GUILFORD -- It's a question Marc Tessitore has been hearing quite a bit lately: "When are you opening?"
Now, he finally has an answer. Tessitore and his wife, Suzanne, have scheduled the reopening of Guilford Country Store for 10 a.m. Friday.
It is the culmination of years of work by the non-profit Friends of Algiers Village Inc. and months of preparation by Tessitore, who brings retail and catering experience to the new store and a cafe on the first floor of the historic Broad Brook House.
"We're really excited," Tessitore said. "I think it's going to be a really good day. It's a good day for Guilford, and it's a good day for my family."
Guilford Country Store has been shut since 2010. That same year, Friends of Algiers Village purchased Broad Brook House with the goal of renovating and reopening the retail space.
Extensive volunteer effort has been buttressed by grants and donations as well as expertise from the Preservation Trust of Vermont.
"Rehabilitating this building was a much bigger task than we ever anticipated," said Fred Humphrey, Friends of Algiers vice president. "It's almost 200 years old."
The result was a top-to-bottom makeover that includes a high-efficiency heating system and a public-water hookup. The country store is the first connection to a new water line that brings Brattleboro municipal water into Algiers Village.
The store space has been transformed with a new floor, ceiling, paint job and lighting. Newly uncovered windows allow natural light into a cafe space that will seat 18.
But even as renovations neared completion, Friends of Algiers volunteers had not found someone to operate the store. In December, they put out a call for an entrepreneur with both retail and kitchen experience.
That connected the group with Tessitore, who had relocated to Brattleboro several years ago from New York City, where he had run a prepared-foods store and catering business.
The Tessitores will own the store business and lease the space from Friends of Algiers.
"We're extremely pleased that this is happening at long last," Humphrey said. "We're particularly pleased with the store owners, who have broad experience in operating a store and catering."
Friends of Algiers in March announced the deal with Tessitore, who spent the next few months readying the space. Final details included completing electrical work, outfitting the kitchen and obtaining the necessary state permits.
"It's been a lot of work, especially as we've gotten closer to the end of the project," Tessitore said. "There are a lot of pieces that had to fall into place."
Tessitore also has been developing a menu that will include coffee and sandwiches for breakfast and lunch. The store's regular hours will be 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. seven days a week.
"During the week, we're hoping to really attract the traffic that goes by here in the morning," Tessitore said.
But the kitchen will be turning out more than convenience foods, as the Tessitores believe there also is a market for entrees.
"We're going to focus on serving fresh, seasonal, as-local-as-we-can foods," Tessitore said. "We're going to do a number of different entree-style items."
Examples include salmon and "a rotating cast of grilled chicken in different styles" along with fresh vegetables and salads, he added.
The store also will offer raw chicken and beef for sale. And there will be the usual general-store offerings -- "a little bit of everything," Tessitore says -- along with a selection of specialty cheeses, wine and beer.
"We're here to provide what the community asks for," he said. "We've got a vision of what we want to do, but we have a certain responsibility to provide the essentials."
Tessitore is launching a catering business from the store, saying he can handle a wide variety of events.
"It's just one more opportunity to get your food out there," he said.
The new country store also will have a presence at this year's Guilford Fair.
"We're trying to be as invested in the community as we can," Tessitore said. "There has been so much positive energy. We feel an obligation to do this right for everyone who's been waiting for so long."
Mike Faher can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.