West Main market hits its stride with bigger space and more local restaurant news

Eric Gertner (above) and Kate Collier opened Feast! in 2002. Photo: Amanda Maglione Eric Gertner (above) and Kate Collier opened Feast! in 2002. Photo: Amanda Maglione

Feast mode

Feast! on West Main had its most profitable year ever in 2014, and the specialty foods market and cafe is looking to keep its momentum in 2015, recently announcing a high-profile hire and new weekly sandwich concept.

Co-owner Eric Gertner said Feast! has grown every year since opening in 2002, and last year’s success was built largely on the acquisition of new kitchen and office space from the former Main Street Market tenant Sustain. Feast! began renting the Sustain space late last summer and had installed an oven, hoods and other kitchen equipment by the fall, according to Gertner.

“We sort of took a flyer,” Gertner said. “It’s the first time we’ve had a real kitchen. We’ve started doing what we’re calling ‘healthy food to go.’ That has helped fuel our growth.”

Gertner, who owns the business with his wife Kate Collier, said the new kitchen has also allowed Feast! to grow its catering, which the cafe has been doing since late 2004. It’s still not full-service catering, Gertner stressed, but the additional prep space has allowed his chefs to crank out more sandwich platters and the like in the mornings before the lunch rush comes in.

Feast!’s latest sandwich concept, International Tuesday, offers customers a new sammie featuring the flavors of a different nationality every Tuesday. “It’s cool because it kind of engages our staff, which is somewhat international,” Gertner said. “Those guys are already especially team-y, and every day we have a daily special that they make and taste all together and give feedback to improve it.” The first sandwich on the menu was a Salvadoran creation known as Pan con Pollo, and while Gertner isn’t entirely sure where the concept will go next, he said the staff may take things in a Russian direction, as well as into other Latin American flavors.

Feast!, which will turn 13 on February 13, recently grew its administrative staff by hiring a new director of service and operations in Dave Winder. Winder comes to the specialty food biz from Whole Foods, and Gertner said while he understands management from his time with a national grocery, he also has “a lot of exposure to the community and the local customer base.”

For a chance to see what Feast! has going on for yourself, look no further than the series of in-store classes the market began in late 2013. Gertner and his team have followed up their inaugural ham carving class with two cheese appreciation classes, one last fall and a Valentine’s-themed installment on February 9. Look for more such events, likely hosted by award-winning cheesemonger Sara Adduci, in the coming months.

Love fest 

Valentine’s Day falls on a Saturday this year, which only means one thing—dinner reservations are going to be even more of a pain to get. We can’t guarantee that there will still be any tables available by the time you read this, but thought we’d try to help out anyway.

Local spots offering prix fixe menus for Valentine’s Day include some downtown staples like Commonwealth Restaurant & Skybar (dance party upstairs after dinner!), Maya and Red Pump Kitchen. There’s also Rocksalt in Stonefield, the Belmont favorite tavola, and Boar’s Head Inn.

Also check out the local wineries’ calendars; Veritas is taking reservations for a five-course wine dinner, and White Hall will offer a chocolate and wine pairing.

For something a little different, check out Blue Moon Diner’s eighth annual five-course bacon dinner—because nothing says romance like half your weight in bacon.