The Rural We: Josephine Proul
After six years as Executive Chef at Local 111 in Philmont, Josephine Proul assumed ownership of the restaurant in late March. A month into running her own restaurant, Proul is working seven days a week, but whether she’s stocking the sparkling water or managing the books, she does it with enthusiasm.
I live and own a home in Craryville, but I’m originally from California. I moved to this area 10 years ago with my mother, who came to work for my uncle’s distributing company. I was going to college but not really having much fun. I started working at restaurants and just always wanted to be there. I had a real knack for it: I could cook, I could crunch numbers and I could see the big picture. So I went to New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier, Vermont and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Culinary Arts before returning to the area to work at Local 111.
Before owning Local 111, I was the chef and managing partner. The owners weren’t originally restaurant people and they had always envisioned Local 111 to be chef-owned. I could see how it worked but I knew there was something I was missing out on — the business aspect of how to sustain the restaurant. Deciding to take over the business was a no-brainer. I’d grown to know everyone from working there for the past six years: the staff, our guests and the farmers. I really liked the challenge of it. I can cook the food, I can execute the service and I can do the finances—I just had to see if I could do all those things at once. I officially took over the business on March 27 and we reopened for service on April 25. In the past month it’s been nice to learn that I’ve been doing things the right way!
I’m a hands-on business owner. We’re closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, but I come in anyway to go through the books or work on expanding our wine program and craft beer offerings. This past winter I went with other Berkshire County chefs to cook at the James Beard House. That’s a huge deal in our industry. Afterwards, I came back to my restaurant feeling proud that my town and my business were acknowledged by this huge organization.This is a little town and I give props to my staff for wanting to be here. We’re not Great Barrington or Hudson, but I’m really happy to be working here and adding to the town’s bustle.
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