By Barbara M. Houle
One of the things you notice before you even open the door at Ten West Market in Paxton are the business signs on both sides of the building. Everything from pasta to coffee and everything in between — names of locally sourced products sold inside.
When Darlene and Thomas Walsh of Paxton bought the business three years ago from Jeff and Dr. Bethann Cormier, Darlene Walsh said the couple would maintain the same spirit of the market and at the same time put the couple’s own spin on it.
She has succeeded in customizing space inside the small building near the Town Hall (once the police station) to a widely popular neighborhood market and deli. But more than that, Walsh has introduced customers to a number of local food specialties only offered at farmers markets and small retail outlets.
Ten West is more than a shopping experience, said Walsh, who described Ten West as a little country store that brings people together and gives back to community.
“I love that customers help support other local businesses,” she said. “One of my goals from the very beginning was to see that everyone gets a piece of the pie, from the mailman who sells us his maple syrup to businesses like Red Barn Cookies in Princeton and Moeshmallows in Holden. We buy from incredible small batch food producers.”
Walsh previously had rented space at Tatnuck Marketplace on Pleasant Street in Worcester before it closed. She said she first fell in love with cooking watching her grandmother who cooked for a living. In high school, Walsh recalled she made “roll ups” for the Italian Festival in Worcester.
“Tommy and I were so lucky to have the former owners of Ten West ask us if we had any interest in taking over the business,” said Walsh. “When we reopened the store, I said, ‘Thank you, God.’ This is my dream job.”
The owners live in Paxton where Thomas Walsh has been a lifelong resident. A member of the Paxton Lions Club, Darlene Walsh grew up a “South Worcester gal” and at one time was an emergency room secretary at St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester. She and her husband volunteer at the South Worcester Neighborhood Center during the busy holiday season.
Ten West Market donates food to local agencies, including the Paxton Senior Center, and the owners help out in community “whenever and wherever” needed. The market donated bag lunches for military participants at an interfaith tribute for the 20th anniversary of 9/11 held last Saturday at Anna Maria College in Paxton. Food donations also have been made to the neighboring First Congregational Church of Paxton.
Walsh works full time in the business with her two sons, Matthew and Justin Cooper. “I was a single mom before I met Tommy,” said Walsh, “and I know how difficult it can be for busy families to prepare a homecooked meal every day. At Ten West we sell grab and go meals in containers that can go right into the oven or microwave. No prep, barely any cleanup. It’s all about fresh food and convenience.”
The market gets seafood deliveries daily, except Sundays. Customers can choose from baked stuffed haddock, shrimp, pistachio crusted Scottish salmon, salmon burgers and more. The market sells Dom’s meats (marinated steak tips, sausages, etc.) and recently brought on Boar’s Head for its deli meats and cheeses. There’s definitely variety in the refrigerated food cases, including Tatnuck Italian sandwiches (customer favorite) French pork pie based on Walsh’s grandmother’s recipe, chicken pot pie, mac ‘n cheese, homemade soups, stuffed shells and Walsh’s handmade meatballs. “Half-pan helpers” of shepherd’s pie, chicken Parmesan over penne or chicken broccoli, served with garlic bread and salad, are among the super tasty tailgate food, said Walsh, who needs 24-hour notice to prepare.
A breakfast sandwich, $4.85, and a cup of Brilla coffee is a morning special. Brilla Coffee Roasters in Holden is Ten West’s coffee provider.
Browsing shelves at the market, you’ll find labels that bear names such as Pastaland in Leominster; Brooks Baked Goodies in Brookfield; Skip’s Jelly (pepper varieties) in Athol; Auntie Dalie’s Artisan Dried Pasta in Hopedale; Helen’s Bakery in Worcester. Fresh produce, flower bouquets, assorted breads, gluten-free items and much more.
Ten West Market, at 10 West St., Paxton, is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. Telephone: (508) 755-7547. Catering is available. Two picnic tables with umbrellas are outside. Parking is in front and back of the building.
“I’m so lucky to get to do what I love every day in the town that I love,” said Walsh. “The location is great, and we know almost everyone who comes through the door. I’ve always said that if you offer a good product that customers will stick with you, whether it’s a pandemic or not.”
I recently received an email from a Worcester Magazine reader who sent a tip about Ten West being a hidden gem. “The market has fresh meats and fish, but also serves awesome breakfast items, panini, grinders, soups, salads, prepared meals, homemade desserts, et al. The staff is friendly and amazing. I’m there at least twice a week.”
On social media, there are more postivite reviews: “Darlene is a charm.” “For a tiny shop this store has just what you need.”
My take meeting Darlene Walsh for the first time is that she’s a dedicated and charismatic store owner. She got a little teary during this interview when she told me how much she loves the business and townspeople.
I think customers may appreciate her even more.
Saw Dust oppening second location
Peter Champagne, owner of Saw Dust Coffee House & Dessert Bar in Sturbridge, is opening a second location.
Champagne in a Facebook posting said he’s buying Victoria Station in Putnam, Conn., with plans to open Nov. 1. “I’ve been extremely lucky & blessed with the changes in life and the opening of this business,” wrote Champagne. Putnam is another opportunity, he said, adding that he’s grateful for the owners, “good friends and extremely helpful in this endeavor.”
His posting also is on Victoria Station Café’s Facebook page.
The Sturbridge business opened February 2020.
Leicester Harvest Fair Sept. 18
Leicester’s Harvest Fair 2021 will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 18, rain or shine, on the Leicester Common.
The family event celebrates its 21st anniversary. Crafts, food, music and more. Check out the food, floral and agricultural exhibits in the town hall. I look forward to joining other judges in tasting and voting food categories before the fair opens.
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