“We’d been open for only five minutes this morning before we sold our first knife,” said Evan Atwell, owner of the new STRATA, a cutlery & whetstone sharpening business at the Black Box containers at 93 Washington Avenue, on Munjoy HIll. “I may have to order more knifes sooner that I planned.” Evan and his wife, Becky Wurwarg, are the latest tenants to occupy one of the five (5) Black Box containers.
The Black Box containers were the brainchild of Jed T. Harris, former owner of the historic and nearby J. J. Nissen Bakery building. They are intended for start-ups who are not ready to invest a large amount of money until they are certain they have worked out all of the kinks and have a viable product to sell in the community.
The couple need not worry about having a viable product to sell in Portland. Most recently, the couple lived in the San Francisco Bay area. “There are parallels between the two areas,” said Evan this afternoon. “One is that there is an active food scene in both places. Evan is not interested in selling in high volume, but prefers to sell to home gourmet cooks as well as chefs at the numerous restaurants in the area. Ben Jackson, chef at the nearby highly-acclaimed Drifter’s Wife, 59 Washington, said he was excited to see this new business. “We won’t have to send our knives to New York to be sharpened now. This business is a great asset to Portland.”
This blogger asked the couple for it’s least expensive knife for non-gourmet home cooking. Evan came up with a knife that cost $43.00 and that comes with one free-sharpening when needed. Although they aren’t in stock yet, Evan expects to be receiving cutlery that retails for about $400. and up in the next several weeks. So far, he sells cutlery from Japan, France and from Maine and New England. One Maine manufacturer of his cutlery is the Grimm Knife Co. of York. Evan acknowledges that it can be a lengthy process to order more product for his storefront. Also for sale are locally produced Fits Well Aprons as an accessory.
The couple met at Oberlin College of which they are both graduates. Becky has a BA in History and works at the Muskie School of Public Service. Evan has a BS in Neuroscience and had planned on pursuing a career in research on Alzheimer’s disease – until he took a U-turn in his career path. The isolation of a research career does not fit his pleasant personality or Becky’s either. Evan has been in the food-related business for seven (7) years and was ready to manage his own business.
“We are the only business like this in New England,” said Evan. A smart business move from an appealing couple.
So far, STRATA is expected to be open as follows: Closed on Tuesday; Wednesday, open from 10:00 am – 6:00 pm; Saturday and Sunday, 11:00 am – 5:00 pm. STRATA refers to the different layers within the stone used to sharpen blades. Please go to: firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
PLease also visit post herein dated January 1, 2019 for more background information on the ‘Black Box containers on Washington Avenue.