North Adams — Maybe you've seen the Instagram photos — there's a new hot spot in North Adams.
It's hard to miss the slick photos of delicious looking pastries lined up in neat, tempting rows, or the tastefully lit outdoor seating area with a barbecue pit backdrop that is manned by one of Berkshire County's most well-known chefs. The Break Room at Greylock Works, which opened earlier in the summer, serves a locally-sourced, vegetable-forward menu, as well as various pastry offerings, Thursday through Sunday. Located in the back of the mill owned by Karla Rothstein and Sal Perry and headed by Chef Brian Alberg, its small team with big local impact has no titles.
"We all do everything," Alberg said.
The Break Room's menu embraces current trends, with plenty of non-meat dinner options (diners can choose to add meat, from swordfish to grass-fed strip loin to any dish for an additional price), snack plates including burrata and cold sesame noodles, and an entire list of tartines, grilled bread with various toppings, including an almond pesto or whipped feta.
"I wanted to be as local and seasonal as I could be," said Alberg, who also oversees all aspects of culinary operations for Main Street Hospitality, including The Red Lion Inn, Seeds Market Cafe at Hancock Shaker Village, Eat on North and The Tap House at Shaker Mill.
The restaurant also offers Saturday farm dinners — a four-course prix-fixe menu — in its outdoor space, a concrete patio near the mill's back entrance (make a reservation, the seats sell out quickly). These Saturday evenings are Alberg's favorite — he grills a different menu every weekend, and the grill is part of the patio's ambiance.
"We're really accessible, and we can have conversations back and forth with the guests," he said.
Pastries are made by Cynthia Walton and Amanda Perreault; Alberg has known Perreault for nearly a decade, and hired her when he was opening The Tap House at Shaker Mill in West Stockbridge in 2019. Perreault reached out to Walton, who she's known since the third grade; the pastry chefs also worked together in the past, including at the Southfield Store in Southfield. For the Break Room, they create daily offerings ranging from Sunday doughnuts to pistachio danishes, scones, giant cookies, and one-serving babkas. All baked goods are available for take-out at the register.
When planning for the restaurant, Alberg said he hit it off with the mill's owners, Perry and Rothstein, right away, and the appeal of North Adams as his next spot was clear.
"I'm a big fan of revitalizing and repurposing," Alberg said. "I like a project in an up-and-coming area that revolves around art, agriculture and cultural tourism."
"I want to grow this space," he said. He has plans to potentially create a food destination — the Berkshire Cider Project, which sells craft cider made from local apples, is another new offering at the mill that started this summer, joining The Distillery at Greylock Works, which makes rum and gin. Alberg said he wants to add smaller, take-out food options that don't compete with the existing operations.
Though the Break Room opened mid-pandemic, business has been steady, he said. When opening, "I didn't know what to expect at all," Alberg said. But feedback has been good. "It's the ones that say, `this has been my first time out in, like, four months,'" he said. "To me, it's about imparting a feeling, an experience."
And maybe this new venture adds a bit of hope in hard times.
"I'd like to think it helps keep things positive," Alberg said. "In bad times, good things can help. I've never really dwelled on the negative. It's that old lemonade adage."