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The interior of Botanica Restaurant on Railroad Street in Great Barrington, Mass. The restaurant has closed.

Popular Railroad Street cafe shuttered

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By Wednesday, Jul 24, 2019 Trade and Commerce 15

Great Barrington —After less than two years, a popular downtown cafe and coffee shop has shut its doors and put up a for-sale sign.

Botanica, a daytime cafe that offered an upscale urban atmosphere, espresso-based drinks and a wide variety of sandwiches, salads and entrées, has apparently shut down its operations.

The sign in Botanica’s window that the restaurant is for sale.

 

The storefront at 38 Railroad Street formerly housed Seeds, a housewares store. A handwritten sign was taped to the front door this week announcing that “Botanica is for sale” and provided an email address for more information but there were no customers or staff to be found.

Reached on Wednesday, co-owners Carla Blades and Adam Medina would say little about the sudden closure, including whether they expected to reopen. They said they were in negotiations with the landlord but declined to elaborate. They expected to have more information in a few days.

Co-owner Adam Medina, left, with Thomas Doyle of Assembly Coffee Roasters of Pittsfield (From Botanica Facebook page)

Landlord Richard Stanley, whose company Thirty Eight Railroad LLC owns the building, said he was not aware of the specifics of the situation and declined to say whether Botanica was behind in its rent.

“They have a good business and, like a lot of other small businesses, they just didn’t have enough capital to run the business for at least two years,” Stanley said in an interview. He declined to comment on any negotiations or what his plans might be for the space.

“I love what they’ve done and I like the product,” Stanley added. “Everyone thought it was great.” 

Botanica opened the day after Thanksgiving in 2017 to rave reviews. A review in Rural Intelligence called it “a garden of earthly delights” and described the food as “familiar, yet foreign within the context of the Berkshire victual culture.”

Non-espresso coffee was strictly pour-over. In other words, unlike most other coffee shops in town, the beans for each cup were ground on the spot and hot water was poured over the grounds and dripped directly into Botanic’s trademark red cups. That gave Botanica perhaps the freshest cup of coffee in town.

In the last few months, however, patrons say the hours and days of operation had become irregular and unpredictable. 

Medina appeared before the selectboard with attorney Nick Arienti on Sept. 25, 2017, to apply for common victualer’s and all-alcohol licenses, both of which were approved.


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15 Comments   Add Comment

  1. Jonathan Hankin says:

    SAD! They did a marvelous job of transforming that store front.

  2. Marie says:

    Darn…didn’t use my gift certificate yet. Any idea whether there is a plan for redeeming gift cards?

    1. Jerry says:

      Sorry to hijack your thread here but I have a related question. Does anyone know if I can redeem a Gypsy Joynt gift certificate at Fuel? I just found one in a pair of slacks that was lost under my recliner for a couple years.

      1. Kayemtee says:

        You might try heading to Galveston, Texas to redeem your Gypsy Joynt gift certificate. In 2017, I was pleasantly surprised to find the whole crew from Great Barrington reestablished there. Alas, no live music when I visited. They explained that lower rent enabled them to close by nine pm and still make a living.

      2. Jerry says:

        Thanks for the suggestion but If you factor in my travel, I doubt it makes any sense to go all that way just to save ten dollars on a salad served in a metal dog food bowl.

        I am going to ask at Fuel. I’m sure that the business that takes over the space has an ethical obligation to honor gift certificates from the previous occupant.

      3. Marie says:

        I wouldn’t think Fuel has anything to do with a business operated by a previous tenant of the space they now rent.

        But I do wish that local businesses would give some notice before closing, so that customers have a chance to clear up loose ends. Makes me wary of buying gift certificates from local businesses.

      4. Jerry says:

        Couldn’t disagree more, Marie. I had an apartment once where the previous tenant continued to unknowingly play my electric bill for 8 or 9 months. I sure didn’t say anything about it! Anyway it’s the same principle as the gift certificates.

  3. Laura C says:

    If a business gave notice before they closed everyone would come in at once to redeem gift certificates. I too am wary of purchasing gift certs from local businesses given this towns track record. Any funds collected from the sale of gift cards/certificates should be put in a separate account and held until they are redeemed.

    1. Jerry says:

      Couldn’t agree more. I’m sure Fuel is going to honor my Gypsy Joynt card but it is far more complicated with some of my other ones. I have 25 dollars to Cheesecake Charlie’s which became a bank so unless they are willing to redeem it for cash, I guess it’s just wasted money.

      Also I don’t know what to do with my unused Hong Kong Buffet cards. When I travel around to other towns, I bring them and look for Chinese restaurants with the same name but I haven’t found one yet.

  4. Craig Okerstrom-Lang says:

    Botanica is a wonderful & unique cafe…had magical meals there prepared by Nick Brown when he was the chef. Fabulous cocktail menu in a beautiful space. Hopefully another restauranteur can revive the space.

  5. James Selva says:

    Seems to be the norm for G.B. restaurants….Fiori did the same thing. (Also on Railroad St.)

    1. Jerry says:

      Also Cheesecake Charlie’s.

  6. concerned says:

    maybe they should have come down in Prices.

  7. anon says:

    Maybe Richard Stanley should ask for a fair price when he rents out his spaces. But of course he just seems to enjoy making his money all the while squeezing out the most of what he can from his tenants. I have lived in this town my entire life and this always keeps coming back up, you would think creating a space to nurture local business and allowing them the opportunity to grow would be the win in the long run but I guess somehow these things don’t matter when all you want is a dollar. Oh well

  8. Stephen Cohen says:

    Anon’s cheap shot is doubly worse because he or she won’t identify his or her self. You have no idea what the rent was, and no idea what was the basis for the closing. While the shutting of any business is sad, the reasons can be anything, including a failed business model, a dispute among owners, lack of competent help or health problems. Since the owners knew what the rent was when they went into the space, it seems what was created was, unfortunately, unable to sustain itself. I’m sure “anon” will provide “a space to nurture local businesses” so they can grow, If the writer wasn’t anonymous we could all apply for those cut-rate spaces. His gratuitous slur of a local businessman is reprehensible, with a whiff of an even worse agenda.

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