Amy Whisenant is ready to take orders at the new cafe in the concession stand at Windsor Lake.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Amy Whisenant is working to turn the traditional concession stand at Windsor Lake into a destination cafe.
You'll still find the usual fare at Amy's Cafe on the Lake — chips, candy, soda, frozen treats and hot dogs and hamburgers. But Whisenant is spicing up the menu with pulled pork and chicken sandwiches, wraps, mocha drinks and egg sandwiches, and is planning more offerings down the road.
On a very hot Friday afternoon, a pot of New England clam chowder was simmering on the stove.
"They say if you eat something hot it's supposed to make you cooler," said Whisenant, with an infectious laugh that punctuates her conversation. "I want to add a New England dinner on Fridays — clam chowder, rolls, and fish and chips."
Whisenant has more than 30 years of catering experience and most recently worked at boys' high school in Connecticut. When she found out that last year's concession operator had decided not to return, she applied for the lease and arrived with her camper in a downpour on June 3.
She's rolled up her sleeves and, with some help from her father, Frank Whisenant, immediately began scrubbing, ripping up floors, painting, and fixing up the aged concession area. The dark walls are now bright white, screens have been repaired, there's new vinyl on the floor and plans in place to add a six-burner gas stove and a fryer.
"People are always asking me for fried foods ... Not yet!" laughed Whisenant.
Her efforts have made the Windsor Lake Recreation Commission reconsider the building's future. There have been discussions about demolishing the building, which also has bathrooms and changing rooms. Chairman George Forgea said it may be possible to repurpose it.
"She has done an incredible amount of work," he said last week. "The city has committed to putting in more kitchen equipment because it had nothing, basically."
The Alford resident (her sister is Susan Chilson, one of the lake managers) said her goal is not only to serve campers and beachgoers at Fish Pond and Historic Valley Campground but to create a place for downtown workers to get away for lunch or for people to call in for takeout.
"Look at this view," she said, nodding her head toward the lake, the mountains and the blue sky. "Can you imagine coming here for lunch?"
Whisenant takes an order in the refurbished concession. She's hoping to do more takeouts and add picnic baskets as well.
There's room for some picnic tables and a few more cafe tables for "Lunch at the Lake with Amy." "You'd have a seat with a view and be able to get away from it all," said Whisenant.
She's planning specials for the upcoming Concerts on the Lake and pre-ordered picnic baskets, and working the takeout aspect of the cafe, with a few lunchtime regulars already.
Prices range from about $1.50 for grilled cheese to under $4 for a vegetarian wrap. Whisenant said it was important to her to ensure the prices weren't too high. "I want to make it reasonable for people.
The cafe hours are Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 11 to 8; Saturday from 10 to 8; and Sunday from noon to 7. The concession is closed Tuesday. For takeout, call 413-663-7928. The cafe will be open this Thursday during the lake's open house.
"This is my dream come true," said Whisenant, then laughed, "It was a fated thing."
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