Updated on April 4, 2016
This past February restaurant owners Adam Dunetz and Robyn Goodmark marked the 5th Anniversary of The Roost in Northampton. It’s hard to believe it has only been 5 years when so much about the place has become a part of our regular routine. Molly and I think their ginger-drenched and maple-hinted Chai Lattes are the best in the area. We also love their all-day egg sandwiches, spicy chocolate snickerdoodles, the local taps, and the overall vibe of the place.
The Roost oozes personality, from the rustic decor to the eclectic tunes to the hipster-thrift staff. If someone were to ask me what Northampton, Massachusetts was like I would walk them through The Roost and say, “Basically this, times 30 thousand people.”
The Roost has a special place in my heart too as the last place I worked in food service. I manned the counter and espresso bar when they opened before spending a year in the prep kitchen. In the grueling world of restaurant work, Adam and Robyn were as good as it gets as managers. I chatted them both up recently about the last five years and what they see going forward for what’s now a local benchmark.
Bub: The Roost manages to be different in a town that already has a lot of unique bars and restaurants. What are your biggest influences on how you built and run The Roost?
Robyn: Adam’s wife Liz has an awesome shop on Market Street called Sticks and Bricks. She refinishes and repurposes furniture and housewares using reclaimed materials. Her industrial/modern/rustic aesthetic was a big inspiration. She helped us create a space where all kinds of people can come to meet, eat, drink, talk, play and enjoy.
Adam: I was thinking about two things with The Roost: businesses I remember from living in Portland, Oregon and a European-style café. We wanted to create a community hub where people interact, eat good food, drink good coffee, beer, or wine, in a casual and comfortable way.
Bub: How much of what you learned opening and running The Green Bean helped shape what you were doing at The Roost?
Adam: You learn a lot every time you do something. The Green Bean was a business that I’d spent two years looking for a space for. The significant change about how I approached the Roost was- here’s this empty space, what would be the perfect thing to go in there? It might not seem significant, but when you’re committed to an idea that you’re looking for a space for, you’re basically jamming the idea into the space. When you see a blank space and let your imagination run wild, it’s likely you’re going to come up with a better fit between space and concept. Interestingly, opening up The Roost gave me a ton of insight into the Green Bean. It’s like you can’s see the forest through the trees, but the second you step outside, you see everything.
Bub: You both have musical backgrounds, did any of that experience find its way into how you setup The Roost?
Robyn: I spent the bulk of my time (about 10 years) after college running my own business, which was a touring band that involved managing and tour managing ourselves, running our own line of merchandise and recording. I learned a lot about keeping a lot of balls in the air. The Roost is my first real restaurant gig. Before we opened I went to work for Adam at The Green Bean for about 6 months to learn the basics and get my feet wet.
Adam: I’ve worked in food service pretty much as long as I’ve been working, but I spent a few years touring with a band too. I think there’s something about playing music that helps you see things differently, or gives you license to follow your own inspiration in creating a space. We weren’t trying to copy anybody in making The Roost. We dreamed it up, talked it out, and made it happen. I see music in that.
Bub: You host movie nights and game nights, any thoughts on live music?
Robyn: We opted not to make our space set up for live music since there are so many other places in town where you can go see bands play. We want people to be comfortable for the time they’re here. We want them to have meetings, write books, play games, watch movies; all while being aware of how many seats they’re occupying and for how long. We want to make The Roost a place with room for new customers to feel welcome.
Bub: What’s coming up for The Roost?
Robyn: Hopefully being here for a good long while. Continuing to make the job better for our employees, being able to provide paid time off and other benefits. Continuing to provide delicious food and drinks while supporting as many other local businesses and vendors as we can. Building our evening business so that The Roost can be one of the great night spots in town for beer, wine and dessert plus the fun of game nights, karaoke nights, movie nights and collaborations with local breweries.
Bub: You’ve already had a good bit of that. Can you tell us a little about your collaboration with Brewmaster Jack?
Robyn: Brewmaster Jack is a great local brewer, who lives in the neighborhood and was a regular customer from the beginning. We got to know him over the years and when he started his business we were happy to start carrying his beer. It always sold well, and got a great response from customers. It was fun to collaborate on a signature beer for The Roost and people have really enjoyed the Cock-a-doodle-brew. Not sure if we’d do something like that with anyone else, but we are open to ideas that help support other local businesses. We’ve already done a batch of “Tap Takeovers” with Abandoned Building Brewery and Fort Hill Brewery. We’ll be doing another one with The People’s Pint on the 29th of April.