New Restaurant to Open in Spring 2020 on the Basement Level of Thornes Marketplace
Patria will offer fine dining with a relaxed and casual approach
NORTHAMPTON—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.
Thayer and Fuhrman expect to open Patria in the spring of 2020. Currently, they are renovating the dining room and kitchen to create a more functional flow and enhance the décor with new furnishings and lighting.
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,” Thayer said.
Thayer said Patria will offer fine dining with a relaxed and casual approach. “We don’t want to seem elitist or exclusive,” he said. “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,” Thayer said.
Service and quality will be a major focus of the restaurant, and Thayer and Fuhrman will work to create an atmosphere that is comfortable and adventurous. Thayer will use as much local produce and other ingredients as is possible.
Thayer, 32, and Fuhrman, 29, live in Northampton.
Thayer 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, Thayer returned to this area with Fuhrman 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 Thayer formed the basis of what he now considers to be his style. He said patrons of Patria can expect some of that Asian flair.
Fuhrman 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 Thayer was helping to launch Petit Crenn, Fuhrman 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,” she said. “Aaron and I worked well together.”
At Patria, Fuhrman will take on managerial duties and oversee staff concerns.
Previously, Thayer and Fuhrman 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.
“We are pleased to welcome Abby and Aaron to the Thornes community,” said Thornes Co-President Richard Madowitz. “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.”
To learn more about Thornes Marketplace, visit thornesmarketplace.com.
Thornes Marketplace has been the cornerstone of downtown Northampton and at the center of the Main Street shopping district for more than a century. Built in 1873, it holds 55,000 square feet of space for merchants and includes features like pressed tin ceilings and hardwood floors.