Flour and Salt Announces Expansion Into Former Rye Berry Space

Taylor MacDonald, Staff Writer

In an Instagram post made on Feb. 17, Flour and Salt, the bagel shop and cafe located in downtown Hamilton at 7 Maple Avenue, announced they would be expanding into the space previously occupied by The Rye Berry, around the corner on Lebanon Street after its closure at the end of February. Owners Britty and Brendan O’Connor, both Colgate alumni, said in the post that they would keep their original location as a prep space that would eventually become a cake and dessert shop to open in mid to late summer, where they would hope to transition the cafe into Rye Berry’s former space by early May.  The cafe will remain open weekly from Wednesday through Sunday, but will stay open until 5:00 p.m. upon the transition, three hours later than the business’s current hours. The expansion also comes less than a year after the two Colgate alumni opened their second business in Hamilton, Martha’s on Madison (MOMs), a specialty grocery store and tavern. 

Britty O’Connor confirmed that for the time being the Maple Ave. storefront would also be converted into a prep kitchen style space to expand current business practices. With the addition of more kitchen and storage space comes many more opportunities for the business and its staff, especially amid staffing shortages caused by the COVID-19 pandemic that have uprooted small businesses, O’Connor explained.

“We’ve had a lot of requests for wholesale accounts, or the university wants bagels or they want a really big order of cookies, and we usually say no because we don’t have the space for it,” O’Connor said. “It’s a bummer to turn that kind of stuff down when it’s more work for your staff and more opportunities for hours to hire people. That’ll be really big.”

Although Britty and Brendan are excited for the expansion, the loss of Rye Berry as a village staple makes the transition a bittersweet one.

“Krista and Pat (owners of Rye Berry) are good friends of ours in addition to being business friends, so I think right now in this particular time it’s very scary to hear about other businesses closing,” Britty O’Connor said. “It’s a huge loss to the community.”

The owners also clarified several more pieces of information regarding the new use of the space on Lebanon. The stage in the sitting area, for example, will now be used more frequently for poetry nights, musicians, and stand-up comedy. This, they hope, will help fill a niche for those local coffee shop, community style events. 

This information comes paired with the fact that the interior of 37 Lebanon St. will remain largely unchanged, preserving the aesthetics and feel that students and community members cherish.

“Purely from an aesthetic standpoint, it’s a much more beautiful space than the one we’re in now. There’s so much more light, so much more seating, there’s brick on the wall – I love the brick wall,” O’Connor said. “I’ve always loved it, even before, and I’m really grateful that [The Rye Berry] worked with us so that we could take it over.”

Sophomore Clay Van Ostrand expressed similarly mixed feelings about the transition — disappointed to see Rye Berry close but looking forward to the space’s second life.

“I’m sad about The Rye Berry closing, but at the same time I’m excited for how Flour and Salt can grow . . . It’s bittersweet,” Ostrand said. “I remember during first year that me and my best friend would go to  Rye Berry for breakfast all the time. We would have to eat in the car, but we also could go to the Farmer’s Market since the location was so close.” 

Ostrand added that the larger area would be able to meet more demand, noting how the expansion of Flour and Salt would appropriately fill the space left by Rye Berry.

Students and community members alike cherish the space on Lebanon St. for many reasons. Over time, spaces such as these build meaning that can transcend the ownership, aesthetics, and food served there, even though these factors play a large role in the place’s overall purpose. 

“We think that these communal spaces hold a lot of value in making towns like Hamilton special,” Brendan O’Connor said.

The O’Connors said the space is so personal that the opportunity to be a part of its next chapter was an offer too great to turn down.

“I searched in my Colgate email, and I had so many important university meetings there,” Britty O’Connor said. “We think it’s really cool to be able to run this space where all these little moments are happening. Someone’s building a relationship with this space that you’re a part of […] We’re really, really grateful to be working with The Rye Berry.”

Flour and Salt on Maple Ave. will continue to serve customers up until the move to the former Rye Berry space. In response to community members who want more dining options open later, the operating hours will be adjusted. After the transition, Flour and Salt will be open from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday through Saturday and 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Sunday.