Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Noted California chef's Berkshire dream evaporates

Cortney Burns
NORTH ADAMS, MA -- Back in September 2018, I reported on a project that would have brought a well-regarded California chef to the Tourists hotel that opened earlier in the year. Now comes word that such plans have been scuttled and the chef has walked away from the project.

Work has begun on converting the former Our Lady of Incarnation Church on Massachusetts Avenue overlooking the Hoosick River into a modern restaurant called called Loom. The hotel sits opposite the river on State Road.

In a statement released today, a spokesperson for the hotel confirmed partner and chef Cortney Burns is leaving Tourists "to focus on her much-anticipated cookbook and other culinary projects." Instead of Loom, the hotel will open a restaurant called The Airport Rooms in its 19th Century farmhouse property on State Road.

The vision for Loom was created by Burns, who moved to North Adams from California to helm the project, according to an essay she penned for Fish & Game Quarterly last year. She  was one of five partners in the project that is transforming a rundown old motor inn and farmhouse on 55 acres into a top-echelon attraction.

Burns, a James Beard Award winner, left San Francisco’s celebrated Bar Tartine to move to the Berkshires, oversee the restaurant project, and begin putting up an old-style New England larder of fermented and preserved goods.

Before today's announcement, the latest negative wrinkle in the restaurant plan came in late September when the town's Planning Board said that before the former church can be transformed into a restaurant, the developers needed to come up with a detailed plan for parking. At that time, the board delayed a vote on the planned restaurant because it did not adequately account for customer and employee parking, and did not provide for anything other than on-street parking for the 70-seat restaurant.

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