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Stephanie Burdick's friend John Burdick making this reporter a Berkshire Best (strawberry and banana) smoothie.

Berkshire Blends Brings Real Fruit Smoothies to North Adams

By Sabrina DammsiBerkshires Staff
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Berkshire Blends offers a variety of fruit and vegetable smoothies. 
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Berkshire Blends, located on Marshall Street, serves up fresh fruit smoothies made with homemade yogurt daily. 
 
Owner Stephanie Burdick knew that she always wanted to start her own business, but it was a matter of finding something that would be successful downtown.
 
"I had toyed around with a couple of different ideas in the past, and there are so many things that have come and gone from North Adams," Burdick said. "... I decided if you could do one thing and do it right — that's all you need."
 
The opportunity came to Burdick after she left her manager position at Cumberland Farms, where she had worked on and off for 25 years. But Burdick was unsure what she wanted to do next. 
 
Burdick remembered how difficult it was for her and her kids to find fresh smoothies. From there she ran with the idea to fill this need.
 
"So I decided to go with smoothies. My kids and I've been eating them for years. And it seemed like every time we were on vacation, all they could find were smoothies made with artificial syrup, which just seems crazy to me," she said. "We have so much fresh fruit available to us, and we're throwing artificial sweetener in our drinks."
 
Formerly, Pop's Variety filled the 20 Marshall St. storefront, and when it closed its doors Burdick decided to make her move.
 
"I've been talking about, thinking about opening a business for a while," Burdick said. "And it just seemed like it must be fate. They were going out of business, and I needed to do something. So I decided to take the leap and go for it."
 
Burdick opened on May 18 after renovating the spot with her family. Aside from the plumbing, the renovations were done by Burdick, her friend John Burdick, and her adult children who worked tirelessly to open the restaurant in time for Memorial Day weekend and the Solid Sound Festival. 
 
Burdick's experience working as a manager provided her with the organizational, financial, and communication skills that she needed to run her business, but she knew she wanted to do things differently. She wanted to run her business and treat her employees in a way that she was unable to while working for a big corporation. 
 
"Cumberland Farms started off as a small family business ... and I believe about four years ago, they sold the company to a big corporate guru. And from there, it just went downhill. There was no nice family-owned atmosphere where people cared about their employees kind of attitude anymore," Burdick said. "It was all about the bottom line, 'push everything you can until you get that last penny. We don't care how hard you work. We don't care if you're sick.' It wasn't the way I wanted to treat my employees. So I felt like I couldn't go to work every day and just be like that with people."
 
There is no artificial flavoring in the smoothie shop — Berkshire Blends uses all fresh fruit. Each smoothie is made with yogurt that Burdick makes daily. She makes three gallons of yogurt a day. 
 
Burdick said she learned how to make homemade yogurt because it not only would set her business apart from others in the area but would be cost-effective. 
 
"I make homemade yogurt. We make homemade granola, and smoothie bowls. Just something to attract people that are sick of buying all this processed foods. Because God knows there's a ton of it out there these days," Burdick said. 
 
Burdick said that the process of making the yogurt is simple but can take up to 20 hours.
 
Each smoothie is made to the customer's specifications, but there are menu options that Burdick created after some experimentation. To cater to each customer's wants, she uses a single-serve Ninja blender.
 
"I tried these ones just because they're single serve. And we have such a variety of ingredients that it's not like we can make big batches and have people come in and buy them. Literally, every single smoothie that goes out the door is different," Burdick said.
 
Currently, she uses outside vendors to get her fruit but she is hoping that when the summer comes she can use local vendors for some of her supplies.  
 
"I hope to buy local apples for a special smoothie. But right now, we're just getting into that season around here," Burdick said. 
 
When she has time, Burdick also makes fresh baked goods for her patrons. Currently on the menu are slices of chocolate cake with vanilla cream frosting, banana crumb muffins, and chocolate chip cookies available for purchase — but this changes daily. 
 
Since opening the shop Berkshire Blends has had a good amount of business and even has some regulars. 
 
"The town has been very receptive of us being here. So many people have come in and said, 'We need a local smoothie shop.' I mean, you have to travel to either Williamstown or Pittsfield [for a smoothie]. So it's been great," Burdick said. 
 
She said local businesses have also reached out to Berkshire Blend to offer their support. 
 
Many businesses in North Adams are closed on Mondays so Burdick decided to have Berkshire Blends open every day except Tuesday from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. 

Tags: new business,   

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North Adams Taking Up Short-Term Rental Regs

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The General Government Committee is recommending a revamped short-term rental ordinance that will target units being run primarily as a business.
 
It won't really affect homeowners who want to rent out a room or two in their primary residences or in a building that they live in, like a duplex. But it will require property owners who do not live on the same property or who live in a building with more than five units to have a permit.
 
"The people that want to run it as a business, we're going to treat you as a business so you're gonna have to get a special permit," said Chair Wayne Wilkinson said at Monday's meeting. "You're going have to do what all businesses and commercial properties in North Adams have to do."
 
This latest iteration of the draft ordinance was hammered out by an ad hoc group consisting of Wilkinson, Mayor Jennifer Macksey, Building Inspector William Meranti and Community Development Director Michael Nuvallie, with input from consultant Zachary Feury, who had developed the original ordinance while working for the city.  
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