A little bit of Vermont is apparently on its way to Fifth Avenue, as a new "Vermont maple farm store" called Black Bear Sugarworks is coming to 374 Fifth Avenue (between Fifth and Sixth Streets), in the space last occupied by the Fendenkrais Center.
Essentially an artisanal maple syrup shop, they'll sell a couple different grades of syrup tapped and produced on their 258-acre farm up in the Green Mountains, as well as some other Vermont specialties.
The company has an interesting backstory: in 2005, Mark Hastings, an entrepreneur who founded and ran a high-tech Boston-based company before selling it off, bought a farm that had been producing syrup for a century. There are 140 acres of sugar maples and 8,500 taps on the property.
In a comment on Park Slope Stoop, Hastings says that the shop will open soon and sell maple syrup, maple sugar, maple cream, and possibly maple candy. Then they'll close up until the spring (interesting), when they'll add chili cheese dogs, old fashioned cream sodas, milkshakes, lemonade, and Maple Creemees (maple soft serve) to the menu.
Since 2009, Hastings has run a farm stand up in Battleboro, VT that sells all of the above, and it's proven to be a big hit. There was also an aborted plan to open a duplicate in Fort Greene, but this is certainly an upgrade.
The chili cheese dogs sound intriguing, and seem to have legions of fans up north: the pork and grass-fed beef franks are made by Vermont-based Black Watch Farm, as is the beef in the syrup-sweetened chili, and the cheese is cheddar from Cabot or Grafton Village. It's served in a traditional bun, and looks quite tasty.
It sounds like a risky endeavor, but Hastings sounds like he can afford it, and must have had this business model in mind when he started the company. There's certainly been a recent spate of shops opening that specialize in one type of food, made as artisanally as possible (see Empire Mayo), and just about everyone likes maple syrup in one form or another. But does that mean that a shop specializing in it can succeed here? Those hot dogs and creemees certainly sound pretty good.