Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Farmers Market Growing in Bedford

On June 16th, Bedford will gain a Famers Market. It will be based in the Depot Park area right next to The Bikeway Source at the Intersection of Railroad avenue and South Road (across from the end of the Minutemain Bikeway. The Bedford Farmers’ Market will be open every Monday from 2-6:30pm from June 16th through October 20th.

While now covered in snow, come June this will be the location of the Bedford Farmer's Market. It will feature 8-10 local vendors offering fresh produce, eggs, meats, fish and more along with local performers.

The actual market will be held on the grassy area and the parking area adjacent to the Bikeway Source. Parking will be in the municipal lot adjacent to the Bikeway Source who has agreed to make several bike racks available for anyone who comes via bike.

I recently spoke with Susan Grieb, Founder of the non-profit Bedford Farmers Market. Susan decided to move forward with the idea after attending Lexington Farmers Market and reading The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan. She has alway thought it important to take good care of the Earth.She started working on the idea in early November and has been spending about 4 hours per day on it. In December she was joined by co-founders Moira Sarson and Barbara Purchia. To date they have organized a team of over 1 dozen volunteers, all from Bedford.

Her goal with the market is to provide locally grown organic food along with a community place where you go to meet friends and take advantage of open space. Along with the food, Susan wants to educate the Bedford community about eating healthfully. The Market will include books and demonstration programs to achieve this. Susan also would like to have some volunteer performers like a magician, jugglers or street performers to provide entertainment to liven things up. In addition, nonprofit and community organizations are invited to have a information table.

The Bedford Farmer's Market plans to have 8-10 merchant booths on board by the time it opens. In addition to produce, the Market will also feature fresh seafood along with grass fed Chicken, Lamb, Beef and maybe Pork.

Some of the local merchants include Chip-In Farm, Busa Farm, Globe Fish Company, Stillman's Farm and others. It will be cash only. The Merchant booths will be covered in case of rain.

The actual land is owned by Ken Larson who has deeded a right of way to the town who now has it as municipal parking, so it comes under town land. Susan mentioned the town is not actively involved but is supportive. In fact March 10th should be the last planing meeting with the town.

I asked Susan why did they choose Mondays? She mentioned that the vendors like earlier in the week as people stock up for the week. If you have it later in the week many people go away for the weekend and tend not to buy as much.

The Farmer's Market is a great idea for Bedford and will be a welcome addition. I think it would be useful to somehow get a display case or a few signs up on The Minuteman Bikeway to make users aware of it. I also think it would be useful to let many of the local companies in the nearby office parks know about the Market as many of the workers are not from Bedford and will probably not be aware they can pick up fresh produce and meats on the way home after work.

Along with Bedford, many other local towns also offer Farmer's Markets. Please click here to see a list. My only recommendation is to avoid the ones on the Mass Turnpike. A few years ago, I made the mistake of stopping on the Mass Turnpike after seeing Farmer's Market signs only to find there was no produce at all.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Rebuilt Bedford McDonalds Adding McCafe Coffee Bar

The McDonald's in Bedford which closed on October 15th last year, has been demolished and totally rebuild. The new restaurant which is finishing up construction, is hoping to open by the end of February. While the new restaurant has the same number of seats (70) as the old one, just about everything else is different and updated.

Construction continues on the new McDonald's. The new restaurant has a much more modern appearance than the original one built in 1971.

New Dual Drive-Thrus
I spoke with Tim Moulton, Director of Operations for the Bedford McDonald's about the changes the new restaurant will bring. Tim mentioned one of the biggest problems with the previous restaurant was that the drive-thru would get backed up with cars during the busy lunch time rush, occasionally spilling out on to Great Road, tying up traffic. In studying the drive through configuration, they realized that the order point (where you place your order) was the bottleneck as people sometimes took a while to decide what they wanted, while the pay window and food pick up window flowed smoothly. To combat this problem, the new McDonalds has dual (side by side) order points so they can take two orders at the same time. These two lanes then move in to a single lane for payment and food pickup. Tim is confident the new drive through configuration will improve order speed, traffic flow and virtually eliminate backups on to Great Road.

Exterior Changes
There are other improvement to the outside as well. The number of parking spaces has been reduced. A sidewalk has been added to the back of the McDonald's lot on Shawsheen Avenue. This extends the sidewalk on Shawnsheen from the Bedford Plaza Hotel to the Great Road Shell Station. On the front side, there will be more grass, some flowers and the addition of a few trees. Tim is also adding a picnic table and benches so customers can eat outside in the warmer weather. A Bike rack will also be available.

The new restaurant features an updated brick design along with the latest McDonald's logos and branding. The interior has been totally revamped. Click on the image for a larger view.

Interior Changes
The biggest changes appear to be the interior. While in the past it seemed McDonald's was designed to get you in and out as fast as possible, the new focus is to appear more like a regular restaurant and less like fast food. Like Starbucks, McDonald's wants to encourage people to spend more time and linger. To accomplish this, the new restaurant will feature a fireplace, recessed lightning, several large screen televisions and WiFi internet access.

McCafe Coffee Bar
Along with the changes, the Bedford McDonalds will also feature some new menu items. The biggest additions appear to be speciality coffee. While McDonalds has offered Paul Newman's organic coffees for several years now, the new restaurant will feature a "McCafe" Coffee Bar offering gourmet cappuccino, espresso, lattes, iced mochas and more. Designed to compete directly with Dunkin' Donuts and Starbucks, you will be able to see your coffee being made and the prices are expected to be lower. The McCafe coffee bar will be one of the first in the area. Eventually, McDonald's plans to open coffee bars in most of it's 14,000 locations across the United States.

Grand Opening
The official grand opening (the restaurant will most likely open a few days earlier) is scheduled for the afternoon of March 4th and will feature a fund raiser where 25% of the sales during a specific period will be donated for the Bedford middle school. The grand opening celebration will continue for the first month with free WiFi and prize giveaways like a 42" inch television, Bruins Tickets, a bicycle and more. There will also be some daily food specials like 59 cent cheese burgers.

When the McDonald's closed in October I noticed a big increase in business for nearby restaurants like Bedford House of Beef and KnowFat (soon to be renamed Ugrill). It will be interesting how many of these customers McDonalds gets back.

I will have an update with pictures of the new interior and the double drive-thru sometime in the next two weeks.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Asiana Bistro Now Open in Bedford

This week, Asiana Bistro located in the old Boston Market location at 200 Great Road finally opened. The restaurant offers a very wide selection of Chinese and Japanese dishes (including Sushi) along with Thai and Malaysia specialties. As previously reported, Asiana Bistro currently offers lunch specials and is planning to offer delivery within the next month or so.
The interior has been entirely redone and bears no resemblance to the former Boston Market.

The last few years have seen several new Asian restaurants in Bedford. We now have Asiana Bistro, Bamboo, Ginger, Great Wall, Lemon Tree and both Stop and Shop and Whole Foods now offer Sushi.

The restaurant also features sliding doors that can be used to create a private dining area that can be rented out for Birthdays, Company Parties as well as other special occasions.

The new restaurant has a total of 88 seats plus take out and eventually delivery.
In addition, catering is also available.