Boston Makers Team Up to Open the Local Fare Storefront

The founders of Nutty Life, Kitchen Millie, and Boston Bonbon are fundraising to open a shared kitchen and speciality shop in Arlington.

(L to R) Caroline Huffstetler of Nutty Life, Michelle Wax of Kicteh nMillie, and Rita Ng of Boston Bonbon at the Local Fare in Arlington

(L to R) Caroline Huffstetler of Nutty Life, Michelle Wax of Kicteh nMillie, and Rita Ng of Boston Bonbon at the Local Fare in Arlington. / Photo provided

A trio of local small business owners are painting walls, researching equipment, and fundraising to bring a locally-focused food gift shop and commissary kitchen to East Arlington this summer. The Local Fare is slated to open at 2 Lake St. in July, pending licensing approval from the town, says Caroline Huffstetler, creator of Nutty Life and a co-owner of the Local Fare.

Huffstetler has joined forces with makers Rita Ng, creator of Boston Bonbon, and Michelle Wax, founder of Kitchen Millie Two-Bite Cookies and co-curator of the gift box delivery service Boston & Bale. The trio signed a lease May 15. Last week, Huffstetler launched a $10,000 Kickstarter to help fund sundry equipment, joining a crowdfunding effort by Kitchen Millie to help build out the new storefront.

“I’ve dreamed of owning a storefront since I was working at our lemonade stand as a kid, so this really is (as cliché as it sounds) a dream come true,” Wax writes in her Kickstarter campaign. “The primary use of the facility will be production for the revenue streams we’ve proven over the past year (wholesale, catering, online, etc), but it will also allow us to test out the retail concept”

Huffstetler, who became lactose intolerant about seven years ago, has been making her own milk alternatives for about three years. In September, she quit her 9-to-5 and launched Nutty Life full time. She currently blends her nut milks and makes vegan cookie dough balls in the shared kitchen at Stock Pot in Malden, and sells her products at the South End and SoWa markets, through office catering and local delivery, and wholesale to cafés like Gracenote and Loyal Nine.

She’s known Wax for a while, through a networking group for “one-man show, female startups in the food world,” she says. Ng has worked with Wax at Boston & Bale. Wax reached out to both women shortly after the Fashion Cake Boutique closed this spring, opening up the space in Arlington, Huffstetler says. She and Ng were both independently looking to move their businesses to new commercial kitchen spaces when Wax invited them to join her.

“We have a cool synergy, too. [Boston Bonbon’s] French macarons are made with almond meal, so there is a lot of potential for collaboration,” Huffstetler says.

At just 850 square feet, it’s small, but it’s “the perfect spot” for the makers, Huffstetler says. With its previous life as a bakeshop, it doesn’t require too much buildout. The Kickstarter will help fund new hand and mop sinks, prep tables, and a refrigerator for the kitchen. It will also help pay for a few months’ rent, as well as initial payments toward a refrigerated distribution van Huffstetler has purchased for deliveries.

Four hundred square feet of the storefront will be reserved for an eclectic retail store. The trio hasn’t officially signed on any other makers, but expect things like naturally-dyed napkins, bottled cold-brewed coffee and teas, baked goods, and other locally-made gifts to line the shelves. Eventually, too, the Local Fare could have a sit-down café, featuring Nutty Life’s smoothie bowls and other made-to-order snacks and drinks.

“We want to bring in people like [us] who are not necessarily in Star Market or Whole Foods, that are just doing farmers markets right now, to bring that whole experience to Arlington,” Huffstetler says.

The Local Fare submitted its paperwork to the town of Arlington last week. Kitchen Millie has met its $9,000 crowdfunding goal and has three more days to raise more money to reach its $12,000 stretch goal. Nutty Life’s Kickstarter campaign ends July 4.

The Local Fare, coming to 2 Lake St., Arlington, Facebook.