Big changes underway inside Twelve Tribes Community buildings

Source: Salmon Press Media

by Edith Tucker

October 14, 2015

LANCASTER — John Brosseau, a skilled carpenter and general manager of the Simon the Tanner retail store at 55 Main St. that is owned and operated by the Twelve Tribes Community, now predicts that the Yellow Deli restaurant will be open when the daffodils bloom in front of the Civil War monument in Soldier’s Park.

The renovation project to turn the former Simon’s Bargain Center into a Yellow Deli with the capability of matching the menu at other Yellow Delis, including Island Pond and Rutland, Vt., Boulder, Colo., and Oneonta, N.Y., has taken at least four months longer than expected, primarily for two reasons, Brosseau explained.

First, the building had more problem areas to address than anticipated, including digging out the basement, including boulders, and pouring a concrete slab, reinforcing foundation walls, and replacing and repairing beams and other structural elements — most of which has called for handwork.

Second, copying the Yellow Deli in Rutland, Vt., and at Stoneybrook Organic Farm in Hillsboro, Va., near Harper’s Ferry, the Community started to support a Hikers’ Hostel, designed primarily for thru-hikers tramping the Appalachian Trail (AT).

This summer some 500 hikers, 70 percent men and 30 percent women, spent nights at the newly opened-up space on the second floor. The Twelve Tribes operated a shuttle bus that picks hikers up in Crawford and Pinkham Notches as well as in Gorham.

When the hostel is finished it will boast separate accommodations for men and women, each with its own bathroom with showers, a kitchenette, a small lounge, bunkrooms, and combination washer-dryers. Middlebury College donated 30 lightly used mattresses, and the Community is looking for bunk bed donations.

Most hikers came with sufficient funds to buy dinner at nearby local restaurants — Scorpio’s, House of Pizza, or supper and a movie at the Rialto Theatre and the Community supplies breakfast.

“We’re bringing business into town,” Brosseau said. “We only had two troublesome guests — a couple of men who were belligerent while standing on a street corner — and that was our only negative experience.”

The Community is working with the L.F.D. to ensure that adequate exits, fire doors and so forth are installed.

“The design of the Yellow Deli turned out to be organic,” Brosseau said.

Originally planned to have seating on only one floor, the layout now includes an atrium-like opening to both the second and third floors in front of the new first-floor stone-faced wood-burning fireplace. In addition to second-floor booths plus tables and chairs, a small third-floor space is being created that is large enough for a single table for 10 or 12 diners.

A skylight has already been added to bring daylight into these handsome renovated spaces.

An ultra-clean kitchen will be built at the rear of the first-floor Deli as well as a separate dishwashing area, both designed to keep these functions apart to help ensure good sanitation.

A bar will feature lattes, espressos, and smoothies, and some of the built-in booths will have rustic shingled “shanty” coverings.

Plaster was removed to expose a handsome brick wall, barn beams were installed, and mullions are being added to some existing windows, plus a variety of very distinctive woods: barn boards, lumber recovered from Boston’s Kenmore Square Sears building, reversed wainscoting and a couple of barn doors.

Two spiral staircases will also be installed, plus a hand-operated dumbwaiter with a copper speaking tube that should make the workload of second- and third-floor servers doable. These spaces will only be open in the busy summer and early fall months, when the Community expects their complex to be a destination.

Brosseau noted that since many highly desirable items did not sell out at the Labor Day Tent sale, he plans to open a Christmas season “pop-up” bargain store in late November.

Something special will also be planned for the town’s traditional “Old Tyme Christmas.” Once its open, the Yellow Deli will offer the same menu as its counterparts around the country and their three overseas operations. Belgian waffles with whipped cream is a breakfast favorite, as is the new “Spinwich” that features spinach, eggs, and cheese.

Fifteen different breads will be baked in the Deli, but only for its own menu, not for return sale.

Brosseau sees only synergy with the nearby Polish Princess Bakery and no competition. The general manager first came to live in Lancaster in 1998, then was in Boston from 2002 to 2008, and then returned after completing that six-year Bay State stint.

Simon the Tanner general manager John Brosseau of Lancaster, shown on the second floor under a third floor skylight, recently showed off the work now in progress at Main Street’s south end to create a multi-story Yellow Deli in the former Simon’s Bargain Center and to transform some second-floor rooms into a well-designed Appalachian Trail (AT) thru-hikers’ hostel for seasonal use. (Photo by Edith Tucker)

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