Bringing Farm To Table To Manhattan’s West Village

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When Kerber’s Farm talks about bringing the farm to its new West Village retail shop, known for its pies, biscuits, muffins and scones, it means business.

Owner Nick Voulgaris grew up in Huntington, Long Island where he frequented Kerber’s Farm as a child with his parents to buy vegetables and eggs. It reminded him of a Norman Rockwell farmstand painting. But its founding family retired, and Kerber’s Farm shuttered and stood vacant for years.

Looking to revive it, he acquired the property in 2013 for $575,000. He tapped his investment in Apple stock to help finance the purchase.

A farmstand in Long Island, Kerber’s Farms has given birth to a retail shop in the West Village in Manhattan that is finding a place on a street filled with mom-and-pop stores.

He had been in food service and hospitality, but he knew he had to make some renovations and revisions if Kerber’s Farm was going to generate enough profit. It was originally a poultry farm, but Voulgaris used the chicken for eggs and brought in from the farm, vegetables and honey bees.

He made major changes in the original Huntington location because he “didn’t want to be in the chicken slaughtering business.” So he turned Kerber’s Farm into a place for breakfast, lunch, coffee, snacks and pies and even an occasional dinner.

In Voulgaris’s view, “the bees give us honey, the vegetables feed the chickens and the chickens give us eggs.” But it also relies on baking which yields, the pies, cheddar buttermilk biscuits, muffins and scones.

Once reviving the Huntington farmstand, he started to turn a healthy profit and used that money to capitalize his New York City outlet. He self-financed the opening in Feb. 2023, which cost about $300,000.

Since he was living in the West Village, he sought out a spot that would be perfect for his Long Island farmstand transplanted to a bustling Manhattan neighborhood. He chose Bleecker Street in the West Village because the retail shop is located on a shopping strip alongside Murray’s Cheese, Faicco’s Pork, Rocco’s Bakery and Ottomanelli’s Brothers meats, all vintage shops.

“We’re sitting among these iconic food stores,” he noted.

Voulgaris says each of the Kerber’s Farms attracts a different clientele. The Huntington farmstand appeals mostly to families, and since it has animals (pigs, goats, sheep, ducks and chickens), children gravitate there. The West Village shop skews to a younger audience, and consists mostly of locals from the neighborhood.

The West Village store is open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. and later on weekends. For dinner, people can opt for chicken pot pie pockets, pulled pork pockets, Shephard pies and vegan options.

Though it offers DoorDash and Grubhub deliveries, he says it’s only about 7% or 8% of its total revenue.

Its staff stands out because of their energy and enthusiasm and consists of actors, writers, dancers and other creative people. “We treat them well, pay them well and are flexible with their schedules,” Voulgaris says, explaining what attracts them. He admits that many leave after a year or two, but that happens with creative people.

One employee suggested an open mic night, where the staff gave readings and performed skits and monologues, which was a hit, and will be repeated monthly.

Yelp response to the Bleecker Street shop was mostly positive. Jungwon from Boston ordered a breakfast of a biscuit with two eggs, bacon and cheese and called it “the best breakfast sandwich I’ve ever had. The biscuit was flaky and fluffy but not crumbly.”

Trevor from Brooklyn liked the chicken pot pie pocket, and found it “flaky and hot and the chicken was tender.” But Jaimee from Manhattan thought the “chocolate in the s’mores pie was way too sweet and dense.”

What lures people to Kerber’s Farm? “Initially, it’s the aesthetic. It’s a brand built on an old, historic farm in Long Island. Many people come in and say they grew up in Long Island and are familiar with us,” he explained.

Voulgaris is also a non-fiction author who has written 7 books, with his last book

“On the Water” about classic yachts.

How does he feel about his clientele who bring their laptops, work remotely and spend several hours there? “We encourage people to stay and make it feel like home,” he noted. On weekends, when it gets extremely busy, most of its laptop users are taking off so the timing works well.

Is he looking to open a third shop? Nothing is definite, but he has his eyes on the east end of Long Island.

He says the keys to its sustained success are: 1) Keeping up the quality of its food and products, 2) Avoiding following most trends, even “farm to table” has become a cliché, he says.

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