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VisitingNewEngland small business partnership
LOCAL SMALL BUSINESS TREASURE: Cushman Market and Cafe, North
Cushman Market and Cafe.
Article and photos by Eric Hurwitz. Article
created on 3/4/2018.
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Even before arriving at Cushman Market and Cafe in Amherst, Mass.,
there's an anticipatory warm and fuzzy feeling about this neighborhood
business. Locally-owned grocery stores and cafes have that effect in
a world that has otherwise gone corporate and supersized.
Visitors often go through an effort, though, to arrive at this local
small business treasure. Cushman's location resides outside bustling
and even beyond UMass Amherst on the perimeter of the central district.
It's worth the few extra minutes drive, however, as beautiful old
homes and rural views lead to the brightly-colored
Cushman's exterior on a quiet country road right by a peaceful town
common and railroad tracks.
Virtual silence in the air greets visitors upon approaching Cushman
Market and Deli -- no traffic, loud buses, and man-made
machine noises related to those familiar ongoing infrastructure
in Massachusetts. For a minute, one wonders if the quiet aura extends
Cushman Market and Cafe, but a turn into the back parking lot refutes
that concern. The lot is packed and people consistently getting out of
cars within just a 30-second time span. Upon entering the market
red-painted door below the 60s-style, multi-colored Cushman's sign in
the front, the likeability factor starts right away with a display of
locally-made homemade breads.
Homemade breads in the general store section of Cushman Market
The old wooden floors, the local food products, natural oven-roasted
chickens, grocery store basics and gifts collectively saturate the
small space the way an old-fashioned neighborhood grocery store did so
back in the day. The market -- or general store, if you will -- at
Cushman's also exhibits a nexus to what
almost always seen at well-run, indepedently-owned grocery stores of
the past: Not one item
on the shelves appears to be out of place!
The market section of Cushman Market and Cafe
Walking front to back in the market eventually reveals, on the other
hand, something that was rarely seen at older grocery stores -- that
beautiful rustic cafe. The 36-seat cafe has a personality of its own,
yet seems to
co-exist perfectly and seamlessly with the general store section.
with children, travelers and, generally, a warm mix of various races,
creeds peacefully come together -- WiFi or sans technology -- at the
top and traditional tables for some breakfast, lunch, baked goods or
maybe just a cup of coffee or tea. The period lights, old-fashioned
authentic crate labels, art and memorabilia on the
walls, local artist's work under some of the table glasses, and the
post-and-beam design create a cozy, unique intimate vibe that
welcoming setting that seems part college town joint, part neighborhood
eatery. From no hair (babies) to purple hair to elderly white hair, the
generations all seem to feel at home here. From two perspectives, here
is that quaint dining room...
View of cafe dining room upon entering from the market
Another dining room perspective from the back entrance of
Cushman Market and Cafe
"I always liked 'off the beaten path,'" said Pete Sylvan, who owns
Cushman Market and Cafe with wife, Becca Schwartz. "It feels like a
hidden gem, but we are not a hidden gem. Just look around (all tables
are filled at 11 a.m.)."
Prosperous times escaped this location not too long ago, however, as
Pete and Becca bought a building in 2003 through foreclosure that was
empty for two years
and came with burst pipes, a buried tank and various forms of blight.
What a far cry from the community grocery store -- under various owners
-- that graced this site since George Cogswell bought the land in 1892
to build a market.
"The doors of this place were locked when the past owners left one
day," said Pete. "It was deteriorating badly."
Pete, a former dentist and Becca with an architectural background and a
keen eye for art, were ready to settle in the beautiful Amherst area
and decided to take a chance with reopening the market in 2005.
went through painstaking
efforts to help Pete and Becca's vision and dream come true, and today,
Cushman Market and Cafe has not only brought back to life the glorious
visual template of this historic building but also a new spirited,
thriving business beloved by the community and visitors.
benefit: By purchasing the building, Pete and Becca helped avert
proposed mandatory neighborhood rezoning to entirely "residential" in
this area now known as Cushman Village.
Pete Sylvan and Becca Schwartz, owners of Cushman Market and
"We wanted to keep as much of the 'old' as possible, but get things up
to date without compromising too much when we renovated," said Becca,
who has contributed in fostering the look of Cushman's in many ways
including building the bench she is sitting on in the photo above.
A wall of crate labels.
Pete and Becca created the menu and talented chef Brigid Moore runs
the kitchen, which produces wonderful food options that include
hearty salads, a new vegan menu, sandwiches (named after box crate
labels), egg on a roll and grilled cheese options, paninis, Hobo's
("the Ultimate Bowl of Goodness"), New York City-style bagels, and
traditional and creative breakfasts. Coffee comes from a local roaster,
milk from a dairy farm two miles down the road and maple from a farm
three miles away.
"We source locally, whenever possible, and use no artificial
ingredients or additives," said Pete. "Brigid is a great cook."
Locomotive Hobo with roasted potatoes, Canadian bacon, cheddar,
corn bread and kale topped with an egg, over-easy, and chipotle sauce
Salmon burger with wild caught Alaskan salmon, lettuce, tomato,
red onion and lemon-dill mayo on a roll.
Cushman's also offers an outstanding variety of coffee and sweets. One
of the most popular treats: the peanut butter and chocolate balls,
otherwise known as Buckeye Balls (an Ohio favorite). Pete, a University
of Michigan grad, sells this tasty snack as an ode to the football
rivalry between his old
alma mater and the Ohio State Buckeyes. For the record, Michigan leads
Ohio State 58-49-6 (ties), all-time, much to Pete's happiness. Pete's
towards Ohio State's football team can be seen at the front counter
Peanut butter and chocolate Buckeyes.
Cushman Market and Cafe also offers a delightful outdoor dining patio,
as well as Sunday morning jazz from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. that features many
talented local musicians. And virtually everywhere you look -- inside
and out -- there's always an original touch to this beautiful small
business. Cases-in-point: the rooster sign created by a local artist
and remnants of the much older version of this building in the cafe...
Artful rooster sign outside Cushman Market and Cafe.
An original wall at Cushman Market and Cafe.
The old and the new synergistically create a wonderful environment to
shop and dine at Cushman Market and Cafe. It's a truly one-of-a-kind,
food destination and one that beams with pride of small business
"We put a lot of value on engagement that includes a happy staff,
community and those from outside the area" said Pete. "It's a busy
business where you can still have an enjoyable experience."
"There is nothing cookie cutter about this place from our food and
atmosphere down to the paper straws that we use instead of plastic!"
Cushman Market and Cafe is located at
491 Pine Street, Amherst, MA. Tel. (413-549-0100. Web site: http://www.cushmanmarket.com. Facebook fan page: http://www.facebook.com/cushmanmarket
View of Cushman Market and Cafe from the town common.
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it's like to dine at the Bull Run Restaurant in Shirley, Mass.
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VisitingNewEngland business partnerships differ than feature articles
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Businesses pay a small, one-time fee to have pages like this appear,
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Massachusetts travel! Read
Town Greens book -- Discover New England's first travel
town commons. Includes a chapter on the Plymouth town green!
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