Today we are introducing a mom who recently changed careers to join the family business at a Boxford institution: the former Boxford Community Store, now renamed Boxford Community Kitchen. Keep reading to learn how Kara Merrill, a Boxford mom of 2, navigates working with her husband, Dave, while revamping a 75 year old local business and raising two kids and two dogs!
Where are you from originally and what town do you live in now?
I am actually originally from Boxford as well as live here now. As small worlds go, when I was in high school (Masco) and college, I worked at the Boxford Community Store for my husband’s parents when they were the owners.
How many children do you have and what are their age(s)?
We have 2 kids, Elle, a 7th grader at Masconomet and Jax, a 2nd grader at the H.L. Cole School. I am also a dog-mom to a 2-year-old Goldendoodle, Maisy, who we got as a puppy. Then in August of this year, we adopted her mom, a standard poodle named Paris.
What’s your favorite family activity on the North Shore?
In the summer, I would have to say, going to Crane Beach in Ipswich, as well as Lanes Cove in Gloucester. In the winter, my mom has a pond that we skate on, here in Boxford (weather permitting), and we also try to get over to Bradford for some local skiing.
Where’s your favorite place to eat and/or shop on the North Shore?
We love going up to Newburyport and walking around downtown. When I was a kid, before we moved to Boxford, we lived in Newburyport, so that has always had a special place in my heart. We also like popping down to Marketstreet Lynnfield for a little shopping and dining.
You and your husband are the owners of Boxford Community Kitchen. Tell us a little bit about how you came to own this local institution.
This business has been in my husband’s family since 1946. His great Aunt Jane and Uncle Jack Johnson bought it after the War and it was a Gulf Station and a General Store. In the late 1970’s, Dave’s mom, Jane, took it over along with his Dad, Wayne, and started the transformation into more of a restaurant than a store. In July 2020, Dave and I took it over from Jane and it became the Boxford Community Kitchen. Over the course of the last 6 months, we have done several menu updates, building to our most recent expansion in December, where we really enhanced the dinner options with items such as prime rib, steaks, chops and seafood.
What type of food is Boxford Community Kitchen best known for?
For the longest time, it was known primarily as a breakfast spot. While we still serve a delicious breakfast, I think we are now getting to be more well known for our lunch and dinner offerings. In the last couple of months, our dinner service has really grown. Our menu is likely to be called “all American” or maybe comfort food with a little bit of everything! We have delicious salads, pizza & calzones, subs, sandwiches & clubs, kitchen steakhouse specials, and even some yummy Asian options!
Do you deliver? If yes, what towns?
Yes, we do delivery to Boxford and we are starting to deliver to the neighboring towns of Topsfield, North Andover and Georgetown. We do not deliver to all areas of the neighboring towns, but the portions that are nearest to Boxford. Boxford itself is so large geographically that it is a challenge.
What’s your personal favorite menu item?
My LONGTIME favorite is the Mexican Omelet with our delicious multigrain toast. I do love breakfast! But these days, I LOVE the Greek Bowl or the Cobb Salad. My husband’s fav item is his creation – the Boxford Bowl! We are excited that later this year we will be adding beer and wine to our menu too! We are currently working with the Town of Boxford to navigate the application process.
What’s your favorite part about working with your husband? What would you say his favorite thing about working with you is?
I just left my corporate job of 22 years on December 31, 2020, so really working together is fairly new! Since we took over in July, I have been working many nights after my, “day job,” but now I am here full time. Dave and I really compliment each other in our skill sets and what we bring to the business, but on the most important areas of family and finances we think alike. From March of 2020, until the end of this past year, we were like ships passing in the night. We were both working so much that we barely saw each other. I think we would both say now that it is just nice to be near each other again. He also says that it is great that we get to share the experience of running a business together.
How can local moms support Boxford Community Kitchen during the pandemic?
We are so appreciative of support that comes in many forms. Of course, we would love to see local moms stopping by for breakfast, lunch or dinner and either picking up to take home or dining in. Another HUGE way to support us is via social media. Following our accounts on Facebook @BoxfordCommunityKitchen and Instagram @boxfordcommunitykitchen and liking and commenting on our posts and reacting to our stories. And finally, referrals! Personal recommendations from friend to friend go so far! If you have a meal from us and love it – tell a friend to try us out!
Any tips for balancing work & motherhood?
No, but I would love to hear some! Just kidding…there is no secret sauce here, but I do believe that carving out some time to take care of yourself makes for a MUCH better mom and wife. Even just a few minutes a day to move your body, drink that water or wash your face goes a long way. Our kids are our world–they are the reason we do what we do!
What is the best piece of mom advice you ever received?
Teach your kids to do chores/help around the house. It’s good for them and it’s good for you! All age appropriate, but my kids make their own beds, sort/do their own laundry, help with the dishes, help with the dogs, etc. When you run a 2-parent working household, it takes everyone pitching in to make it all work!
What’s your favorite thing to do when you need some “me” time?
Ride my Peloton!!! We got ours RIGHT at the beginning of the pandemic before the wait times were insane. I seriously LOVE the music, the uplifting trainers and how I feel after a ride.
Visit Boxford Community Kitchen at 7 Elm Street in Boxford or place your order online for delivery (towns are limited) or pickup.