Friday, June 28, 2013

Downtown Food Shuffle

104 North Pleasant Street, Amherst

Souper Bowl, a 2,200 square foot, five-year-old downtown restaurant could be calling it quits, but another somewhat unique food establishment could soon replace it.

All Things Local Store, a sort of indoor farmers and crafts market, is attempting to raise $15,000 by July 31 in order to transition from cyber dream to bricks-and-mortar reality. 

The operation would act like a consignment store allowing farmers and crafts persons to sell their wares and simply pay a small commission to the store for each item sold.  Organizers are currently negotiating to buy all the restaurant equipment from Souper Bowl which would allow for safe food preparation and storage.

The building is owned by Barry Roberts, a tireless advocate for a thriving downtown.

Certainly demand is there:  The Amherst Select Board just approved an expansion request for the 42-year-old downtown "flagship" Amherst Farmers Market, allowing them to use a piece of Boltwood Avenue in front of the Lord Jeffery Inn.

Last winter the Amherst Middle School hosted a Saturday Winter Farmers Market. And the outdoor Wednesday Farmers Market at Kendrick Park seems to be growing.

Wednesday Farmers Market Kendrick Park

 Amherst Community Market, another competing group, has organized around the concept of a cooperative food (super) market jointly owned and operated by workers and consumers.  In the late 1970s Amherst supported a thriving natural foods coop, Yellow Sun.

Thus, a year-round indoor facility could certainly find a successful niche -- especially in health conscious Amherst.

Indeed, the business will still involve farming


Anonymous said...

Souper Bowl was a strange place. It showed the lack of business model. Their operating hours were erratic at best. Their menu was inflexible. I remember seeing them explain why they could not give someone half a turkey sandwich with soup, since the menu said half a panini with soup, they could only prepare half a panini, not half a sandwich. It also took much longer than expected to have an order made.

That said, their soups were great.

However, a good business model and work ethic wins out every time.

Anonymous said...

They would pay a small commission? Sounds like grand opening, grand closing. It takes a lot of tomatoes to pay the rent.

Anonymous said...

I agree with anon 1:29. I was a pretty regular customer. I really liked their soups and then one day, the owner said something to me that really offended me. I never went back.

Anonymous said...

"In the late 1970s Amherst supported a thriving natural foods coop, Yellow Sun."

Which went out of business because it couldn't afford the rent or get enough customers.

Anonymous said...

Souper Bowl never seemed to have an identity. Was it a bar? A soup place? A restaurant? It was a big spot that was always empty. It didn't help the customer service was not very good in there either. Each time I went in there it felt like I was in a mall food court, an empty mall food court.

Anonymous said...

Season over @ now.

Anonymous said...

This place had poor customer service. They also took a long tine completing orders. Just ordering a bowl of soup would take 10-15 min.

Amherst Community Market said...

Hello! Laura from the Amherst Community Market steering committee here. I just wanted to clarify that we aren't looking to compete with All Things Local. In fact, our two projects have been in contact over the past several months and are very supportive of each other's efforts. We've got different visions for how we'd like to see the needs of the community met, thus we have opted not to combine our projects at this time, but are always open for conversations about how we can support each other in the spirit of cooperation.

Thanks for posting this, by the way! For any clarification on what Amherst Community Market is all about, check out our website at

Amherst Community Market said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Thank you Laura, it will be nice to try out both of your offerings. I wonder though if you might consider that, if your two entities acquiesce to compete, (opposing visions, deciding not to "combine"), that the community might end up with better service and a better product in the end? Otherwise what's your and our incentive? Who ARE you competing with?

With sincere support for local BUSINESS,

a Cowardly Anonymous Local Consumer

P.S. Truly looking forward to what you might have to offer that we can't get elsewhere!

Anonymous said...

NO soup for YOU!