More Than a Meal at Bedford Gourmet
Story by Holly J. Coley
Photographed by Bill Black
Bedford Gourmet owners Alex Walsh and Debbie Franzese know the recipe for success, and the ingredients may surprise you. Since taking over the shop in 2010, the pair have kept the 40-year-old eatery as the place to know, and the really good food is only part of their secret sauce.
You know the stereotype about New Yorkers never smiling? It may be true—at least for me—but I discover differently, in the most pleasant of ways, while visiting Bedford Gourmet, the artisanal food boutique at 460 Old Post Road.
As a writer, I learned a long time ago that to know what a business is truly like, one must experience it from a customer’s point of view. If you’re reviewing a restaurant, eat there. If you’re profiling a designer, try their clothes on.
A word of caution: you must do this without announcing who you are to the owner or staff. It’s the only way to get a genuine view of the landscape. Say who you are and run the risk of management putting on a big show so you’ll never be the wiser that a place has poor service or the kind of regulars you wouldn’t want to meet in a back alley. This is journalism 101.
That’s why on the day that I interview Alex Walsh and Debbie Franzese, owners of Bedford Gourmet, I visit early, incognito. I buy a cup of coffee and discreetly shoot pictures of their display cases with my camera because I’m a millennial and that’s what we do. That’s when I notice something funny. Everyone I see seems to be smiling. Not just the woman who takes my latte order or other members of the staff but everyone in the boutique setting. The woman who stands beside me while I add sugar to my drink? Smiling. The person who opens the door as I walk out? Same deal. In fact, when I go back to my car I make eye contact with another stranger and find her to be like the Cheshire Cat.