At Home with Hadlyme Country Market
By CHARMAGNE ECKERT
It’s a crisp morning in early winter; and though there is no snow, frost coats the greenery lending a festive air. The small porch that runs along the front of the Hadlyme Country Market of Hadlyme, Connecticut is bathed in sunlight, making it a tempting spot to sit, even in the frigid temperatures. The door swings open with a welcoming jingle, and music and laughter spill out along with the fragrance of baked goods and freshly brewed coffee.
Lisa Bakoledis and Susan Raible Birch purchased the Hadlyme Country Market in 2012 as a labor of love. Bakoledis and Birch met a number of years ago while working together for a clothing designer and soon became fast friends. Though they didn’t know how it would come about, they were certain that one day they would have a business partnership together. Bakoledis, who grew up in Old Lyme, eventually settled in Hadlyme; moving first into the apartment situated above the market and finally purchasing the house next door. Appropriately, it was the house that had been built for Carrie Bell Hawthorne, daughter of the Hadlyme market’s original owner, Lee Luther Brockway who established a country store in the present building in the early 1900’s. Birch, although originally from New York, has lived in the area for over thirty years and considers it to be her true home. When the possibility of purchasing the store came up, neither Bakoledis nor Birch hesitated.
When Bakoledis and Birch took over the venture their intention was to recover the authentic ambiance that they felt was unique to this historic business. Beginning with the more prosaic tasks such as bringing the wiring up to code to support the necessary modern refrigeration units, they set about restoring the interior to what it might have looked like circa 1905. They had planned to utilize existing materials wherever possible; but unfortunately it became evident that much of original flooring, ceiling, and cabinetry were too damaged to be salvaged. To handle the renovations, Bakoledis and Birch hired local builder, Erik Block. Block grew up on Ferry Road, walking distance from the market; and like Bakoledis and Birch, has a passion for natural wood and historical authenticity. He also brought the nuance of a personal connection with fond childhood memories of summers spent sitting on the porch of the establishment eating sweets. He located a wooden counter from an old apothecary shop in upstate New York and installed it to run nearly the entire length of the market where it serves as the coffee bar. A smaller piece designed to accommodate the cash register area that extends above the candy display was then built to match, further enhancing the historical feel. To complete the effect, bead board was used on the ceiling, reclaimed oak planks on the floor, and light fixtures reminiscent of those that might have been found in an early industrial era shop were installed. The coolers where beverages and dairy products are kept have been rendered less modern with bead board framing, and Birch hunted till she found handsome display cases with curved glass fronts to feature pastries and prepared food items. The attention to detail has paid off. Stepping across the threshold of the classic wooden storefront is like being transported back to the beginning of the 20th century.
Hadlyme Country Market is a place where memories are forged and resurrected. A high table installed in the front window provides a place to perch on a sturdy stool with a cup of Ashlawn Farms coffee and chat with friends or browse one of the books from the informal lending library. There are a number of unique gift items including note cards featuring nearby scenes rendered by area artists, books by local writers, and an elegantly crafted calendar of watercolors reflecting the Hadlyme region through the seasons. A rendition of Lacy (Bakoledis’ black and white speckled pet chicken) perched contentedly on her nest has become the company logo, and Lacy’s cozy image even graces an assortment of hand crafted ceramic bowls custom made by a neighborhood potter.
Beyond the congenial atmosphere, customers of the Hadlyme Country Market come for the great selection of specialty foods, many of which are produced in nearby Connecticut communities. A large basket of gleaming red apples rests on a bi-level table amidst packets of gluten free spice cookies, and a cast iron hen nestles among bags of cranberry granola. Maple syrup from East Hampton, the best honey ever from East Lyme, Maple Kettle Corn and Cush’s Salsa – both from neighboring Old Lyme – Big Nancy’s Biscotti out of Guilford, and Deep River potato chips from across the river are all prominently displayed. For the decadent sweet tooth, the market has recently begun carrying the butter rich desserts from Dagmar’s Desserts of Old Saybrook; and though closed to the public in the winter months, Salem Valley Farms provides their velvety ice cream to the market year-round. To add the perfect habanero based kick to a recipe, D-Train’s award winning hot sauce from Westbrook is displayed front and center. You can then cool the heat with a soda from Foxon Park of East Haven. Bakoledis and Birch are particularly proud to offer fresh local eggs (which they also use in their products), and in the summer Savitsky Farm from Colchester sends a pickup truck loaded with crisp vegetables to supply their Hadlyme neighbors.
Those up at 5:00 AM will be greeted by Bakoledis as she slides just-baked pastries and hard rolls for breakfast sandwiches from the oven. A blueberry and cheese Danish or fried egg on a fresh roll makes a fortifying companion to a cup of hot, fragrant coffee or tea. By lunchtime, homemade soups are available; and the rolls are now employed to contain fillings assembled to the customer’s specifications, or to make up one of the signature sandwiches. The Gillette features rare roast beef accented with D-Train mayo, the 4-Corners is roasted turkey breast dressed in caramelized onion relish, and the Selden III (chicken breast with pesto and asiago cheese) is one of the popular new Paninis that are now available.
Along with prepared foods, Hadlyme Country Market offers a solid selection of more basic food items. Providing the ingredients needed for a full dinner was one of the objectives for Bakoledis and Birch,so fresh produce, pasta, flour, rice, dairy products, and other ingredients are available. In addition, there are sundries and even the necessities for furry companions, including canned food and kibble for cats and dogs and small bags of kitty litter.
While Hadlyme Country Market is popular for its local delicacies and as a convenient place to pick up fresh eggs or a bottle of milk, it is the cordiality of its proprietors that forms the real attraction for customers. Both Bakoledis and Birch are familiar with their patrons, and Bakoledis greets nearly everyone by name. Neighbors chat and share photos of grandchildren and pets, town politics are bandied, and children investigate the candy selection. This is a local destination with an open invitation to visitors – a relaxed setting where the comfortable warmth of Hadlyme can be enjoyed along with a great sandwich, homemade soup, or indulgent pastry – whether one lives around the corner or is exploring this picturesque historic area for the first time.
Hadlyme Country Market is located at:
1 Ferry Road, Hadlyme, CT 06439
Phone: (860) 526-3188
Hours: Monday-Saturday 5:00 AM to 6:00 PM, Sunday 5:00 AM to 5:00 PM
For additional information: http://hadlymecountrymarket.com
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