June 9, 2011
by Randace Rauscher Moore
Every year Mayor Thomas Menino and Boston Main Streets honors a volunteer and business of each of the mayor's 17 Main Streets programs. JP Centre/South Main Streets is proud to announce that this year City Feed and Supply will win Business of the Year.
The Legal of Local
Consumers have embraced food grown near where they live as the best thing since sliced artisanal bread.
Some would argue that lumping all of New England into your definition of "local" is too broad. Grocer David Warner in Jamaica Plain prefers a much stricter definition. To Warner and his wife, Kristine Cortese, co-owners of City Feed and Supply’s two locations, "local" means within 100 miles, and products that come from within 300 miles are labeled "regional."
"I like our definition," Warner says. "Once in a while we also use 'hyperlocal,' by which we mean walking distance from the store.” His stores carry 600-plus local and regional products, even more during the growing season. "It frustrates me that [local] isn’t formalized," he acknowledges.
"It's peanut butter jelly time! You feel guilty ordering the No. 11 at City Feed and Supply in Jamaica Plain. It's just PB&J! Oh, but it's not. It's peanut butter (smooth), and then your choice of red or blue jam (get the red), and apple or banana slices (go with Granny Smith). Take heart in knowing the multi-grain bread is from Fornax Bread in Roslindale and the red jam is a tangy mix of strawberries, raspberries, and cranberries (the blue is blueberries) from Deborah's Kitchen in Littleton. A glass of milk is all you need now."
"Jamaica Plain has earned its reputation as one of the most dynamic neighborhoods in Boston. Few neighborhoods have experienced the steady waves of change since the 1960s as Jamaica Plain.
David Warner, 41, opened City Feed and Supply in 2008 on Centre Street in the heart of Jamaica Plain’s business district. The sign above the entrance to the hot produce and sandwich store pretty much says it all: "Fair Trade Organic Espresso." The place attracts young, hip, well-educated customers, sometimes parents with strollers, who have either moved to Jamaica Plain, visit it, or hang out there while attending college nearby, along with older residents."
City Feed and Supply has earned a place among the 100 fastest-growing inner city firms in the United States, selected by the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC). This year’s Inner City 100 were chosen from thousands of nominees, and City Feed and Supply is among the leaders in this distinguished group. Founded in 1994 by Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter, ICIC is a nonprofit research and strategy organization and the leading authority on U.S. inner city economies and the businesses that thrive there.
"The reliance on big, distant farms and food-processing plants is beginning to shift; more people are willing to buy fresh and local. It’s like a giant ship that is turning a little; customers have to realize that they are holding the wheel."
Photo of David by Janell Fiarman.
Joseph Porcelli (Chief Neighbor) from Neighbors for Neighbors invited
David Warner from City Feed and Supply to join him for
a conversation about the economics of our business.
CLICK HERE TO SEE THE VIDEO!
Sumner Hill Association of Jamaica Plain Presents City Feed and Supply with A Good Neighbor Award 2010.
Thanks again, neighbor!
The Dish: “Farmer’s Sandwich at City Feed and Supply”
In this video clip, broadcasted on Earth Day 2010, Morgan Ward prepares the popular City Feed sandwich, The Farmers Lunch, and talks about City Feed’s recycling and composting efforts to reach Zero Waste.
"David Warner’s biggest fear was that he’d be saddled with something he hated.Warner remembers lying awake all night before the opening of City Feed and Supply."
"This place could've catered Woodstock, with their natural, organic, nitrate-free meats, cheeses and toppings piled on bread from down the road (vegetarians, skip the wannabe banh mi in favor of the superb cheddar-apple-mustard farmer's lunch sandwich). The fair-trade chai foams are fantastic, too. It's a veritable picnic basket of lunch and snack options that caters to everyone from the tree-hugging hipster grabbing some urban honey to the business dude who just wants a sub and a soda."
36th Annual Best of Boston Magazine
Urban Stand-In for a Country Store: City Feed and Supply
"At the flagship of this farmstand/gourmet grocery, load up on homey staples like cardamom-ginger gelato and organic ramps while listening to the locals jawboning over fair-trade French roast."
"Pick up grown-in-New-England organic goods at one of our favorite local spots: City Feed and Supply (672 Centre Street, Jamaica Plain; 617-524-1700). For a lunch that won't bust your gut, try veggies from Enterprise Farm; goat cheese from Lazy Lady Farm in Westfield, Vermont; and a pint (or two) of Maple's organic gelato. It's only natural."
Sumner Hill Association of Jamaica Plain Present City Feed and Supply with A Good Neighbor Award 2009. Thanks neighbor!
Mayor Thomas M. Menino today honored City Feed and Supply of Jamaica Plain with a green award for their commitment to promoting environmentally sustainable practices in the City of Boston during the Third Annual Mayor’s Green Awards.
City Feed and Supply is a local sustainable grocery and retail shop in Jamaica Plaint that reflects and serves the needs of the neighborhood that sustains it. The store thrives on being a pedestrian market in a dense urban area with nearby public transportation. City Feed provides healthy food from local producers and works to build and maintain relationships with its employees, customers and vendors to better the local community.
Learn more about our sustainability efforts and recognition here!
One thing JP’s Centre Street didn’t have was a destination, a place to hang at 8 a.m. or 8 p.m. Problem solved with City Feed and Supply’s second JP spot.
In demand: City Feed and Supply
At City Feed and Supply in Jamaica Plain you can stock up on healthy provisions, such as Annie's organic mac 'n' cheese or Tofurkey. But the trendy grocery is also a sandwich counter and Fair Trade coffee bar. The menu runs the gamut from vegetarian to seriously meaty.
Try the Italian sandwich of mortadella, capicola, nitrate-free salami and provolone garnished with picante peppers, pepperoncini and sweet balsamic vinegar. The ham and cheese is a multigrain sandwich filled with Ozark-style ham, sliced pickles and all-natural, farm-made Swiss. It's pressed to piping-hot perfection.
We dined at a small, wooden bar by the windows overlooking Centre Street. For dessert we enjoyed a City Feed Oreo - a larger, house-baked version of the famous cookie that features a buttercream icing so sugary that one bite suffices.
Triumph of the Dill
The first batches were just experiments: a few cucumbers, a nub of horseradish, black peppercorns, fistfuls of fresh garlic, a fortnight of moonlight. But the brine Stewrt Golomb was brewing up in his East Village apartment packed to much punch to keep in his tiny fridge alone. Now a full-fledge buff, the New York transplant brines enough Super Dill! And Pretty Hot! Pickles to stock City Feed and Supply’s shelves and satisfy demand from local restaurants. We can’t totally dismiss Manhattan’s Jewish delis here , but should those famous cukes ever come into competition with Golomb’s bracingly dilly batch, they’d be in quite a… well, you know.
Yankee Travel Guide 2009 Editors Choice Best Local-Foods Store
Part country store, part hipster hangout, City Feed showcases tasty foods created all over New England. And don't forget the café. If you leave without digging into the #9 "Farmer's Lunch" (extra-sharp cheddar with grain mustard, sliced Granny Smith apples, pickled green tomatoes, and red-leaf lettuce on focaccia), we can't be responsible for what you're missing.
City Feed and Supply is a vegetarian's dream come true. Browse the compact but well-stocked shelves for a grand selection of fruits and locally grown veggies, but don't miss the locally produced tofu. They're best known for sandwiches like Tofurky Deli Slices ($6.59), the "Eight Fold Path"—with firm tofu, hoisin sauce and matchstick carrots—or the PB&J with a choice of Massachusetts ruby or blueberry jam, all good to go.
Nestled among the colorful homes in Jamaica Plain's Stony Brook neighborhood is City Feed and Supply. With its large front windows and wooden interior, City Feed is reminiscent of a general store from yesteryear. And while City Feed does offer some less-than-natural foods (like sodas), the focus is mainly on the organic, the fairly traded and the local. Their wooden shelves are filled with everything from organic cocoa powder to natural stain removers.
There is even a glass case offering chilled local cheeses.
But what really stands out about this shop is its in-house café, serving Fair Trade coffee and tea, and sandwiches featuring local ingredients. You can park your tuchus inside on one of a few wooden chairs and nosh on a veggie BLT, or you can leave with groceries in one hand and a Fair Trade chai latte in the other—well-fed either way.
City Feed and Supply, Jamaica Plain's new kid on the block located at 670 Centre Street, is officially opening its doors on Monday, Aug. 11. From the outside, this place looks like it's going to be my new JP hangout. The popular local convenience store and café has taken over the former Videosmith storefront on Centre Street.
This is a much larger second site for the company (with their first location on Boylston Street). This Centre Street location (in the 3,000-square foot space on the corner of Seaverns Ave.) includes tables for enjoying a sandwich and plenty of windows for people watching.
City Feed targets the "Ped Set" or the pedestrian traffic strolling up and down Centre Street.
These days, Whole Foods are as ubiquitous as Starbucks and the "organic" label is tossed around as loosely as Britney Spears’s children. Tired of all the posturing? Put down your brown-rice sushi and get thee to Jamaica Plain’s CITY FEED AND SUPPLY, a throwback to the days of mom-and-pop corner stores. The neighborhood grocery, owned by Dave Warner and his wife, Kristine, is just a quick jaunt from the Stony Brook T Stop (more than 90 percent of their customers walk to the shop). It’s a welcome haven for local residents who pop in to buy organic and fair-trade coffee, locally made butter, and tasty sandwiches with fixin’s culled from local farms.
Unripened garden tomatoes can be put to delicious use. Shoppers at City Feed and Supply in Jamaica Plain can get their green-tomato fix another way -- pickled. City Feed's owners, Kristine Cortese and David Warner, asked neighbor Deborah Taylor, who makes and sells her spreadable fruits under the label Deborah's Kitchen, to use their recipe and make a product with their store's name on it. The results are tart slices of soft green tomato that City Feed also puts on its "Farmer's Lunch" sandwich, where it's combined with sharp cheddar and green apples.
At City Feed and Supply, a corner grocery in Jamaica Plain, the Farmer's Lunch sandwich is served on a bacci roll, which is about as big as a boccie ball and tough to wrap your maw around. Not a terrible trait, since taking small bites makes the sandwich last longer. The Farmer's Lunch is tasty: full of sharp cheese and Granny Smith apples, grainy mustard, and slices of pickled green tomatoes, which a local woman makes exclusively for the store. You can chew away at it on the benches in front of City Feed, enjoy the spring air, and chat with the passersby, all of which will restore your strength to get back to the fields -- or the office.
Whether you’re a full-time vegetarian or not, it’s easy to forget those carnivorous cravings when you’re munching on meatless sandwiches from Jamaica Plain’s City Feed and Supply.
Another indie JP landmark, a small urban grocery store featuring great (and healthful) deli sandwiches and an eclectic selection of locally made products, locally grown foods, and national organic brands. City Feed is hidden deep on a pretty residential side street, but a second location is new, at 672 Centre St., in the heart of JP center.
Jamaica Plain residents Joseph Porcelli and Dan Goldsbury are on a mission to reduce waste - one paper cup at a time.
The spark came when Porcelli noticed two friends drinking coffee at a neighborhood grocery store - City Feed and Supply in Jamaica Plain - out of mugs they had brought from home. Why not get the whole community to do the same? Porcelli thought. He teamed up with Goldsbury, a like-minded neighbor, and together they launched the Mug Project, with the simple goal of encouraging people to use mugs, not disposable cups.
City Feed and Supply, where Porcelli grabs his morning cup, has become a gathering spot for the project. City Feed was already offering a 25-cent discount on coffee to customers who brought mugs, but the project has helped increase participation, said manager Jeff Morin. "Now that we've stepped it up and actively spread this, more people are bringing mugs," Morin said.
Join the revolution at mugproject.com
Loan, advice program gives food-service entrepreneurs a helping hand with dreams.
David Warner, who owns City Feed and Supply with his wife, Kristine Cortese, said a loan from the program[ Sam Adams Brewery & Accion U.S.A. "Brewing the American Dream" ]was crucial to helping the eight-year-old company open a second location in Jamaica Plain in August.
The new location -- which is bigger than the company's Boylston Street store -- involved converting a vacant video store into a coffee and sandwich shop. Warner noted that City Feed and Supply hit its crucial second year just after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks caused financial markets to slump badly, but the company still managed to prosper. He's confident that it will succeed in the current recession, too.
"I don't know when you stop being a start-up. I guess when you stop growing," Warner said. "We've grown every year -- some years we've grown less than in other years, but we've always found a way to keep growing."
Read more about the Loan program by Sam Adams Brewery: http://www.samueladams.com/btad/
A look at the best outdoor skating Boston has to offer
After ice skating at the Kelley rink in J.P. go to City Feed and Supply!
Just like in the frontier days, the City Feed and Supply (66A Boylston St., Jamaica Plain. 617-524-1657) offers an eclectic assortment of items in a cozy community hub. The lovingly renovated building has a lived-in feel, and people linger over coffee and sandwiches from the deli-style counter at the handful of small tables.
Being friendly, calling customers by name, and having great locations make these grocery stores competitive.
In Jamaica Plain, the tiny City Feed and Supply strives for its own kind of balance, tilting toward natural foods but not excluding Doritos and Coke. Neighborhood couple Kristine Cortese and David Warner opened in 2000 after seeing a vacant storefront. They were pining for a good cup of coffee and failed to convince any of their friends to do what they ended up doing themselves.
A new business fosters community
In her previous life as a freelance painter of theater scenery, Kristine Cortese commuted to work on the Orange Line. On her way to the Stony Brook T stop, she often stopped at a neighborhood convenience store on Boylston Street.
When the space became vacant, she told her boyfriend, David Warner, that the location would be ideal for a store that better reflected the tastes of the changing neighborhood.
Warner became intrigued by the idea. He had lived in Jamaica Plain for seven years and had seen the area developing.
"It was a matter of observation. . .seeing what businesses were here, and which did well and which started to trip up a bit," Warner said in a recent interview.
"Also, knowing what the taste of my friends and myself were . . .I observed that the business that was here before didn’t’ have anything I wanted to buy, and I was interested in opening a store that had things that I wanted to buy."
During a year of research and planning, Warner discovered that a series of neighborhood stores had occupied the space going back to the 1930s, including the Boylston Superette.
He worked with the JP Neighborhood Development Council on shaping a business plan and finding resources, and 31/2 months ago Warner and Cortese, now husband and wife, unveiled City Feed and Supply.
Although he had run a small record label for a friend’s jazz band, putting out CDs and booking a few shows, Warner had never run his own business. But his experience doing residential remodeling for a construction company proved useful.
"I was able to do all the work in here myself, and it was in pretty bad shape," Warner said. "I built all the shelves and the counter. And then lots of paint, because it was just one sort of institutional green."
Cortese’s skill as an artist transformed the space with country store ambiance. She painted signs and gave the trim a faux finish that matches the look of antique wainscoting. Her vision drew on childhood memories of her grandfather’s small store, Cortese Feed and Grain, in New Mexico.
She remembered her grandfather, a cattle rancher, processing and mixing grains in a store that served as the town center for people spread out on local ranches. Cowboys drank coffee and roped bags of feed with their lassos while they talked.
The decision to move beyond a standard convenience store to a shop with more personality resulted from a conscious choice about the kind of business Cortese and Warner wanted to open in the neighborhood they call home.
"If I were coming at this strictly from a business point of view, I probably would sell cigarettes and lottery tickets; I probably wouldn’t have a seating area," Warner said. "I would have just more stuff to buy. But that’s not how I wanted to practice business. And the whole idea here is to have the place be welcoming and comfortable. This is more of a social sort of atmosphere."
The store is not just unusual because of a semicircle of seats, where customers can chat over coffee, or because of the bulletin board that keeps customers informed of local happenings. The store is more health food store than convenience store, with shelves of soy milk and tofu, as well as foods representing the ethnic diversity of the neighborhood, including Goya products and plantain chips.
Fresh brewed coffee is available, as well as muffins and bagels. Warner and Cortese support other local businesses, from the Jamaica Plain-based couple who make the hummus, pita bread and baba ganoush the store carries, to a local tofu producer. The store also gets fresh produce from a local farm. Cortese and Warner are happy to pass on information about the family farmers who grow the produce they sell to customers who ask.
Warner and Cortese realized that Jamaica Plain was particularly well suited to support a business that encouraged community.
"People are loyal in that way. If they believe in what you’re doing, they’ll patronize you and that has definitely worked in our favor," Warner said. "And we kind of of relied on that, too. We might not be able to pull of something like this in downtown Boston, even though the income levels might be there for it. People are not into neighborhood food stores so much as they are in Jamaica Plain, which is why we want to be here in the first place, and which is what makes it the neighborhood that we love living in."
"People have been great, really supportive, really happy that we’re here," Cortese said. "And it’s so nice to actually make a space with a certain intention and then have people really use it for that. There are families that come and hang out and eat their ice cream bars, and it’s really nice. Because you don’t always know if you’re going to make a place people will actually feel comfortable enough to hang out, so it’s nice to see that that was successful."
Zaina Shah, who just moved to Jamaica Plain and lives near the store, sat and read while drinking coffee on a Saturday morning. "I’ll come in to get coffee or if I need something. It’s super convenient, and they’re really nice. And they have really good coffee."
Stacey Barr, who is house-sitting for a friend in Jamaica Plain this summer, used the store’s bulletin board to advertise her business, Pet Girl, "I come in her twice a day," she said. "I can’t eat milk products, and most convenience stores don’t have alternatives. They’re very chatty and nice in here, and they have been very welcoming."
Future plans for the store include displaying the work of more local artists and taking part in the Jamaica Plain Open Studios.
City Feed and Supply brings a country charm to Jamaica Plain
Just a block away from the Stony Brook T stop, City Feed and Supply brings a country charm to Jamaica Plain. Nestled on Boylston Street between Danforth and Chestnut, City Feed is decorated with a classic and inviting exterior of blue walls and wooden boxed window panes. Inside, its bold red-stained wood counter and free-standing shelving make this corner store a warm, charming and hip local gem.
With an eye on organic, much of City Feed’s supply is as good for you as it is delicious, from tofu pops to blended juices, multiple brands of soy milk to bags of plantain chips. This store combines gourmet health food sensibilities with standard staples like newspapers, coffee, potatoes and bacon.
Proprietors David Warner and Kristine Cortese opened City Feed in May to bring convenience and community awareness to the Stony Brook corner of JP. A chalk message board announces that the annual JP Pond Lantern Walk has been postponed, a cork bulletin board has messages about baby-sitting services, church sales, and housing needs tacked to it. In addition to promoting local activities and foods, the store carries CDs and displays visual work from local artists. City Feed is also the sole sponsor of the first ZipCar (a collectively owned car) in the neighborhood.
Beyond being a unique spot for last minute feel-good groceries, the store also doubles as a local coffee counter, offering up steaming Fair Trade coffee products. Early morning T commuters regularly line up for cups of politically correct java (with soy milk upon request) as the in-house sound system plays music from bands like Sea and Cake and Stereolab. For those not in a rush, there are retro-red chairs in the storefront window to sit, sip and browse through Adbusters, Z, of Shambhala Sun. Or watch passersby from the bench outside on the sidewalk, playing with the inevitable dogs leashed to the doorknobs by customers. This high-minded corner store packs a lot of concept into a simple idea, and has won the love of the locals it serves in the process.
Minding our own business: Store offers urban convenience with rural charm
Central JP—Residents of the area around Stony Brook Staion are saddling up their shoe leather and ambling down to the recently opened City Feed and Supply as word gets out about the innovative convenience store located at 66A Boylston St.
Blending the nostalgic ambiance of the rural general store with a touch of urban chic, City Feed and Supply offers stock ranging from organic food to local art.
"I love it here," said owner David Warner, a seven-year JP resident, as he enthusiastically detailed his efforts to create a "real neighborhood store," adding, "JP feels like the better parts of a small town. There’s a sense of community, neighborliness and neighborhood pride."
"Business has been great and we’ve had a lot of support fromt eh community," said manager Nancy Pinchera, who lives nearby. In addition to traditional items, the store carries natural and organic foods, fresh Iggy’s bread and pastries and aromatic brewed coffee.
Once the growing season starts, said Warner, the store will stock locally grown produce from Stillman Farm’s Community Supported Agriculture program in JP.
"I was ecstatic when I heard and organic store was opening down the street," said neighbor Phil Theise. "This is an awesome place, and it gets better each time I come here."
The unusual name of the store comes from a rural general store in New Mexico once owned by the grandfather of Warner’s fiancée, Kristine Cortese. In those days, feed stores were where folks in the community met. Warner, who grew up in a rural town himself, said he wants to continue that tradition.
"I also want to encourage any local artists, musicians or writers to come talk to me about exhibiting or selling the ir work," said Warner, who pointed out that part of creating a neighborhood store includes promoting the work of local residents.
The store offers a community bulletin board, a hitching post for customers’ dogs and a comfortable nook next to the front window where customers can relax with friends or just watch the world go by.
"This is a place where neighbors can come together," agreed Nicole Sanchez, who stopped by on her "daily field trip" with her 6-month old daughter. "Faith just loves this store," Sanchez said. "The staff is just magnificent. Everyone should come and buy lots of stuff," she said with a smile.
Two local 8-year-olds said they are doing their part to support the business as they unloaded armfuls of stuff onto the redstained maple counter.
"It’s so close, and they have our favorite whole organic milk," said Stephen Cronin.
"Yeah, they have great food here. We’re lucky to have this store in the neighborhood," added Samuel Weinhardt.
With his background in construction, Warner said he saw the potential for the site—which has been some sort of variety store since the 1930s. With help from friends and neighbors planning the interior, he opened eight weeks ago. Warner noted his fiancée helped with sign work and Kevin Cradock of Cradock Woodworking assisted with constructing the unique counter top and shelves.
Warner lauded the JP Neighborhood Development Corporation for helping him secure a lease and getting access to financing through Citezens Bank, the storefront improvement program of the city’s Office of Business Development and the Small Business Administration.
*Photo by Lori DeSantis