The savory pork loin used in the porchetta sandwich at the new Town Market Andover is slow-roasted for 12 hours. It seems like a lot of effort for a sandwich, but “it’s worth it,” says chef Mark Porcaro.
Actually, a lot of effort has gone into every aspect of the custom-built café and marketplace owned by Andover resident Tom Walsh—from the 5,000-pound Douglas fir trusses trucked in from Oregon to support the roof to the high-tech kitchen that includes a smoker to the deeply experienced team Walsh brought from Boston to open the place.
“I have a vision for being the very best in everything we do, and I’m willing to make that investment,” says Walsh. To start, he hired Porcaro—executive chef at Top of the Hub in Boston for 15 years—to run the kitchen, ushering in restaurant-quality food in a café/prepared food setting. Pastry chef Lee Napoli has a similar pedigree, celebrated for her sweet treats all over Boston for several decades. And retail director Rob McCarron, who oversees the store’s enticing selection of 400 bottles of wine, as well as beer and gourmet items, expanded his extensive knowledge of wine, cheese, and other delectables from posts at the Boston Harbor Hotel and L’Espalier, among other top establishments.
It is clearly a big investment, both in terms of staffing and the design/build of the space. The cozy dining area with its warm tones, soft lighting, and photography by Walsh’s daughter evokes the mood of a sunset. Bluestone porches surround the building, and there may be live music in the summer. There’s even an ice cream stand—Walsh and his family took on the enviable task of sampling scoops from multiple local creameries before settling on Crescent Ridge Dairy in Sharon to provide the cold, creamy confections.
Walsh admits he may have deeper pockets than your average entrepreneur—a decade ago he sold a tech company he built from scratch to Xerox, for a sum sizable enough to let him pursue his dreams. He also has grand ambitions—this is the first of multiple Town Markets to come.
Walsh is deeply and personally involved in every aspect of the business—he even strapped on a harness and joined a team of roofers in January 2015, during the epic snows, to move his project forward. After much anticipation from the community, he quietly opened on Christmas Eve in 2015.
“Anticipation in the neighborhood was so great that I promised the team we would open the minute we could—the final inspections were the day before Christmas Eve, so we opened Christmas Eve,” Walsh says. He just propped an “Open” sign by the road, and was treated to a steady stream of people picking up charcuterie, cheese platters, wines, and mouthwatering desserts to round out their holiday meals.
Neighbors had been looking at an empty lot since 2007, when a gas station was razed to make way for a hoped-for general store. Walsh joined the project in 2014, with a vision to make a “general store on steroids”—something of an homage to a neighborhood purveyor he recalls from his youth in Newton.
“My brothers and I made a lot of great memories there,” says Walsh, who greets patrons with warmth and sincerity. “If I can create a place where people can make those kinds of memories, I’ll be happy.”
Town Market Andover
429 South Main St.