook Austrian food.

"I lived in a town that borders Austria for six years. I understand the whole 'hearty' culture," Girhiny said on Thursday.

There are four rental rooms upstairs.
Sommers often travels to Austria, which is his heritage, and owns Haflinger horses, for which he named the restaurant and decorated with photos of — bringing that culture to a town that has no other restaurants like it.

The Haflinger Haus will be open from 5 until 9 p.m. Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and from 5 until 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. It will be closed on Mondays. The tavern will open at 4 p.m. The menu is available below.

Once reconstruction is completed on the porches, which Dougherty said will "hopefully be completed in a month," there will be outdoor seating. Four upstairs rooms were renovated for rental so the restaurant operates as an inn as well.

The last two operations out of that location, once the Adams Rest Home, went into foreclosure. The first was Silvia's Inn and the second, Harrington's Restaurant. Succeeding where others have failed will be based on providing "good food, good service at a fair price," Sommers previously said.

Haflinger Haus Menu 2012
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