In the Berkshires you can find heirloom tomatoes, artisanal cheese, pasture-raised beef... but can you find a real bagel? Thanks to the Great Barrington Bagel Company, the answer to that question is yes. “We’re making an authentic New York-style bagel. It’s a specialty,” says owner Bob Climo with pride.
Business of the Month
Lester Blumenthal claims to have lost all his marbles when he decided to make a go of the restaurant business. But anyone who succumbs to Bessie the fiberglass cow’s beckoning glance and follows the arrows to the Route 7 Grill will see that Lester has not lost anything but instead has found
Say hello to the stalwarts of Railroad Street, Great Barrington; say hello to Steve and Tony Carlotta of the Snap Shop. They have been in business since April Fools’ Day in 1972. That’s 41 years, no fooling!
But it’s no wonder that they have held down the fort for so long, even in the face of
Ask anyone in the southern Berkshires where they got their bike, and they are more than likely to answer, “Berkshire Bike & Board.”
Steffen Root was knocking at the door when the local bike shop first opened in 1995 (it was known as Berkshire Bike & Blade then
Locke Larkin, the man behind Berkshire County’s oldest established gourmet food shop, Locke Stock & Barrel, laughs when asked about “the local movement,” because for him it just means that he has been around long enough to see things come full circle. A native of the Berkshires,
332 Stockbridge Road, Great Barrington, MA
How often can you still find an independently owned bookstore, one with the local flavor leant by a used book section, a large collection of local histories, and books signed by local authors? Less and less often, as Eric Wilska, co-owner of the Bookloft on Stockbridge Road in Great
On a weekend trip to the Berkshires in 2012, Jeffrey Blaugrund entered a tried-and-true recipe from his New Mexico roots into a chili cook off at the then Meat Market in Great Barrington. To his surprise, and perhaps the dismay of some local contestants, his Carne Adovada dish won! At the suggestion that he begin selling the red chile pork stew, Jeff became consumed by the idea of starting a business.
Moonlighting as a Crossfit coach, Jeff loved the routine and convenience of prepared meals that allowed him to maintain his fitness goals and made for quick desk lunches during his busy day. In thinking through his business idea, he realized that it’s not one great product that makes a business, but rather “the value proposition of quality sourcing, thoughtful cooking and a convenient, delicious result.” Enter Braise Worthy: a line of frozen meals that Jeff and co-founder Austin Banach say are “exactly what you want to eat when you don’t have time.”
These aren’t your grandpa’s TV dinners. Anyone who has ever braised anything knows the cooking process can take hours to develop flavors and tenderize meats. They'll also know it tastes best after a night in the refrigerator, so all meals are flash frozen immediately after production to preserve freshness and taste. Each of Braise Worthy’s meals showcase locally sourced high quality ingredients, masterful cooking, and creative recipe development. From the Beef Satsivi, a regional specialty from the Republic of Georgia, Mississippi Pot Roast with pepperoncinis and homemade ranch dressing, to the vegan Menudo that calls upon mushrooms to replicate the texture of tripe in the classic Mexican soup, Braise Worthy’s products respectfully honor the tradition of each dish while bringing it new life.
Braise Worthy has a unique business model, too. Through a direct-to-consumer subscription service, meals are delivered weekly to three pick up locations throughout the southern Berkshires. Jeff and Austin say this format gives them flexibility when it comes to research and development while sustainably scaling their business operations. In addition to feeding the masses at community events, their baby blue taco truck can be seen traveling around the county acting as a testing ground for new recipes. Braise Worthy will soon be releasing 7 more dishes, offering a total of 16 omnivorous and vegan menu items.
Fundamental to Braise Worthy’s commitment to quality and consistency, is transparency. That’s why each batch of their slow cooked meals includes an ingredient tracker that allows customers to see exactly where their food is coming from. Jeff and Austin source their proteins and vegetables from local farms as much as possible, including fellow BerkShares businesses North Plain Farm and Mayflower Farm. The same commitment to transparency is why they decided to take BerkShares. BerkShares distinguish local businesses from global counterparts and makes visible how money circulates in the region. As they continue to iterate and grow, Jeff and Austin look forward to deepening their connection to the local economy and community.