From a bank to a food-tasting center

Mad River Taste Place is born from a bank.

The drive-thru window has been removed and replaced with a window, and walls are being reconfigured in the former People’s United Bank building as Mad River Taste Place, The Valley’s new specialty local food-tasting center, takes shape in the former Waitsfield bank.

Robin Morris, owner of Mad River Food Hub in Waitsfield, purchased the property in February and is in the midst of converting it to a tasting center that will feature local foods and beverages highlighting local makers, creators, growers and farmers. Mad River Food Hub will be operating Mad River Taste Place.

Deconstruction and reconstruction work on the bank got underway earlier this month. The counter where tellers used to work has been removed, opening up the center lobby into one large, spacious room. Along the south side of the building, the components of the kitchen have been removed in anticipation of installing equipment suitable for supporting food tastings as well as demonstrations and classes. A walk-in cooler is being installed as well.

Across the back of the building, the east side, conference rooms and offices are being reconfigured and painted, creating space for small education and tasting classes plus small group meetings as well as offices. The former bank building is 3,600 square feet.

The offices will host food-related professional trade organizations, including the Vermont Cheese Council, which accepted a proposal to relocate to the Waitsfield facility after Cabot Creamery, Waitsfield, offered to cover rent for five years. Morris anticipates that additional food trade organizations will be located in the facility.

Morris has hired Mary Tuthill to manage Mad River Taste Place. Tuthill is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and is a certified cheese professional. The new facility should be open by July 1.
Tuthill, Morris said, is originally from Northampton, Massachusetts. She will be moving here from West Palm Beach where she was working for Whole Foods, running a specialty department, managing wine, cheese, coffee and charcuterie.

“She is exactly right for the job and arrives in The Valley late next week. She’ll be starting April 24,” Morris said.

Morris anticipates a few more new hires for the Taste Place, including a cheese monger and additional staff. He hopes to open by July 1 and will be hosting a Mad River Valley Chamber Mixer, with Northfield Savings Bank, at the Taste Place on August 15.