The opening of the restaurant is a dream come true for owners Aaron Allen and Erin Patrick, both of whom have backgrounds in theatre and the restaurant industry. Having met while Allen was working behind the bar at an area inn and Patrick was a stage manager at CTC, they subsequently found work elsewhere. “We were living in
Washington D.C.,” said Patrick, who runs Chester Common Table’s front of house. “I was stage managing at Arena Stage and Aaron was their sound engineer. But our dream was to move back to Western Mass, buy a bit of land, grow food, and serve it to people in our own restaurant.”
Allen, who grew up in Pittsfield, learned his trade in the kitchen of the former Candlelight Inn in Lenox, MA, where the focus was on classic French cooking. “We wanted a quiet, comfortable place where we could feed people the kind of quality food we like to eat.” ” The menu at Chester Common Table features the couple’s take on popular comfort foods, such as a miso-based French Onion Soup, gluten-free Cajun Cornmeal Catfish, and Vegetarian Lasagna, as well as specials that will change weekly. “Specials will depend on what’s coming out of the ground,” said chef Allen. “We’ll be offering more choices and switching things out more often as we get into the main growing season.”
The couple has a commitment to sourcing locally. Meats for the restaurant come from Cream of the Crop farm in Russell. Other local farms supplying Chester Common Table are White Goose Gardens and Holiday Brook Farms in Dalton, and the Peace Haven Project in Becket. The walls are covered in work by local artists and the owners have plans to bring in area musicians.
Employees of Chester Theatre Company have already made Chester Common Table a popular gathering place. Master Carpenter Jack Boyle praised the personal touch and commitment to quality. “For me, it’s food taken to another level in flavor and presentation.”
For his part, CTC Producing Artist Director Daniel Elihu Kramer is thrilled to welcome Chester Common Table as the theatre’s restaurant partner. “We share with them a commitment to the beauty of an afternoon or evening in Chester spent with good theatre, good food, and good friends.”
Restaurant hours are Mondays and Wednesdays from 4:30-11:00 p.m.; Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from noon to midnight; and Sundays from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. for brunch, with the regular menu available the rest of the day until 9:00 p.m. It will be closed on Tuesdays.