OLD LYME — On Friday afternoon, Chef Shelley DeProto had been working for 18 hours straight, getting ready for the soft opening of Long River Local, a retail food shop at 96 Halls Road located in the little yellow house that was a plant nursery a decade ago.
“We’ll be open from 2 to 5 p.m. on Saturday,” DeProto said, surveying the refrigerators she had been filling with grab-and-go foods. “We have the best chicken soup — what’s included is you can choose matzo balls, rice or egg noodles.”
Coffee, baked goods, retail foods like cheeses and pasta, and prepared foods will be available on Saturday, she said.
Made-to-order foods like sandwiches will be available next week, said DeProto, the former owner of Red Hen in Old Saybrook and Lupo in Chester.
Co-owner Walker Potts, who stood nearby, noted that the sandwiches are named after the owners’ dogs — Murphy, Okie, Dakota and Alfie.
Potts, who owns Long River Farm and will sell his greens in the store, said the shop is working with Rosemary Ostfeld of Health PlanEat, a platform that connects local farmers with local consumers, to bring in local produce and baked goods. Other local vendors will sell syrups, baked goods and produce.
He said he hoped to create a demonstration garden on the grounds with on-site composting where the community could learn about growing food using a model similar to victory gardens in the 1940s.
“It’s about getting people excited and running workshops about composting or seeds or, or bed preparation or soil biology or plant nutrition, whatever it may be, and encourage our communities to grow more,” he said.
Potts said the shop will also sell high-quality non-local foods, he said, because not everything can be grown locally, he said.
“The goal is to have — first — good local food, and if not, then —second — good food,” he said.
Long River Local’s soft opening is Saturday, Jan. 15 from 2 to 5 p.m. The market will be open from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Check the store website for hours.