Who We Are
For over 20 years, Peter Platt and Meredith Kennard have been making their mark in the dynamic hospitality and food scene in the Berkshire Hills. During that time, Peter’s work as one of the top Chefs in the region has been met with unalloyed praise.
Peter Platt, a graduate of Williams College, learned his craft at the Parker House Hotel in Boston under the guidance of Jasper White and Lydia Shire. This beginning was notably followed by a twelve year stint as executive chef at Wheatleigh in Lenox, Massachusetts, the renowned Lenox property well known for its exceptional cuisine. Peter accepted the position as executive chef at The Old Inn on the Green in 2002, transforming the restaurant into a top destination for diners in the region. In 2005, Peter and Meredith purchased the Old Inn from former owner Bradford Wagstaff and Leslie Miller. Peter and Meredith then went on to purchase the Southfield Store from Tim Newman in order to have a dedicated baking kitchen and continue to operate the store as a café serving breakfast, lunch, and sometimes dinner.
Platt describes his cuisine as “innovative American,” based on French technique. Like the Inn itself, Platt strikes a balance between tradition and innovation. He brings a classically informed sensibility and a strong sense of the past to his menu at The Old Inn. For the past four years, The Old Inn on the Green has received Zagat’s top food ranking in the Berkshires. Recently, Travel & Leisure named the property one of “30 Great U.S. Inns” and Food & Wine listed the Inn as one of “America’s Top 50 Hotel Restaurants.” As chef and owner of the Old Inn on the Green, Peter will honor the Inn’s tradition fine and classic food.
Peter has attracted significant national press attention over the years and earned a list of accolades in publications including The New York Times Magazine, Wine Spectator, Town & Country and Departures. He is a board member and supporter of Berkshire grown, an organization promoting organic farming and sustainable agriculture working to connect local farmers and area chefs.
Meredith Kennard, an Emerson College graduate, came to the Berkshires with Peter in 1985 as Director of Chatham House, a group home for the Berkshire County Association for Retarded Citizens. After eight years in that position, Meredith began working at Hancock Shaker Village in the Farm and Garden Department. After three seasons she became Assistant Farm and Garden Coordinator. With a passion for historic farming and gardening, she eventually came to be Gardens Manager, directly responsible for two period gardens, one of the world’s largest Shaker medicinal herb gardens, field crops and an heirloom seed program.
Peter and Meredith are continuing the long tradition of classic New England hospitality that is personified in The Old Inn on the Green and The Southfield Store.
A Little History
According to oral histories, the original Southfield Store building was built about 1907. Little is known about the owners in those early years. What is known is that in 1928, the building was destroyed by fire.
At that time, Dudley Turner, owner of the Turner and Cook Whip factory just down the road from the store, also owned the store and supervised it’s rebuilding in the aftermath of the fire. The rebuild store apparently shared the same footprint as its predecessor and is the same building, with only minor changes that we see today. The new building, which also included the Southfield Post Office, reopened for business in 1931.
In 1934, Turner sold the Store to the partnership of Gardner Rug and Tim Oates. In 1936, Mr. Oates sold his interest to Gardner Rug, who continued the Store’s operation with his wife, Dorothy—know to her many friends as “Dot”. Mr. Rugg died in 1967, and his widow soldiered on for several years before deciding to sell.
In 1970, Victor and Pearl Spigarolo of Waterbury, CT, bought the property from Dot Stevens, which by that time included the Store and the small house at the rear of the property.
Barbara and David Lowman bought the Store and house and took over the business in October of 1980. During the Lowman’s tenure, the Post Office moved to a ground floor of the Buggywhip Factory. The Lowman’s operated the store until October 2001.
Until its current incarnation, the Southfield Store had always been a general store, selling a wide variety of merchandise befitting a rural community—groceries, meats, gasoline, delicatessen, hardware, house wares, agricultural products, clothing and so forth. While sandwiches were an occasional item during the Ruggs’ tenure, with the construction of the Kolburne in 1968, they became a standard feature. That practice continued throughout the 2o years the Lowman’s operated the Store. And while there were no tables and chairs in the store, depending on the season and the weather, customers would often eat their sandwiches either in the Store or on the porch benches.
In November 2003, Tim Newman became the store’s owner and operator. Newman spent seven months on renovations and opened in June 2004. In all these years, we know of the Store being closed only after the fire in 1928 and from October 2001, when the Lowman’s retired and its reopening on June 3rd 2004.
Much has changed in Southfield—indeed in all the southern Berkshires—since the Lowman’s purchased the Store in 1980. New Marlborough Township, of which Southfield is a part, was “discovered” by a growing number of New Yorker’s eager to experience life in these gentle hills. Over the years, more and more families and couples with ties to New York City purchased homes or property surrounding Southfield to enjoy on weekends and for longer stretches during summer and ski season. Today something like forty percent of property owners in the area fall into this category.
With its reopening in 2004, the Store was transformed from a classic New England general store into a Cafe and Coffee Bar, with seating for 30 people and daily food service, as well a retail business offering fine groceries, an international selection of cheeses and cured meats, wine, beer and spirits, things for the kitchen and table and gifts.
Today the Store is owned and operated by Peter Platt and Meredith Kennard and continues as a café serving breakfast, lunch, and in the summer, dinner Thursday through Sunday. Peter and Meredith own the Old Inn On The Green where Peter is chef.