Wednesday, July 16, 2014
WILLIAMSBURG — Tina Crotty-Vandoloski has traded her longtime job at the Hampshire County Jail and House of Correction to running a hot dog and vegetable stand on Route 9 (Goshen Road) west of the center of town.
Vandoloski, 53, of Cummington, describes herself as the sole proprietor, chief cook, bottle-washer, grocery-getter and lawn-mower of Mama T’s which offers local meats and produce.
Mama T’s, which includes a cart for cooking the meats and sheds for fresh vegetables and other ingredients, opened earlier this month for its second season at 40 Goshen Road near Village Hill Road. It will remain open Tuesdays through Sundays from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. through the end of the summer growing season.
After retiring in 2012 from her job as a corrections officer for 25 years with the Hampshire County Sheriff’s Office, Vandoloski fed family, friends and travelers along Route 9 in Williamsburg from a vegetable cart parked outside the sugar shack at Turner Farms at 28 Goshen Road. She expanded her business a year ago after her sister sold her the lot with a shed where Mama T’s relocated. That piece of land known as Crotty Corner has been owned by her family for many years.
The menu has grown to include burgers along with old favorites such as kielbasa, hot dogs and vegetable salads. Vandoloski said she buys local whenever she can. The kielbasa and hot dogs come from Blue Seal Natural Casing in Chicopee, the bread from Always Fresh bakery in Connecticut, and the current crop of veggies from farms such as Long Plain Farm in Whately.
Vandoloski said she wanted a place for locals to stop and grab a bite during work breaks. “That was my whole philosophy with the place,” she said. “The contractors or the workmen can pull in grab a dog and soda and if they have to keep going, they can go, and if not they can sit down and take a break.”
The addition of the vegetable shed this year means she has space for corn, strawberries and other local crops. She decided to combine fresh vegetables with hot dogs,Vandoloski said, because Williamsburg did not have enough options for fresh vegetables, and the Pioneer Valley’s offerings are too good to pass up.
“I just decided we didn’t have that much here in Williamsburg for local produce, so I traveled in the mornings to get all the vegetables in Whately, Hatfield, Northampton, and the corn (last year was) fabulous,” she said. “Actually the man that I get it from delivers it to me about every morning and when the cantaloupes come, my goodness, they’re like eating candy.”
Roger Gunn, 65, of Cummington helped assemble Vandoloski’s produce shed. He comes to Mama T’s most weeks, and said that while the food is appealing, it is also just a good place to hang out.
“You bet we eat the food here,” he said. “This is the food place, this is a great spot to get together and see friends and actually talk a little business over the tables, you’d be amazed at what goes on.”
Vandoloski agrees that her spot has become a community hub. “All the sudden you’ll see a whole table just burst out laughing because it’s just a neighborhood thing — they love me here,” she said.