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GUILFORD — For one of the new owners of the Guilford Country Store, Ali West, stepping into the store is a return to her roots.

“I’ve been in cafes and delis since I was 15 when I worked at Hamelman’s,” she said, referring to Hamelman’s Bakery that operated in downtown Brattleboro from 1983 to 1997.

West, who recently gave her notice after seven years as food service director for Windham Southeast Supervisory Union, is putting her spin on the Guilford Country Store with her business partner and fellow Brattleboro Union High School graduate, Wayne Warwick, class of 1987 — now an IT specialist.

“We’ve been great friends the whole time,” said Warwick. “This was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up.”

For the past decade, Marc and Susanne Tessitore owned the store, located in the 1817 Broad Brook House, which is owned by the Friends of Algiers Village.

Last summer, the Tessitores announced they were selling the business, which has become a hub of activity for Guilfordites.

“The Friends of Algiers have been absolutely amazing to work with,” said West. “They have bent over backwards trying to help us in any way they can.”

“They’ve been a great organization to work with,” added Warwick. “We’re all very community minded and that’s what we’re here for.”

The Guilford Country Store will reopen on Feb. 1 after West and Warwick and their friends and employees are done setting up the new operation. Locals who have made the store a regular stop won’t see much difference, though West plans to feature some grab-and-go options and other menu items she’s perfected over the years.

“They’re not going to see a lot of dramatic changes,” said West. “Though we’re definitely expanding the hours ... earlier openings, later closings and we will be open Saturdays and Sundays as well.”

West also plans to offer lots of prepared foods for customers.

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“I have an 8-foot deli case that will hold 18 dishes,” she said. “We will be selling our house-roasted meats and we will always have shepherd’s pie, family size and individual, as well as lasagna, stuffed shells and sausage and peppers.”

West was quick to point out that Top Tier Bakery, operated by Britni Christiansen, will continue to provide sweet treats.

“She’s going to be bringing more of her product in,” said West, “though I’ll be doing the morning bake because that’s one of the things I like, starting my day making muffins and scones. Do stop in and and get one of my maple scones. They will make your mornings much happier.”

Some of the crew is staying over from the Tessitores’ ownership, and West and Warwick are bringing on new people who will be pulling part-time shifts.

“We’ll have three full time in five part time right away and we’ll probably add a couple more,” said West.

She went right into the Air Force after high school. Later, she earned degrees in pastry art and design and food service management at Johnson & Wales in Miami, and for 25 years she worked in cafes and delis around the country before returning to Brattleboro.

West is working dawn to dusk and sometimes longer to get ready for the opening. She said she’ll stop feeling nervous “when everything’s back in place, when the painting is done, and we get our first shipment and I actually have food to play with.”

Warwick said he is keeping his day job, but he will be in the store quite often helping out.

“I have a stake in this company. I’ve done sandwiches in my past. I can do sandwiches in my future.”

The pair also thanked the Tessitores for being “really welcoming, helpful and sweet” during the transition.

Bob Audette can be contacted at