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Residents will no longer have to travel across the Causeway to get a carton of eggs and a gallon of milk thanks to Turnstone Market’s mid-summer opening.

The cozy store is filled with local, high-quality products like meats and seafood, as well as fresh vegetables and handmade pasta. Store Owner Leslie Intoppa also stocks curated items made by local denizens as well as spices and herb mixes she makes herself.

“I sort of want to encourage people to cook,” she said. “I love cooking and I want people to come in here and, if they want an idea of what to make for dinner, I can help them. I want it to be a friendly, more interactive place to come and shop.”

Intoppa described the Turnstone Market as a place where you can not only go and grab things for dinner, but also stay and talk about food.

State Sen. Brenden P. Crighton (D-Lynn) stated that, since small businesses have been on everyone’s minds recently, it’s great to see Intoppa open up her market in Nahant.

“The town of Nahant has not many food options so this is certainly something that I think a lot of people will take advantage of,” the senator added. “It’s great to see businesses not only surviving (and) fighting through the pandemic, but also new businesses now opening.”

Town Administrator Antonio Barletta added that it was great to see Turnstone open, as it’s rare that new businesses come to Nahant.

“We’re just so happy and pleased that Leslie’s decided to open her doors here in Nahant, (and) provide a local place for top quality products for residents and visitors to stop in and grab groceries,” he said. “It’s a great option for all of us.”

Intoppa says that the support she has received from community members has been incredible.

“When people come in here and tell me how happy they are to have this, and look around and say how wonderful it looks, I get emotional thinking about it because I put a lot of effort into it and it’s nice that people appreciate it,” she said.

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Town residents Vivian and Marc Iannotti are building a family business empire one grocery store at a time.

Vivian Iannotti called the couple’s new Stop and Compare store in Lynn’s State Street plaza “a culmination of everything” they have worked hard to achieve ever since Vivian’s mother, Betty Calvo, opened the first Stop and Compare in Chelsea in 1996.

They opened a second store in 2005 on Adams Street Extension in Lynn and drew on experienced employees in the Chelsea and Lynn locations to build out their workforce in downtown Lynn. 

“Creating three teams out of two wasn’t easy,” said Marc Iannotti. 

Some people were sad to move to a different store, but they did what was in the best interest of the team and the company as a whole, Marc said.

The idea to open a third store took shape in the most unlikely of circumstances — the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Iannottis were approached by the owners of the property in the middle of the pandemic. 

“We didn’t know what was going to happen,” he said. “The supply chain was broken.” 

Maria Pace, a spokesperson for State Street shopping center owner Brixmor Property Group, said Shaw’s supermarket’s decision to leave the center prompted Brixmor to seek out another grocery tenant. 

The company recognized that Shaw’s exit would add to the “grocery gap” in the city, leaving low-income residents without varied food purchase options. 

“One of Brixmor’s foremost tenets (is) to bring in uses that are relevant to the communities we serve,” said Pace. 

The Iannottis pushed ahead with opening a second Lynn store, signing a contract in July of 2020 and officially opening in October.

The supermarket offers fresh produce and fresh meat and specializes in a wide selection of goods from tropical countries of Latin and South America and cuts of meat that are popular with individuals from those areas. It also has a full kitchen that serves both Latin and American food. 

“Our customer base is diverse,” said the grocer’s website. “We try to serve the tastes of the ethnic population of the neighborhood. In Chelsea, most of our customers are from Central and South America. Lynn’s customers hail from Santo Domingo and Guatemala.” 

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As she looks back on the last year, Vinnin Liquors President Angela Ansara said the business is recovering from the pandemic, but there is still a need for quality employees.

“We’re still recovering a little bit, but it’s still hard to find the employees who want to work because of the pandemic,” she said. “A good employee would be someone self-motivated, eager to learn, ask questions and show up on time. What we ask for is pretty simple.”

During the early period of the pandemic, Ansara said alcohol demands were high, leading to more deliveries in Swampscott and other communities such as Salem, Beverly and even Boston.  

“We have delivery to go anywhere in Massachusetts,” Ansara said. “If it’s too far out, we will ship it. If it’s a big event, we will ship it. We go to places like Gloucester, Boxford and Boston all the time.”

Vinnin Liquors was established in the early 1970s by Ansara’s mother, Marge, who also commissioned the building’s construction. The store was originally on Humphrey Street before relocating to its current location at 371 Paradise Road in 1975. Before starting Vinnin Liquors, she built and founded Lynnway Liquors in Lynn in 1964.

“Her dad — my grandfather — sold perishables,” Ansara said. “The one piece of advice he gave her is: ‘Don’t go into business for things that expire.’”

Ansara said her mother broke ground by being one of the few female owners of a liquor store at that time, and that she faced challenges when getting signatures to start her business.

“It was hard times because women owners weren’t looked at very friendly,” Ansara said. “I remember my mother telling me she had a petition around Swampscott to get the dream she wanted.”

As for Ansara, she said she had been interested in business since she was a child.  

“I was always a very business-minded person,” Ansara said. “I would always take a cart to King’s Beach and sell lemonade.”

Ansara started working at the store in sales after graduating from college in 1994. She then climbed the ranks to become president in 2012. At the age of 93, her mother is still helping out at the store, albeit less frequently.

She’s a minority owner and she does pop in a little bit less these days,” she said. “She still tries to rule the roost the best she can.”

Ansara said business follows her wherever she goes, and she someday hopes her children will follow in her footsteps.

“It comes naturally to me,” she said. “Maybe if it was more of a mental challenge it would be more of a stress. I want to share what I know and teach others and do business and marketing.”

For those pursuing entrepreneurship, Ansara has a piece of advice: “Anything is possible.”

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Ranging from ham-and-swiss hand pies, rosemary-and-lemon cookies, all the way to chartreuse cocktails and pomegranate martinis, there is something delicious for just about anyone at Zestfriendz, a bakery/small-bites bar in Swampscott. 

Owned and operated by two “zest friendz,” Margie Peterson and Trudi Fagerlund, this bakery by day and small-bites bar by night prides itself on unique flavor pairings and a focus on bringing people together. Zestfriendz coined its name from the pair’s zest for life, powerful flavors in the kitchen, and their 23-year-long friendship. 

“She’s (Peterson) had a lifelong dream to have the bakery side, and I always just wanted a bar. So we thought let’s just form the concepts into one business rather than separating them, and let’s leverage the upside of both,” said Fagerlund. 

Peterson runs the bakery side, and about 90 percent of the baked goods are from her own recipes. She crafted the idea for the Zestfriendz signature rosemary-lemon cookie during her time running an at-home bakery business, Delicious Designs. Although the rosemary-lemon cookie is a staple for the bakery, Peterson’s scones are pushing for front-runner.

“You’re never going to taste a better scone,” Fagerlund added. “I would throw anyone down on a scone,” said Peterson. 

Peterson scratch bakes a batch of citrus scones every morning. 

“I always have a citrus scone, and that’s the whole lemon-lime thing; it goes with the zest again,” she said. 

Rumor has it, Gov. Charlie Baker is “infatuated” with the scone as well.

“People on social media are like ‘I was fighting over the last citrus scone today,’ or they’re like, ‘am I too late for the citrus scones?” said Peterson.

Her other flavors of scones change daily, ranging from cheddar-scallion, honey-lavender, maple-oatmeal, orange-cranberry and cinnamon raisin. 

Another crowd favorite is their hand pies. Due to their small kitchen and inventory space, Peterson didn’t want to have sandwiches on the menu, but needed a savory grab-and-go option — hence the creation of a hand pie, a pastry creatively named because of its pie-dough crust and it’s hand-holdability. These delectable treats have people coming back for more than just one handful.

“People come in and are like ‘oh, can I have five of the ham-and-cheese hand pies?’” Peterson said, and explained they are the most surprising success of the bakery. Along with the ham-and-cheese hand pie, they offer a tomato-and-dill-havarti hand pie as well.

The two friends are really excited for what’s to come in the warmer months — in particular the outdoor dining right on the water which will seat up to 20 customers on a shaded painted patio. 

“You can come in in your flip flops and you don’t have to care that you have sand,” said Peterson. 

Some menu ideas for the warmer seasons include an outdoor oyster bar, gourmet ice-cream sandwiches with unique flavor pairings, and to-go items for people to pick up and take out onto their boat or to the beach. 

“And obviously we want to have some fun, light cocktails,” said Peterson. 

Speaking of cocktails, Fagerlund is shaking up some absolutely delicious drinks on the bar side. 

Fagerlund recommends trying the “Hair of the Frog” cocktail — a 110-percent proof, green french-liquor gin, and lime. 

“It’s (chartreuse) a green, expensive, herbal, high-octane alcohol. None of us had tried it. So I bought a bottle, we sat around and we were like, what do we put with this? We looked up a few recipes that were with chartreuse and we were like OK, let’s do a little of this, a little of this, a little of this, and then we wrote it down somewhere,” said Fagerlund. 

Another popular drink the two love is their pomegranate martini. 

“We actually started drinking (pomegranate martinis) in Boston, and they have many, many stories, but we’ve brought that with us here,” said Fagerlund. Although many Zestfriendz-goers fear the sweetness of the drink, once they take a sip they’re already ordering the next one. 

Along with cocktails, an eclectic small-plates menu is offered, prepared in the kitchen by Chef Ryan McGovern. His favorite menu item to make is the mussels, flavored with a thai green curry for some heat, and garnished with thai basil, cilantro, and grilled bread.

With many gluten-free and vegetarian options, Zestfriendz wants to be inclusive for everyone, and Fagerlund said that if you take the bread out of most dishes, it’ll be gluten free. 

McGovern has been working as a chef since the late 1990s, and worked in restaurants in Martha’s Vineyard, Florida and throughout the North Shore.

He is looking forward to the new flavors the warmer seasons bring as well. 

“We try to cook and flow with the seasons and what’s available. As spring hopefully comes sooner than later, peas will be around the corner, asparagus, greens hopefully, so you’ll start to see a shift in the menu from heavier comfort food to lighter foods,” McGovern said. 

The owners have a few hopes for the future of their restaurant, one of them being for the bakery. Peterson hopes to one day have dessert cakes in the evenings that customers can stop by to pick up on their way to dinner or for someone’s birthday. They also hope to be able to expand their team and bring in more help.

For those of you interested in opening up your own restaurant, these friends have a few words of advice: “Sleep ahead of time. You probably should be prepared to sleep your whole life ahead of doing it.”

Zestfriendz is located at 286 Humphrey St. in Swampscott. For more information, visit their website at https://www.zestfriendz.com/.

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By Meaghan Casey

Though beach days might be in our rear window until next summer, that doesn’t mean the hunt for the perfect fried clam plate has to come to an end. And with foliage season upon us, there’s no better time to drive up the coast and indulge in some of the top contenders.

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By BILL BROTHERTON

Bill Laganas is on a roll … a lobster roll.

Laganas, Swampscott High Class of 1984, is standing behind his 20-foot custom lobster/clambake trailer, which is parked on Puritan Road in Swampscott, in front of the Atlantic and across the street from where the New Ocean House hotel once stood. He bought it used, from Jasper White, the Summer Shack owner and Jersey boy who’s considered the premier authority on New England food and its history.

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From left, Eva Antaya, Zoe Bannister, and Adeline Massey, all of Swampscott, enjoy frozen yogurt at O-YO Frozen Yogurt.

I scream, you scream, Swampscott screams for ice cream. Let’s face it, no day at the beach is complete without getting at least one scoop of the quintessential summer treat. Whether it’s standard vanilla soft serve swirled neatly into a crispy cone or a decadent sundae piled high with a mound of creamy flavors dripping with hot fudge that is topped with whipped cream and a bright red cherry, there are several sweet storefronts on Humphrey Street where you can indulge in a post-beach frozen treat this ice cream season.

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Karen and Roger Lin are the new owners of Fantasy Island, which reopened in February. 

Yan China Bistro’s owners now operating Fantasy Island

By STACEY MARCUS

When Karen and Roger Lin moved to the United States from Southern China 21 years ago, the young couple worked together at a Chinese restaurant in Arlington. Roger honed his cooking skills in the kitchen while Karen worked in the front of the restaurant learning about operations and customer service. Six years later, they found a spot on Lewis Street in Lynn and opened Yan’s Cafe, a takeout restaurant featuring Chinese and Vietnamese favorites.

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Sometimes there’s nothing better than having your protein, rice and veggies (and everything but the kitchen sink) all wrapped up in one delicious bite. And even though most burritos are often consumed at the same rapid-fire pace they’re constructed, there’s an art to getting that bite right—starting with the careful selection of ingredients and ending with that perfect fold, so that not even a grain of rice escapes. We sampled a few creative combinations at popular spots around town to take the guesswork out of your next order.

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The holidays are a time for indulges. As temperatures drop and gatherings with friends and family members take precedence, calorie-counting is pushed to the back burner. We bake cookies, savor sweets and sip eggnog and hot chocolate. Our cravings tend toward the deliciously rich and drool-worthy. Luckily, even the sweetest of teeth will be satisfied by these dessert options—which can all be enjoyed without ever having to leave the comfort of Humphrey Street.

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