WESTERLY — Call it kismet with a quack. Or one honk of a coincidence. How else can you explain three food-related businesses with goose-related names all landing in the same neck of the woods.
“We call it Goose Corner,” said Suzanne Lane with a laugh as she stood outside a small, low, shingled building on Watch Hill Road that houses her shop — the Gray Goose Cookery. The shop, a “one of a kind, independent, regional kitchen store,” sits next door to the Gosling, a specialty shop owned by North Stonington native Rhona Heyl.
Directly across the street sits one of the region’s most popular eateries, the Cooked Goose, owned by the husband-and-wife team of Jennifer Gibson and Andrew Nathan — who also own a second location, the Sea Goose, in Dunns Corners.
“I just joined the flock,” said Heyl, an artist and Realtor with Randall Realtors, who met Lane, and her husband, Bob, on a recent Sunday afternoon.
“We were out for a Sunday drive,” explained Lane, who closed her first Gray Goose Cookery — an institution in Olde Mistick Village — last spring after 30 years in business.
“I said to Bob, ‘Let’s just take a ride to Watch Hill. Maybe we’ll see something we like.’”
“Bob actually saw this building, pointed to it, and said ‘What’s that?’” said Lane. “Then we got to Watch Hill and bumped in to Rhona.”
“And I said, ‘Let me look into it,” added Heyl with a laugh. “Then it all sort of came together.”
Heyl said she contacted Thomas Lockwood of Killingworth, Conn., who had bought the commercially zoned property once known as Cove’s Edge Marina for $1,050,000 last year. She asked if he’d be interested in renting the buildings for shops.
The two free-standing structures sit on more than 26,000 square feet of land and face Watch Hill Road in the front with stunning views of the Pawcatuck River and the surrounding coves in the back. Heyl, who studied international business at the Thunderbird School of Global Management in Arizona, and has always harbored a desire to be a shop owner, was inspired by the location and the opportunity that presented itself.
“I said to Suzanne, ‘Why don’t you take that side, and I’ll take this side,’” said Heyl, who put together a package that was accepted by everyone involved.
“And that’s why we call it kismet,” she said. “We’re all doing the kismet thing.”
Heyl, who lived away from the area for more than 25 years and has traveled “all over the world,” said she is thrilled to be back home and satisfying her heart’s desire — running a shop focused on local artists and local goods.
“I’ve always wanted a market,” said the Wheeler High School and University of Connecticut grad, “and I love local. We’re all about being local … that’s the whole idea.”
The Gosling is chockablock full of items made by people and businesses from the region Heyl calls “SOCO” — Southeastern Connecticut and South County, Rhode Island. Soupy made by Westerly Packing and cheese made by Stonington Cheese company can be found along with large, colorful paintings (David Pruitt is the month’s featured artist and Lisa Szaro has several pieces on display), pillows made by friends, beach toys, jewelry and CDs.
“My sister, Sondra Levine, is a musician,” she said, “I love couture and cuisine, and I can make anything.”
Lane observed, “She’s one smart cookie,” as she walked next door to her cookery store.
Lane said she thought she had retired from being a business owner until the Goose Corner project came together. She is still stocking shelves and unpacking boxes, although from the looks of it, every inch of the 4,000-square-foot shop is full of professional quality cookware, cutlery, bakeware, kitchen appliances, gadgets and gourmet foods. The shop includes such popular brands such as Wusthof, All Clad, Cuisinart, Le Creuset and Krups, and her Stonewall Kitchen delivery will arrive any day now. As she walked through the store, Lane stopped to point out certain items and explain their uses.
“This is a stem gem for hulling strawberries,” she said, holding up a small red and green object, “and this is a corn stripper … it takes the kernels right off.”
“I love this melamine,” said Lane as she picked up what looked to be a clear glass cup and dropped it on the floor — where it bounced. “It doesn’t break.”
“We have every product you need for your patios and boats,” she said. “Everything for entertaining … and for patios, picnics and boats … and for pie-making … people are making tarts and pies.”
The cookery also sells the Ariston line of olive oils from Greece and balsamic vinegars from Italy, and encourages customers to reuse their Ariston bottles.
“They say they’re the best in the country,” said Lane, who lives in Westerly with her family — husband, Bob, and daughter, Sarah — and grew up in Higganum, Conn.
Lane comes “from a family of cooks” and worked at a number of restaurants in New Hampshire between college and graduate school. She said she and her husband also conduct private and custom cooking classes.
“Its fun,” said Lane, who holds a master’s degree in higher education administration from the University of Connecticut. “We want to inspire people to live life well, and food always brings people together.”
Lane and Heyl, who plan to host weekly Friday evening openings with cheese tastings throughout the summer, are also considering organizing a garlic festival in the fall.
For now they’re focusing on their official Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting this Friday, an event they are inviting the public to attend.
“We have plenty of parking,” said Heyl.
Across the street at the Cooked Goose, owner Gibson and Nathan offered a true Mother Goose welcome.
“Welcome to the neighborhood,” they said simply, “and best of luck.”