Soon, you won’t have to head to pop-up events or makers markets to get some of the sweetest treats in Greater Boston; the women behind Nutty Life, Kitchen Millie and Boston Bonbon are teaming up to open their own shop in Arlington.
The power trio—Caroline Huffstetler, who makes dairy-free, organic nut milks, Michelle Wax, the baker behind Kitchen Millie’s two-bite cookies and Boston Bonbon’s Rita Ng, who handcrafts uniquely flavored macarons—are currently working out of shared kitchens throughout Boston. (Wax has built her cookie biz out of her Somerville home.) But they’d been chatting independently for a while about getting their own space.
“We were like, ‘We’re just so sick of all these big commercial kitchens that charge an arm and a leg,'” says Ng. “There have got to be people like us that can’t afford that rent.” None of the women need a lot of space or equipment to make their bite-sized, small-batch goods; Ng jokes that they aren’t deep frying pork chops. The only things they really required were an oven and a fridge. So the eager trio moved quickly; they started looking for a location in mid-March, and they signed the lease on their space at 2 Lake St. for May 15. They’re hoping to open the doors by the end of July.
“We were all ready to move on it,” says Wax enthusiastically.
The makers are calling their collaboration The Local Fare, and in addition to preparing and selling their own goods out of the shared space, they plan to stock the shelves with products from other small businesses in the area. They see the shop as a sort of bridge between pop-up markets and stores like Whole Foods—a place where businesses that are still scaling up their operation can peddle their wares on a permanent, or at least semi-permanent, basis. They’re considering showcasing work from local artists on the walls.
And while only Huffstetler, Wax and Ng will be cooking out of the rear kitchen to start, once they get their rhythm down, they might invite other bakers and chefs who don’t need all the trappings of a commissary kitchen to use the space. “We’ve kind of been doing that with everything, starting out bare bones and working up from it,” Wax explains.
The DIY trio has spent the last few weeks prepping, planning and painting the shop; they joke that they’re doing everything but the plumbing and wiring, even though two-thirds of the group have never painted a room before.
“I go to this hardware store, and the guy doesn’t tell me about primer or anything,”Huffstetler laughs. “I was like, you’ve got two paints, it looks great, but where’s the primer? Where’s the other brush?” adds Ng with a grin.
Painting the shop together over the course of a few days was a great bonding experience for the group, which Huffstetler says already has great synergy. Sharing a kitchen could get messy, both literally and figuratively. But these three are constantly learning from each other—not just when it comes to paint and primer—and collaborating with one other. Their experiences so far have been serendipitous; not only do they work well together, but their products are compatible. They’d eventually like to host milk and cookie parties at the shop, and Ng recently learned that she may be able to use the almonds from Huffstetler’s milks for her macarons. “It’s just so random,” Ng says. “And I’m sure more and more things will come up,” adds Wax.
When Wax, Huffstetler and Ng open the doors to The Local Fare, they’re hoping to extend that collaborative spirit by carrying products that are made by their friends as well as new people with whom they haven’t worked before.
“We want to create a community out of this,” Huffstetler says.
“We’re trying to bring local, unique products here,” Ng says. “We’re bringing the farmers market to your neighborhood.”