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The owners of Thistle & Mirth on West Street are hoping to raise $8,000 from patrons to turn the bar into a pizzeria with 'safe closing hours.'

Thistle & Mirth Turns to Patrons for Help With Pizza Rebranding

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The owners of Thistle and Mirth are fundraising to rebrand to the bar's "nerdy and artsy roots" with the addition of pizza.

An Indiegogo has been launched to raise funds for the revision, rebranding, and reopening of the establishment after a stabbing on Thanksgiving Eve closed its doors. The plan is to reduce the footprint to the "old Mirth," install a pizza oven, emphasize games and artsy community events, focus on well-curated craft beer, and have earlier hours.

"After 13 years, we don't want to give up so easily," owners Joad Bowman and Austin Oliver wrote on social media.

The fundraiser aims to collect $8,000 to support the effort and has raised more than $3,800 so far. The owners have been deep cleaning, repairing, and painting the former bar and ramen restaurant.

"As many of you know we had a violent incident invade our space on November 23, and we made the decision to close our doors due to the rise in criminal activity in Pittsfield nightlife," the fundraiser reads.

"For us, the expansion that COVID forced on us had already taken a toll on our spirits, and the wallets. But we were making progress and had come almost out of the deep end. Until the incident."

Over the following week, Bowman and Oliver decided they could not cut ties with Pittsfield that easily and would try to move past this with a transformed space for the people who have supported Thistle and Mirth in its 13 years of operation.

Last week, Thistle and Mirth's ramen menu was moved to sister eatery Lulu's Tiny Grocery. Lulu's, located inside Crawford Square on North Street, was opened as a breakfast and lunch spot last year.

"Mirth will rise again, but we can't do it alone," the two wrote. "It is only with great reluctance that we are using this channel for fundraising, and are only doing it because of the tremendous circumstances and because we are attaching perks and rewards for those who would like them."

Closing on the busiest day of the year and the time following has reportedly "decimated" the restaurant's accounts and brought them to the brink.  

"We are returning to our nerdy and artsy roots: board games, communal events, safe closing hours….a pizza party!" they wrote.

The fundraiser has multiple levels of giving for larger donations that include a menu item in your name, a keychain, or even a pizza party around the donor's birthday.

Tags: bars, taverns,   business changes,   pizza,   restaurants,   

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Pittsfield's Former Polish Club Eyed For $20 Million Condo Project

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — With a sizable grant from the state, the former Polish Community Club is eyed for a 40-unit housing development that adds four additional buildings to the property.

On Wednesday, the Affordable Housing Trust heard from developer Robert Shan about the project that could cost as much as $20 million.  Planners are vying for $10 million through the MassHousing CommonWealth Builder Program created to facilitate the construction of single-family homes and condominiums affordable to households with moderate incomes.

"We're looking not just to do a one-off but to have a presence in Pittsfield, a presence in Berkshire County, and look to bring forward attainable and affordable housing to many communities," he said.

"We see this as as as the first step and it's ready to go. We've put a tremendous amount of work into it and we're looking forward to being able to work with you."

While utilizing the former club, the plot at 55 Linden Street would have five buildings of one to three-bedroom condominiums for first-time homebuyers.  The final costs have not yet been determined but it is estimated that a unit for those of the 80 percent area median income will cost between $150,000 and $200,000 and those in between 80 and 100 percent AMI will cost between $190,000 and $250,000.

The proposed condos are single-story units with an entrance from the street with the first-floor units having a private fenced backyard.  The existing building is staged for single-story condos and two-story townhouses.

Planners aim to bring the character of the 1872 structure into the new construction through colors and architectural elements.

"In developing housing for first-time buyers, we wanted a form that all had entries from grade, from outside without common corridors, without elevators to get that feeling of homeownership," Shan explained.

"While we can't afford to build and get these first-time families at the single-family homes, we wanted a hybrid product that really felt and operated like a home where a lot of the units have backyards, is its own community, etc. So in that, we have not maximized the density."

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