Our mission is to be a neighborhood market/café/deli that reflects and serves the needs of the community which sustains it. We provide healthy, natural, specialty, local and organic food options. We provide challenging, enjoyable and competitively compensated jobs inside a merit-based management structure. We build and maintain strong relationships with local suppliers. In this way, we seek to have a positive influence on our community of customers, employees and suppliers.
The idea for City Feed and Supply began sometime in the late 90’s. Kristine Cortese and David Warner, the eventual founders, were living in the Stony Brook section of Jamaica Plain. A neighborhood convenience store on Boylston Street had gone out of business and Kristine thought “what if”. What if there was a neighborhood store that sold food you would actually want to eat every day, not just snacks and junk food? What if you could also get a great cup of coffee on your way to work? And food for dinner on the way home? And a good baguette? Or a sticky bun on Sunday morning? What if it sold healthy food? But not exclusively healthy food (because sometimes you just need potato chips and a Coke). The idea for City Feed and Supply was inspired by the available space, and the neighborhood. It was not just an interesting idea looking for any convenient place to land.
It was a little bit of a crazy idea, partly because neither David or Kristine had any experience with that kind of business (Kristine was working as a scenic painter for theatre and David was working as a restoration carpenter), and partly because no one was doing that kind of thing to look at as an example. So it probably can’t be done right?
After failing to convince any of their more qualified friends to take on this crazy idea, they started researching what it would take to do it themselves. With assistance from the JPNDC and the City of Boston’s Department of Neighborhood Development as well as Wilmer Hale Legal Services they developed a business plan, secured a lease, and acquired financing. In May of 2000, just in time for the Wake Up the Earth Festival by Spontaneous Celebrations, they opened their doors to the neighborhood.
One of the first questions is always, “why ‘City Feed and Supply’, is it a feed store?” While we do occasionally get the phone calls from folks looking for straw, cracked corn or baby chicks, we let folks know we are a people feed store (though we do have a small selection of pet foods for your convenience).
The name comes from the rural backgrounds of Kristine and David. Kristine’s parents, Annette and Joseph Cortese, grew up in Fort Sumner, NM and her grandfather, Papa Joe Cortese, owned a feed store called Valley Feed and Grain. That store is still in existence and is owned by Kristine’s cousin Knox Cortese and operated under the name of Cortese Feed and Supply.
David grew up in Oregon County, MO, on a farm outside the town of Alton.
Both of them remember their local feed store as a place where distant neighbors would congregate to catch up on news over a soda or a coffee. They thought of their urban neighborhood as a similar community in some ways. While folks may live literally right on top of each other, they may not actually see each other all that often. They thought of City Feed and Supply as a place where neighbors would be more likely to run in to each other and stop to catch up. Thus the name.
In the beginning, Kristine and David and a fine fellow by the name of Chris Ward were the only full-time employees of the store. Over the years, the business grew, sandwiches and café drinks were added to the services provided, and the number of employees grew to almost 20. In 2007, Kristine and David again began to think about the possibilities of an available space, 672 Centre Street in Jamaica Plain. The old Videosmith seemed like a good location for another City Feed and Supply.
Again after much assistance from the JPNDC, The City of Boston and friends and family, City Feed and Supply on Centre Street opened its doors on August 11, 2008. This second store is three times the size of the original store and includes an expanded selection of groceries with more of an emphasis on local, organic and specialty foods than the first store as well as an expanded deli menu and expanded seating. COME ON DOWN.
That’s our story and we are sticking to it.
*Photo by Lori DeSantis