Helping Thornes Announce a New Tenant

 In Blog

I partner with Thornes Marketplace in Northampton, Massachusetts, helping to brainstorm some of its PR strategy. I also write and distribute press releases for the popular, historic shopping center. This blog was originally a press release that has been gobbled up by local media. If you live in the Valley, I bet you’ve seen the stories in the local papers and on MassLive!

Aaron Thayer, a chef with experience at exclusive, fine dining establishments in Boston and San Francisco—and at Coco & the Cellar Bar in Easthampton—will open a restaurant called Patria in Thornes Marketplace with his business partner and wife, Abby Fuhrman.

Patria will be located on the basement level in the space formerly occupied by ConVino, which closed in August 2019.

Aaron and Abby expect to open Patria in the spring of 2020. Currently, they are renovating the dining room and kitchen to create more functional flow and enhance the décor with new furnishings and lighting.

“We hope you join us in extending a warm welcome to Aaron and Abby!” says Richard M. Madowitz, the owner and property manager of Thornes. “We look forward to dining with them, and we are pleased to be able to offer another attractive dining option to residents of the Valley.”

Key in creating a new workflow is a restructuring of the dining room and kitchen to account for the fact that Patria will be focused more on food service, whereas ConVino’s emphasis, as a wine bar, was on beverage sales. “We want to increase usable space,” Aaron says. 

He says Patria will offer fine dining with a relaxed and casual approach. “We don’t want to seem elitist or exclusive,” he adds. “We’re taking the things I’ve learned about fine dining and translating them to a more approachable dining experience.”

Patria will specialize in large, family style roasts, fresh pastas, and vegetable dishes that will all be sharable. 

“We’ll start out with a recognizable menu to gain trust and build comfort. As people get to know us, we’ll expand peoples’ palates and bring in some more unique flavors and ingredients,” Aaron says.

Service and quality will be a major focus of the restaurant, and Aaron and Abby will work to create an atmosphere that is comfortable and adventurous. Aaron will use as much local produce and other ingredients as is possible.

Aaron, 32, and Abby, 29, live in Northampton. 

Aaron grew up in Hadley and knew he wanted to be a chef when he was a child. He has an associate degree in culinary arts and a bachelor’s in food service management from Johnson & Wales University. 

He has worked at Mooo, a high-end steakhouse in Boston; at Clio in Boston, featuring chef Ken Oringer; at the French restaurant Atelier Crenn in San Francisco, California, with three-star chef Dominique Crenn; and he helped Crenn open a second restaurant, Petit Crenn. 

After working with sous chef Michael Tusk at Quince, Aaron returned to this area with Abby in 2017 and worked at Coco & the Cellar Bar for 18 months.

It was his work at Clio with Japanese, Chinese, and Korean ingredients—such as bonito flakes, seaweed, and shiso—that Aaron formed the basis of what he now considers to be his style. He says patrons of Patria can expect some of that Asian flair.

Abby is a licensed clinical social worker with eight years in the field. She holds a master’s degree in social work from Simmons University and a bachelor’s in social work from Skidmore College. She works at Cutchins Programs for Children and Families, doing in-home therapy. 

While Aaron was helping to launch Petit Crenn, Abby worked as a reservationist at the new restaurant, making reservations, planning parties, serving as a liaison with various vendors, and filling the role of hostess. 

“I latched onto the service aspect of restaurants, marrying my social work knowledge with hospitality, in terms of managing people,” Abby says. “Aaron and I worked well together.”

At Patria, Abby will serve as general manager and oversee staff concerns.

Previously, Aaron and Abby planned to open a restaurant in Easthampton called Hunt and Gather. They bought property at 77 Union St., which formerly housed a florist shop, in August 2018. 

Because they were changing the use of the structure, the renovation estimates from contractors were cost-prohibitive. The two still own the building, leasing apartments on the upper floors. They are seeking a commercial tenant for the storefront space. 

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