Beef and chocolate

Black Cow Burger open for business

Recorder/Paul Franz
Pam Tierney, owner of The Black Cow Burger Bar on Ave A in Turners Falls holds a pint of Lefty's on Monday.

Recorder/Paul Franz Pam Tierney, owner of The Black Cow Burger Bar on Ave A in Turners Falls holds a pint of Lefty's on Monday.

TURNERS FALLS — Burgers, beer, wine ... and chocolate ... are on the menu at the Black Cow Burger Bar.

Well, chocolate isn’t technically on the menu — it’s in a display case greeting customers as they enter, a holdover from the Avenue A space’s days as Equi’s Candy Store — but proprietor Pamela Tierney said it is a common dessert choice, as well as a hot seller during the holidays.

The Black Cow is the Erving resident’s second restaurant venture and a return to her hometown.

Tierney grew up in Turners Falls, moving to Erving where she opened the Starlite Diner in 1999. After a six-year stretch managing the diner and working in the kitchen, Tierney sold the property, which then became home to a succession of restaurants ending with the current Christina’s Pizzeria and Tavern.

The Turners Falls restaurant has its roots in New York — where Tierney’s daughter lives and where she became attached to the ‘burger bar’ concept — and in the history of its Avenue A storefront.

Equi’s Candy Store was in its 115th year as a downtown institution when it closed last year, and its spirit remains in the candy counter filled primarily with Tierney’s own handmade chocolate ... and the old Equi’s sign is new again with a fresh logo.

Tierney opened the restaurant in early November after extensive renovation of the space, now dimly lit and brightly decorated with seating for 42, with beer on tap behind the bar and wine in a cooling case.

Customers seat themselves at the tables, booths or bar and order from a menu of build-your-own burger components or pre-developed options.

Foundations include beef, turkey or vegetable patties — mixed and formed on-premises — a grilled salmon filet or hotdog, ten sauce options from ketchup to balsamic glaze. Lettuce, tomato, raw onion and pickles are included on request and toppings that can be added for an extra 75-cents to a dollar include American, goat, pepper jack, bleu, cheddar and Swiss cheeses, grilled mushrooms, bacon, pastrami, grilled pineapple, caramelized onions and baby arugula.

These ingredients are also available in various formulations on the “Field Tested” burger menu, including the Power Town Burger, subtitled “The Hangover Cure!” which is topped with lettuce, tomato, a fried egg, bacon and American cheese.

Tierney said this is one of the Black Cow’s most popular orders.

Sides, ordered separately, include French fries and coleslaw, and elsewhere on the menu are salads and starters, the latter category including a goat cheese and onion tart and beer-boiled shrimp.

There is also a $5 kids’ menu and four non-burger pasta, steak and fish entrees.

Since her diner days, Tierney has managed Turners’ Thomas Memorial Golf and Country Club, and began to look around for a restaurant space after she left at the end of the last golf season.

After the Starlite Diner, Tierney says, she worked every day in the kitchen, cooking the food as well as managing her employees and the paperwork.

“I was basically trying to do everything and I think I overextended myself a little and got a little burnt out,” Tierney said. “I thought I was done but the bug came back.”

Her restaurant “bug” began with a love of cooking and work in restaurants growing up, Tierney said, and she loves the energy of the business.

“A busy night is my favorite time, interacting with people, the fast pace, I love the pace of the restaurant business when it’s busy,” Tierney said.

She now employs 14 people, most part-time, and rotates through the jobs herself.

“You have to be everywhere, kind of, if you own a restaurant, you can’t just be in one area, you’ve got to know what’s happening out front, you’ve got to know what’s happening in the kitchen,” she said.

Tierney said she settled on the Turners Falls space for many reasons, including the free parking, low lease costs compared to neighboring Greenfield, and downtown events like the Franklin County Pumpkinfest and the It’s a Wonderful Night in Turners Falls holiday festival.

“Up and coming, Turners Falls,” Tierney said. “And once that bridge opens up it will be even better.”

Traffic on the Gill-Montague Bridge remains one-way into Turners Falls, but the state has announced an anticipated reopening date of 2014.

You can reach Chris Curtis at:

or 413-772-0261, ext. 257

Great place -- we have a wonderful time there and great burgers. Burgers are juicy, buns are fresh high quality and you can make them to order. Had the Mac Attack -- excellent!! They also have a great list of unique beers -- had the Blueberry Wheat Ale -- excellent!! They also have some special home-made desserts, too. Coconut cream pie was one of the best I have had at a restaurant...... Wish they had one of these in Amherst or South Deerfield (hint - hint), but for now we will have to go to Turners Falls to enjoy.

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