Culinary turnover sweeps Spring St.

Spring Street is undergoing several key changes this fall, as new eateries such as Spring Street Pizza and Sweets & Beans, both next to the Purple Pub, are opening their doors to College students and locals. Meanwhile, That’s a Wrap has closed up shop and Lickety Split may follow suit when its lease is up at the end of October.

Three new additions have come to town in the past few months. Sweets & Beans boasts a colorful display of lollipops, among other sweet treats. On Water Street, Hops & Vines has opened as a bar and restaurant fusion, sporting draft beers as well as fine wines. El Conejo Corredor, which translates to “the running rabbit,” is the taco and burrito truck parked on Spring Street.

Sweets & Beans and Hops & Vines, which both opened this summer, are co-owned and managed by Gil Rubenstein and David Aldecoa. Both Rubenstein and Aldecoa worked in New York City prior to setting up shop in Williamstown. Rubenstein worked at Unwined at Symphony Space on the Upper West Side, where patrons could enjoy weekly live music at no cover charge, before moving on to consulting and financial work for various restaurants in the city. Aldecoa spent the past seven years at the Essex House Hotel.

photograph of Sweets & Beans storefront
Sweets & Beans, Spring Street’s new coffee and candy store, attracts passerby with its colorful display windows and outdoor seating.

According to Rubinstein, their creative idea for the two places was “to bring the trendiness of the city to the friendliness of the country.” Rubenstein was approached by Mark Paresky, son of David Paresky ’60 and owner of many buildings on Spring Street, as a potential tenant in 2008 for the location where the Purple Pub currently stands. After some creative differences, Rubenstein ended up not leasing the space but returned to Williamstown because of its small town charm. He brought his partner, Aldecoa, and soon they decided Williamstown was the place to start their businesses together.

According to its owners, Sweets & Beans exists to add another place for students and locals to sit and relax. Along with a variety of sweets, the shop sells ice cream, pastries and coffee.

Hops & Vines consists of a beer garden (Hops) and a brasserie (Vines). Hops features an illuminated beer pong table, bar stools, high and low tables and chalkboard-painted columns for patrons to write messages.

Hops sells 16 craft beers, one of which is a House Lager for $3.50. The other 15 beers range from $6 to $9. In order to cater to a college student’s budget, there are also the “Hop’s King Cans” – selections of 16 ounce beers for less than $3.

The owners said the restaurant is still tweaking its prices and specials as students begin to fill Williamstown restaurants once again. One is Bubble Q Sundays, where you can enjoy a barbecued entree with two sides and a glass of sparkling wine for a fixed price of $14 starting at 11 a.m. and lasting until whenever the food runs out. The two other specials currently available are $1 Slider Mondays and $1 Oyster Tuesdays from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

The executive chef for Hops & Vines, Nate Yovu, has designed the menu personally. The possibility of Yovu creating different weekly recipes for college students to cook up in their own kitchens is in the works; cooking classes might also be available to students and locals in the future. Rubenstein added that he aims to bring live music into Hops & Vines with the purpose of creating a similar vibe to Unwined, his previous place of employment.

Rubenstein said that he hopes for Hops to be that fond memory “you’ll [have] after you graduate,” and Vines to be a place where students can bring their parents on visiting days. There is also a private room for special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries. According to Rubinstein, it is a place to enjoy “great food in two places” and get that “social aspect in a fun environment.”

Brian Cole ’11 the operator of El Conejo Corredor, said his reason for opening his truck in Williamstown was a desire to bring something to College students that he didn’t have when he attended – not just cheap filling food, but cheap Mexican food. Having just graduated, Cole explained he is by no means in the position of leasing a place on Spring Street for upwards of $200,000.

Cole said that he plans to extend his truck and its services as “an affordable product for a few years,” before he takes on a new venture. Starting last Friday, El Conejo Corredor began its late night hours, which Cole hopes to offer every week on Friday and Saturday nights (“‘Rabbit’ Runs Around Town to Serve Up Tex-Mex,” Sept. 14). He recounted the gathering on Friday night as a crowd of 30 students enjoying good Mexican food prepared fresh every morning as well as music.

Spring Street Pizza, located adjacent to the Purple Pub, is expected to have its grand opening in no later than two weeks. Final touches are being added to the menu and its owner hopes it will become a place for students and locals to hang out and share delicious pizza.