Whether in a pinch to grab fresh produce for meal prep, picking up tasty treats for gifts or dashing through for dinner, Bridgewater’s new market has it all.
North River Market Place is a culinary destination shopping center that opened Aug. 26 and offers grab-and-go meals, farm-fresh veggies and gourmet popcorn.
Diane Roll, owner of Dayton Tavern, Dayton Catering Co. and Mama’s Caboose food truck, began selling prepared household meals from her restaurant in the spring to offset the financial strain of slow business at the start of the pandemic.
“When COVID happened, we converted the restaurant to curbside pickup. That’s what kept us alive through this whole thing,” she said. “It was sink or swim, so we started doing the prepacked meals during COVID and now it’s, ‘Well, what the heck with it, let’s go all in.’”
When Roll saw the success of selling premade meals, she decided to expand the space she rented in Bridgewater as a kitchen for her catering business into a marketplace with Your Dinner as the built-in business for premade meals, ready to go in the oven or microwave for quick dining.
Sandwiches, salads and soups are available every day, along with daily specials of classic comfort foods from baked ziti to pulled pork mac and cheese. Roll said most dinners are set at a $6 to $9 price point. The name “Your Dinner” comes from the ability for shoppers to choose between a premade, packaged meal or build a meal from sides and entree options.
“You do fast food or pizza, but that gets real old real fast,” Roll said about families struggling to find time for preparing fresh meals each day. “This is guaranteed healthy, made from scratch. Everything is homemade. It’s not processed. The packaging is green. The convenience is there. The quality is there. The service is there.”
Besides Your Dinner, the market is occupied by two fellow entrepreneurs: Tisha McCoy-Ntiamoah and Radella Vrolijk.
PrePOPsterous owner McCoy-Ntiamoah is a master of the gourmet popcorn craft, using locally harvested kernels to produce eccentric flavors that sell nationwide through an online store.
Before moving into the marketplace three weeks ago, “absurdly flavorful” popcorn was only available for retail purchase at Brothers Craft Brewing. McCoy-Ntiamoah added North River Market Place as another select retail outlet for PrePOPsterous, but she has big plans for the space.
“I’ll be able to make small batches of gourmet popcorn right here on-site and we’ll be able to introduce our homemade soda line,” she said.
By Oct. 8, McCoy-Ntiamoah hopes to open the additional sides of the business, preparing simple syrups in-house for the new line of drinks, which will include limeade, plain or cherry, and potentially ginger ale as well as a featured winter holiday beverage still in the works.
With fall around the corner, patrons can expect pumpkin spice, pumpkin-chocolate and gingerbread glazed, decadent kernels in the future.
Vrolijk runs Radella’s Produce, a fresh market stand that has operated at the farmers market for years without a brick-and-mortar space. Roll said several dishes from Your Dinner source fresh ingredients from the produce shop.
Roll said that with expanding the space, it only felt natural to extend an invitation to fellow business owners working from their homes or at pop-ups to settle in the marketplace.
“I know what it’s like to start a business, and you know what you want to do but you don’t have the resources or location. … There are people who want to start a business who have everything lined up with the exception of a space,” Roll said. “This was the perfect opportunity to allow other people the opportunities I’ve been given.”
Cheryl Helmuth Logan is a mother in Bridgewater who said she loves supporting local businesses, so she was excited to learn the marketplace was offering collaborative opportunities for regional farm partners that she can support while eating at home.
“It gives those who don’t want to dine in another option. As a busy mom of three, I could use some relief with meal prep,” she said.
North River Market Place is located at 400 N. Main St. and open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays and closes at 5 p.m. on Saturday.