Here comes the new boss! (it’s the old boss!)
Recorder/Peter MacDonald New owners of the Gill Tavern Chris Pietras and Laura Carboni inside the dining room with their daughter Tea Carboni Pietras Purchase photo reprints »
GILL — After the usual delay inherent in liquor license transfers, the sale of the Gill Tavern has progressed from intention to reality, and Laura Carboni and Christopher Pietras are the proud new owners of the restaurant that is the fourth strand to the library, church, Town Hall knot around the town common on Main Road.
The sale has been in the works since last fall but February saw their first full week as owners.
Carboni has run the restaurant since its inception, originally managing it for neighbors Alden Booth and Lissa Greenough, and now continues to do so as co-owner with her husband.
Booth and Greenough own the People’s Pint in Greenfield and their beer remains on tap at the Gill Tavern, a dinner restaurant with a bar.
Having had a hand in the restaurant all along, Carboni doesn’t plan any serious changes but the couple do intend to further the existing emphasis on local ingredients.
A trial run with garden beds behind the restaurant filled the restaurant’s kale needs last year, and Pietras said they plan to expand this hyper-local approach as he steps back from his work as a web developer and concentrates more on growing.
The desire to be close to nature and its edible elements was what drew the couple to this small farming community 11 years ago. Carboni, originally from Reggio Emilia, Italy, and Pietras, a Chicago native, settled briefly in Brooklyn following a period of travel and found the city life not to their liking.
“We wanted to grow our own food and step out of the house and into the woods,” Carboni said.
Gill filled that desire, reflected in a menu emphasizing food cultivated or raised in Gill and the Pioneer Valley and tied to the seasons.
The food is new American with a strong French presence and reflects Carboni’s Italian roots and the input of chef Jordan Scott, in charge of the open kitchen at the rear of the first of two small dining rooms.
Among the dishes on the current menu is Turkey Confit, a slow-cooked turkey drumstick — with bacon providing the fat implicit in the more common duck-based recipe — served over roasted butternut squash and cranberries soaked in red wine. Another entree is Mushroom Bourgignon, crimini mushrooms simmered in red wine with vegetables and served with whipped potatoes and sauteed garlic broccolini.
Now that there are three, herself, Pietras and their 7-year-old daughter Tê a — pronounced tay-ah — Carboni said she hopes more energy to invest will help them grow and improve, but plan no radical changes.
“It’s pretty unique and special, I think, to be able to buy a place that you have been so deeply involved with,” Carboni said.
“I helped create the environment here so it’s not like I’m coming in and feeling like I need to repaint and remodel and change all these things,” Carboni said. “The people who came in the week before we owned it and the week after we owned it, their experience of us is pretty similar and it’s not like things are going to change radically.”
The radical changes to the establishment occurred years ago with the transition from country store to restaurant. The Gill Store opened in 1803, closed in 2005, was reincarnated the same year, evolved into The Gill Store and Tavern in 2008 and shortly dropped the grocery element.
The Gill Store sign hangs behind the bar, and Carboni and Pietras say the spot remains a social hub.
“There’s definitely a real sense of community that gets contained here,” Carboni said, with local regulars a fair portion of the business and wine-tastings and other events drawing more.
The business was never listed for sale, but changed hands after the couple began to consider striking out on their own.
Carboni said she managed the restaurant in part to see if it was something she wanted to do, and having found it was, Pietras said the couple had begun to look around for a place of their own when Booth and Greenough decided to sell.
Booth said the sale means more time for The People’s Pint.
“Just wanted to be able to focus on that a little bit more, and feel the Gill Tavern’s in really good hands,” he said.
Located at 326 Main Road, the restaurant seats about 45. Reservations are recommended by phone at 413-863-9006.
You can reach Chris Curtis at:
or 413-772-0261, ext. 257