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New Montague Book Mill eatery offers view, locally based cuisine

  • Howard Wein has opened The Alvah Stone at the lower level of the Montague Book Mill in Montgue Center.  Recorder/Paul Franz

    Howard Wein has opened The Alvah Stone at the lower level of the Montague Book Mill in Montgue Center. Recorder/Paul Franz

  • Howard Wein has opened The Alvah Stone at the lower level of the Montague Book Mill in Montgue Center.  Recorder/Paul Franz

    Howard Wein has opened The Alvah Stone at the lower level of the Montague Book Mill in Montgue Center. Recorder/Paul Franz

  • Howard Wein has opened The Alvah Stone at the lower level of the Montague Book Mill in Montgue Center.  Recorder/Paul Franz
  • Howard Wein has opened The Alvah Stone at the lower level of the Montague Book Mill in Montgue Center.  Recorder/Paul Franz

MONTAGUE CENTER — Visitors to the village center can now enjoy all-American cuisine while overlooking the rushing waters of the Sawmill River in an old historic mill.

The Alvah Stone has opened its doors at the Montague Mill, taking the place of the Night Kitchen, a fine-dining restaurant that closed this year after almost a decade.

From smoked pork ribs to matzoh ball soup to brick chicken, Leverett resident and owner Howard Wein aims to give diners a casual all-American food experience.

“We want to be a casual, comfortable place that people want to come for. We want to be accessible to the community.”

He said what makes the Alvah Stone, a restaurant bar, unique is that all of its food from the pasta to the bacon to the bread is made from scratch in-house.

The menu is designed by chef David Schrier of Brooklyn, N.Y.

The restaurant gets its basic ingredients from the Red Fire Farm in Montague and the Kitchen Garden in Sunderland, and will continue to work with more farms as seasons change and other products become available.

This is Wein’s first restaurant but he brings years of experience to the job.

Before The Alvah Stone, Wein served as senior vice president of food and beverage for Morgans Hotel Group where he directed more than $150 million in revenues. He also worked at Starr Restaurants as chief operating officer and as corporate director of food and beverage at Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide Inc. in Philadelphia. Recently, he has run Howard Wein Hospitality, LLC.

When the Night Kitchen closed, he decided it was the perfect time to open a restaurant in the community he loves.

“This is the most meaningful product I’ve ever done,” Wein said. “I’ve always loved this place. It’s magical. It seemed like a good fit.”

Wein named the restaurant after the Montague Mill’s original owner.

The restaurant has had a quick transformation. Wein purchased the property on January 1. In less than three months, he renovated and refitted the space from its former persona as the Night Kitchen.

Wein added a bar at the front of the restaurant, repainted the walls with a lighter and brighter blue and added pull-back curtains to create a private room. He also redesigned the outside deck with more tables. There are 60 seats inside the building and 40 seats on the patio.

He met Schrier and his wife and pastry chef, Jessica, when they moved to Turners Falls this year.

Although upscale and fancy in appearance, the Alvah Stone is meant to be a casual comfortable place, Wein said. “We want to be known as one of the best restaurants in the Pioneer Valley, but not a special occasion restaurant only,” Wein said.

Customers can have a burger and beer or pretzel at the 10-seat bar or get a full meal featuring cod or a cast iron skillet sizzled pork chop.

The restaurant has a full bar with 10 beers on tap and its new signature beer, the Alvah Stone lager made by Brewmaster Jack in Florence. The beer is made with 90 percent locally malted grain.

“It’s designed for people to cultivate their own experience. I think people like that flexibility,” Wein said.

Dinner is served Wednesdays through Fridays at 4 p.m. Lunch on Saturdays and Sundays runs from noon to 2 p.m. with dinner served at 4 p.m. There are no closing hours yet. The schedule is still evolving as Wein learns the needs of his customers.

The goal, he said, is to be open five days a week with brunch and dinner served at least two days.

“Our goal is to be open as much as possible as a community resource,” Wein said.

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