LENOX -- The day she opened Haven Cafe & Bakery on Church Street a customer asked Shelly Williams if she'd consider opening a similar eatery in Great Barrington.
It took almost seven years, but Williams finally took that customer up on the offer. She recently opened a second Haven in Great Barrington at 420 Stockbridge Road in the space formerly occupied by Cafe Adam.
The Great Barrington Haven began operations in July, but closed briefly in January, and wasn't open every day until February.
"We had a lot of people who wanted us to come down to South County," said Williams, who received requests from people who lived as far south as northwestern Connecticut.
Besides customer demand, Williams said opening a second restaurant will allow her to expand her catering business. Williams had run her catering business before opening Haven in June 2008, and said it had begun to outgrow the space in Lenox.
"The kitchen space that you see here is really all that we have," Williams said, referring to the kitchen in the Lenox eatery. "Our catering got to the point where, if we get any jobs in the summer, we don't have any room to do the work. So we wanted a space with a bigger kitchen."
Williams had also begun selling baked goods made in Lenox to local food entrepreneurs like Guido's Fresh Marketplace. She needed more room for that activity, too.
"The space in Great Barrington is a whole kitchen," she said, "so we had a lot of room."
Williams said the new restaurant in Great Barrington is "going well" but said it has been difficult for customers to find. Unlike the Lenox eatery, the Haven in Great Barrington is not right on the road, and is located behind another structure among a small cluster of buildings.
Haven recently catered an event for the Southern Berkshire Regional Community Center, located a short distance away on Crissey Road, and Williams said many of the attendees had no idea where her restaurant was.
"If you walk out the door and look across the street there we are," Williams said she told people at the event. "It's been tough because we're in the back."
Williams also looked at the site on Main Street in Great Barrington that formerly housed the Deli, and considered a spot in Williamstown before settling on the former Cafe Adam space.
Although it was located behind another building, Williams said the former Cafe Adam was a good fit because it had previously housed a restaurant, and had plenty of parking, which is at a premium in downtown Great Barrington. She spent some $150,000 renovating the space to her specifications.
"I liked the atmosphere," Williams said. "It fit right."
Williams, who lives in Lenox, came to the Berkshires 18 years ago from the Pacific Northwest following a visit to Kripalu. She had never owned a restaurant before opening Haven in Lenox, but had worked in the restaurant industry for several years.
"I never really set out to open a restaurant," she said. "My catering business was so busy, and I was looking for a commercial kitchen. This space was available."
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