By John Hammer
After seven long years, Steve’s Garage corner is beginning a new life. Peter Carreiro, “the milkman” of Charlotte’s milk delivery firm Rise ‘n Shine, held an open house at the property on Thursday, June 20, during which he and his wife, Dale, highlighted their plan for an ambitious redevelopment of the five acres at the corner of Church Hill Road and Route 7. The Carrieros plan to present a family-friendly environment of agricultural diversity, and a welcoming place to stop for Route 7 traffic and locals alike. The new name for the corners will be Rise ‘n Shine Farm.
The former Steve’s Citgo will get a new facelift and made to appear like a large red barn. What was the forecourt will become a fenced-in pasture for sheep and poultry, including both laying hens and meat birds. A small flock of ducks is already enjoying the fire pond behind the garage building.
The open house was a chance to showcase some of the Carrieros’ future plans. They had invited a small number of local merchants selling flowers, meats and produce as well as a pizza truck to participate in a mini-farmers market. Despite the heavy rains of the afternoon, a sizable crowd of locals enjoyed the outdoor market.
Half Baked Pizza’s William Wisell sold out well before closing time. Peter Carriero’s comments regarding the success of the event echoed his enthusiasm. “I’m ecstatic in how it turned out …it went great.”
The Carrieros’ sketch plan was on display, and Peter briefed it continuously throughout the open house. Plans call for converting the garage into a creamery and commercial farmstand featuring meats, produce and flowers from local farms along with an ice cream production and serving area.
There were two comment walls on which visitors were asked to fill out Post It notes with their suggestions. One was on the future use they would prefer to see for the old Bingo Hall and Snack Bar on the south end of the property. Suggestions ranged from a commercial kitchen to a bakery-café/diner where customers could stop for breakfast, pastry or coffee. The other comment wall solicited feedback for their new creemee recipe.
The former snack bar formerly known as Uncle Sam’s, was a Charlotte favorite for many years, owned by the Spear Family and run by Helena Spear. And the very first creemee served at the open house was by a smiling Mrs. Spear, whom the Carreiros had invited to kick off the event. It was a bit like the old days for both her and the crowd.
The timetable for completing the redevelopment depends on permitting and the construction schedule. But the Carreiros hope to have the creamery operation open soon and then follow up with the opening of the farmstand later this summer. The success of last Thursday’s farm and food event has also spurred interest in continuing these on a periodic basis through the summer during construction.
The current Rise ‘n Shine building on Root Road will remain the commercial center for delivery operations.