The former Thompson's Pharmacy location on Main Street is in the process of becoming the Coop at Fish Hawk Acres.

Fish Hawk Acres expanding with new ‘Coop’ location on Main Street

BUCKHANNON – Fish Hawk Acres is expanding to another building on Main Street that will allow the popular restaurant/grocery/market to offer six new services to patrons in Buckhanon and beyond.

The Coop at Fish Hawk Acres plans to open to the public on August 1 in the old Thompson’s Pharmacy building on Main Street. Coop manager Sara Slider said the new location will allow Fish Hawk to roll out the new services in several phases, starting with a retail market and dedicated floral space for Blooms by Juliet.

The restaurant and Grab-and-Go items will remain just down the street at the current Fish Hawk Acres location, which will also feature additional seating. Slider said the new Coop will allow the local business to more fully realize the vision of chef and owner Dale Hawkins.

“We want to make sure we’re giving each piece of the Coop the attention it needs; these are six of Dale’s dreams, all under one roof,” Slider said. “By bringing them all together, we’re able to give them more space than they would ordinarily have.”

The first phase of the Coop includes opening Blooms by Juliet in the front of the store. The unique fresh flower arrangments and houseplants were previously available in the original Fish Hawk building but will be expanded at the Coop.

“It was in the market, but it was much smaller,” Slider said. “We’re able to expand it here. We’re focusing on houseplants and cut flowers. Juliet does beautiful arrangements and we’re doing a terrarium building, too, which I think is really cool with air plants with succulents.”

A station will offer a series of materials so customers can create their own terrarium.

“I’m really excited about Blooms by Juliet,” Slider said. “I know we have some really cool greenhouses, but we don’t necessarily have anything for houseplants — and people love plants. We also want to have a place where they can come in and talk to someone who knows a lot about plants.”

The center of the store will feature the retail items that used to be located at the Fish Hawk market.

“We will have a lot more space here, so everything is going to be spread out a little bit more,” Slider said. “We’re going to still have all of our main grocery items. We’re focusing on things that are not available at Target or Walmart — we want people to come and know they’re going to find something different to work with.”

The retail section will feature items at various price points, including cooking materials and equipment.

“We’re trying to keep everything at several different price points,” Slider noted. “We’re not trying to be super high-end; we want to be accessible to everyone. I’m also bringing in some professional kitchen items, half-sheet trays, deli containers — stuff that has been in kitchens for years. I love these things and they don’t exist outside of professional kitchens, so we want to be able to get those into the hands of people who want to use them.”

The third phase of the Coop is the establishment of the Fish Hawk Acres Community Supported Kitchen, where Fish Hawk will buy local meats and produce and then create menu items that people can pick up.

“This is a return to Fish Hawk’s roots, which is really cool,” Slider said. “We’ve made some modifications; we’re making it modern. I think that’s going to start in the middle of August. We have been working on a menu for that, and all the orders will flow through the Coop, but it’s going to be using grocery items from the farms.

“With the CSK, we’re buying that produce, we’re buying those proteins from local folks, and then we’re doing something with it so people don’t have to do that for themselves. We are also going to be selling some produce directly, like squash, zucchini, tomatoes — all those summer vegetables.”

The Coop will also be developing meal kits for those who want to do the cooking themselves.

“People love meal kits,” Slider said. “We are testing and developing several recipes right now because we don’t want to put anything out there that doesn’t work. The two recipes we have now take under 20 minutes and two pans. I’m also working on a salad box because I am a salad eater, so if I could just get a whole bunch of salad ingredients once a week in my fridge, that would save 90 percent of my grocery shopping.”

The CSK also hopes to deliver meals to residents of neighboring counties.

Phase four of the Coop is the Emporium, an informational station featuring various vendors that Fish Hawk has worked with and recommends.

“One of the things we love about doing catering is that we get to meet really awesome wedding vendors,” Slider said. “We’ve worked with great photographers, videographers, DJs and florists, and we want to bring them into this as well. This will be a place where we can showcase other vendors that we know, so if you’re planning an event, you can come in and look at portfolios of people who have our endorsement.”

The portfolios will include contact information, and the Emporium will include a seating area where clients and potential vendors can meet.

The fifth phase is to offer cooking classes at the Coop.

“We’re looking at fall 2022 for the classes,” Slider said. “They’re two to three hours long and you’ll leave with recipes. There’s also a meal involved, where we all sit down and share what we made. One of the cool things I’m working on right now is figuring out a way for people to take an extra portion to have bragging rights when they get home. We’re also looking at family-friendly classes so that the kids can be in the kitchen, too.”

Slider also wants to include meal prep courses on Sundays.

“People could come in and prep their lunches for the week, and then the other course would be prepping meals for the freezer for the week,” Slider said. “I know a lot of moms and dads who don’t necessarily have a lot of time to socialize. This would be a way to bring them together for a little bit — if they have friends and want to get together, to spend some time getting stuff cooked.”

The final phase will be a travel program, where Fish Hawk will organize trips to other cities, states and even countries, focused on local food and drinks.

“Dale loves to travel; we all love to travel,” Slider said. “Dale and I actually travel very similarly, so if we go somewhere, there are things we want to see, but mostly we want to eat. That’s always the stressful part when you travel — where do you go? What are you missing? With us, it would be guided trips that are food and beverage focused. We would make reservations and we would set up some exclusive dining events. When we went to Charleston in March, we did a chef’s table that was incredible. We want to take people places and show them the best a place has to offer.”

They plan to start the trips domestically but want to expand to international trips.

“We want to do warm places in the winter and cold places in the summer,” Slider said. “We would like to start going international after a while. I’m pretty sure Dale really wants to get to Italy and I’m dying to go to Spain.”

The deli section, prepared meals, desserts, breads and produce will still be located at the original Fish Hawk building. The wine and beer selections will be moved to the Coop once the license is procured for the new building.

“That whole empty wall is hopefully going to be wine, and we’re trying to have wine and merchandise as well,” Slider said.

More updates on the expansion, specials and Fish Hawk menus can be found on their Facebook page here.

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