Seven Sisters Market Bistro opens in Hadley

The Daily Hampshire Gazette
January 21, 2013
Fran Ryan

Back when Paul Ciaglo was growing up in Hadley, his father would point out the Seven Sisters of the Holyoke Range while the two were out haying on the family farm. Today, that hayfield is home to a small buffalo herd and a new market and restaurant, with a name that pays tribute to the surrounding landscape.

Ciaglo’s new business, the Seven Sisters Market Bistro at 270 Russell St. (Route 9), combines a full-service bistro with a deli-style cafe and a small grocery store. The business is adjacent to Ciaglo’s other venture, Long Hollow Bison Farm.

The bistro began serving food on a limited schedule in October. Starting Saturday Seven Sisters will introduce its permanent schedule, from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Ciaglo said a grand opening celebration will take place on Feb. 16.

“Right now we have 40 employees but will need more as we get the market going,” Ciaglo said.

He says the three-in-one establishment, housed in a 10,000-square-foot building that also includes the barn for his bison operation, will offer foods from more than 75 local farms, including bison, beef, pork, poultry, dairy products and fresh vegetables.

“We provide foods that accommodate just about everybody including vegetarians, and people who are vegan and gluten-free,” Ciaglo said.

Homemade soups, sandwiches and a wide variety of prepared foods will be available in the cafe. The bistro will serve salads, sandwiches, burgers, pulled pork, quesadillas and pizza. It has a full liquor license, and Ciaglo says the bar will feature at least 16 locally brewed beers.

“This is all about giving people a choice,” he said. “They can come and grab something to go from the cafe, or they can sit down, relax and enjoy a meal. If they need to pick up a few things for the week’s meals, they can do that right here as well.”

Getting the business up and running has taken three years, Ciaglo says.

“The financial piece was the most difficult because we were right in the middle of a recession. For a while, nobody had an appetite for risk, so it was tough to convince the bank to finance the project,” he said. “I had to research other comparable companies with published financials, so I could show the bank how they were doing and make them see that this was not as risky as they may think.”

Financing the project involved an amount “north of $2 million,” Ciaglo said. Much of that went toward kitchen equipment, he said.

The kitchen takes up 4,000 square feet. The 3,000-square-foot bistro can accommodate 60 people, while the similarly sized cafe has seating for 30.

The market includes a demonstration kitchen where chefs will be able to offer culinary classes and presentations. Ciaglo says he plans to do a dinner showcasing local beers, and offer occasional outdoor concerts.

Ciaglo, 46, previously worked in the software field and says he was ready to try something different.

“I spent 15 years in corporate America. I didn’t want to do that anymore,” he said. “I have two kids. If I am going to have to work 80 hours a week, I want to be doing it from home.”

Ciaglo says he decided to purchase the family farm to pursue what he calls his real passion: raising bison.

“This farm has been in my family for over 100 years. I bought the land from my mom in 1995 and I added on another 32 acres in 1998 so I could have the bison herd,” he said.

Ciaglo says that Seven Sisters provides a way to get his bison to consumers.

“We had the farm, but we didn’t have the table,” Ciaglo said. “Now we have a place where we can feature our meat, as well as products from the Valley and surrounding areas.”

All meat from Long Hollow Bison Farm is processed at Adams Farm, a USDA-inspected processing facility in Athol.

“It is important to us to keep a small carbon footprint,” Ciaglo said. “You can’t really say you are a local operation if you have to transport meat back and forth from Jersey.”

Ciaglo, who has no food-service experience, says he will handle the financial end of the business and will rely on his staff to make the operation run smoothly.

Chi Cuong Huynh is the supervising chef. Originally from Vietnam, Chi was trained in France and has worked in Boston for the French Consulate, Anthony’s Pier Four and the Ritz-Carlton, Ciaglo says.

Rachel Cook, Ciaglo’s partner, is in charge of ordering products for the market and developing relationships with local farms.

“Rachel has a degree in nutrition so she is the one who really understands all of the gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian products,” he said.

The couple, who have two children, Sofia, 6, and Josh, 4, live in a house attached to the Seven Sisters building.

“It is very convenient,” Ciaglo said.

In a nod to the family’s history farming the land, the bistro displays a refurbished hay trolley that was once used in his father’s dairy barn.

“Over the years the farm has really changed a lot,” he said. “So it’s nice to have something that represents the work of my predecessors.”