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Brothers Marketplace: An Amazing Neighborhood Grocery Store in Medfield, Massachusetts

Brothers Marketplace, Medfield, Massachusetts

by Eric Hurwitz. Page created on 3/22/17. All photos by Eric unless otherwise noted.

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Driving around downtown Medfield, Mass., past Park Street Books, Butterfly Tree Gift Boutique Shop, A&D Appliance Center and the Noon Hill Grill located in the former train station, the small town feeling felt quite nice -- like something out of a Leave it to Beaver episode.

Even with its appealing downtown ways, Medfield did take a huge hit to its retro qualities in 2013 as Lord's Department Store closed after 60 years in business. Fortunately, the Roche Bros. supermarket chain, based in Wellesley, Mass., recognized Medfield's pleasing downtown and overall potential, and decided to open a neighborhood grocery store called Brothers Marketplace in the former Lord's Department Store spot. The store opened on July 29, 2014 -- the second Brothers Marketplace opening, following the Weston, Mass., location's debut on May 18 in the same year.

While Brothers Marketplace does possess that old-time community feel -- largely due to its mere presence in a downtown area -- the look is more 21st century with a sleek design and a hustle and bustle that working professionals carry over from the office to the store. Still, the 9,000 square ft. facility -- small compared to, say, the Whole Food's Dedham 60,000 sq. ft. store -- creates an innate, intimate feeling that is definitely closer to an older neighborhood market rather than the modern grocery store no matter how many up-to-date, HGTV-type modern furnishings saturate the food store. Being at the corner of quaint Main St., and a tree-lined side street further validates its homage to tradition.

Look and feel aside, Brothers Marketplace's inventory is what really makes the place special. The produce section -- with some of the freshest local fruits and veggies you'll see -- has an appealing farmers market layout. There's a butcher and seafood shop (because Roche Bros. typically carries meats, fish, and produce superior to other supermarket chains, Brothers Marketplace is clearly at an advantage) an authentic diner with everything from burgers to ice cream and breakfast sandwiches, an indoor/outdoor bakery cafe, a take-out food section with made-on-the-premises items, and specialty foods all over the place.

Produce from Brothers Marketplace in Medfield, Massachusetts
Local produce from Brothers Marketplace.

Local corn from Brothers Marketplace in Medfield, Massachusetts
Great selection of locally-grown corn during the summer at Brothers Marketplace.

Shopping at Brothers Marketplace in Medfield, Massachusetts
Brothers Marketplace features a wonderful neighborhood grocery vibe.

The Diner
Brother Diner at Brothers Marketplace in Medfield, Mass.
Brothers Diner at Brothers Marketplace.

Brothers Diner brings together the past and present of this location wonderfully. Brothers Diner, while beautifully fostering a diner’s classic interior look and vibe, employs Roche Bros. employees to run the diner, as opposed to a leased operation -- this allows for more consistency in its food offerings.   The Diner focuses on “clean ingredients,” and high-quality sourcing, while still offering many diner food classics, according to Dena Kowloff, director of marketing Roche Bros.

“Isn’t that what a diner should be?” said Kowloff. “We serve diner food in a friendly neighborhood setting, but you can also ask where anything comes from.”

The Diner sources hormone and antibiotic-free meats including Angus beef sourced from Niman Ranch, of Northglenn, Colorado and a delicious pastrami from McKenzie Country Classics out of Burlington, Vermont. Diner coffee -- often traditionally tepid in many diners -- takes on a full-bodied and smooth-tasting flavor at Brothers Diner, courtesy of Armeno Coffee Roasters from Northborough, Massachusetts. Byrne Dairy, a beloved, fourth generation dairy farm in Upstate New York, supplies ice cream, which Brothers Diner offers in scoops, sundaes, banana splits, root beer floats and frappes.  Brothers Diner also features other “sweet items” like milkshakes, and lime and raspberry rickeys.

“It’s insane how many kids come in after school,” said Brothers Diner Manager, Jennifer Humphrey, of the ice cream crowd. “It’s like frappe central!”

The old-time soda fountain features Maine Root handcrafted sodas made with Fair Trade organic evaporated cane juice. Soda flavors include regular and diet cola, black cherry, root beer and ginger brew, as well as lemonade.

Breakfast items range from the familiar (pancakes, eggs any style, French toast, Belgium waffles) to signature, artfully-prepared creations like the Brothers Breakfast Sandwich with fried egg, cheese and grilled pastrami served on a Brioche roll. The lunch menu has several burger offerings, along with classic diner comfort foods like homemade soups, hot dogs, mac and cheese, tuna melts, club sandwiches and grilled cheese.

Burger from Brothers Diner at Brothers Marketplace in Medfield, Massachusetts
Mouthwatering burger from Brothers Diner.

Breakfast from Brothers Diner at Brothers Marketplace in Medfield, Massachusetts
Equally mouthwatering pastrami breakfast sandwich with a cup of coffee from Brothers Diner.

Tucked away in the right corner of Brothers Marketplace, Brothers Diner seamlessly fits into the handsome, updated 21st century look of the entire grocery store, but somehow maintains its own retro identity. With counter, stools, coffee always brewing and wonderful small town, hometown conversations amongst customers and staff, Brothers Diner does what a diner is supposed to do -- that is, take you away from the stresses of the world and into a welcoming, homey place with no pretensions and a staff that comes across like second family. The veteran employees seem like the nicest aunts, uncles and cousins, and the kids working there often act like a favorite nephew or niece.

Humphrey, as an example, works with the authentic style of a down-to-earth diner waitress by working many tasks, at once, but with a priority to always connect with regular and new customers. She clearly has a love for creating food and making friends.

“I’ve been in the kitchen my whole life,” said Humphrey. “I love this job and it’s great to see the town come here.”

“We are picky with the hiring process,” said Rob Croft, the store manager. “The kids work hard and are friends not only inside work, but also outside. It works to an advantage here that they are genuine friends. When friends work side-by-side, that is the most ideal situation.”

Brothers Diner also continues the Lord’s tradition by giving back to the community.

Diner employees cannot accept tips, but that does not stop customers from doing so. Staff then decides which charity to donate the money, according to Croft.

Nostalgic scenes of yesteryear, too, in the every day lives of local residents look like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting.

Morgida recalls an older couple once creating a priceless moment at the Diner.

“When we first opened, an older couple parked in the handicap section and came into the diner,” said Aimee Morgida, director of operations for Roche Bros. and Brothers Marketplace. “It was their date night and they got frappes. They were reliving the Lord’s days.”

The Future

Brother Marketplace is, no doubt, a wonderful addition to downtown Medfield. Additionally, they have pulled off a nearly impossible task, successfully replacing the beloved Lord's Department Store with very little complaining from locals rightfully still in love with Lord's. For old-time's sake, they even have a painted mural of Lord's on the side of the building -- clearly, a sign of respect to this landmark store and the town, in general. And while Brothers Marketplace looks completely different from the retro Lord's, one can still feel its grandfatherly presence in the new market. Perhaps, Brothers Marketplace is like the younger grandchild to Lord's, and is carrying on the proud tradition with its own career path.

In a way, Brothers Marketplace's emergence signifies a potential paradigm shift for small town downtowns -- that is, the neighborhood market making a comeback. It has become a real game-changer by attracting more businesses to a deserving town like Medfield.

Summer outdoor dining at Brothers Marketplace in Medfield MA
What a pleasant setting for outdoor dining during the warmer weather season!

Brothers Marketplace is located at 446 Main St., Medfield MA. Tel. 508-359-6850

Related article:
How to find the best diners in New England

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