We talked to: Wine Witch
We are thrilled to speak with Chef Michaelangelo Westcott, who will be opening a new restaurant in the former Belly of the Beast eatery on Main Street!
How has this past year and a half been for you and your current restaurant, Gypsy Apple Bistro, in Shelburne Falls? And what made you decide to open a new restaurant in Northampton?
This has been the busiest year to date, which is actually kind of crazy given the pandemic and all of the challenges that have come with it. But things just panned out like that for me. When we were able to reopen, people were really excited to come out. Gypsy Apple draws an older crowd, and people just felt safe and comfortable, which was so wonderful after such a difficult time.
During the height of Covid, I actually ended up in the hospital for a month after being bitten by a tick and developing a blood disease which led me to need 18 blood transfusions. It was a tough time and I really wanted to get home to my own space and bed, where I felt I would heal much more quickly and also finally get some much-needed sleep. So although the pandemic was difficult, having to deal with my own health issues and being forced to take some time off really gave me time to reflect. And at this point, I’m healthy and thriving, not to mention, psyched to open the new location with my business partner, David Greeman, whom I’ve known since our Green Street Cafe days together.
I’d always wanted to open a spot in Northampton, but it wasn’t meant to be--until now. And once Aimee and Jesse, dear friends and former owners of Belly of the Beast, let me know they were moving on and that their space would be available, I felt like it was the perfect time to make the dream a reality.
Can you give us a sneak peak of some menu items or types of dishes you might be offering? And perhaps now reveal the name of the restaurant?
The new space will be called Wine Witch, and will be a casual wine bar and eatery. I want every experience to be different from the last, so I’ll be switching things up regularly. I plan to try to have a stationary menu of charcuterie and cheese, but also want things to be seasonal, whimsical, and interesting. I want to make it clear that this will not be the Gypsy Apple 2, but very much its own entity. I’ll have wine and food from all over the world, getting ideas from different cultures and regions. My goal is for people to have an experience every time they walk in--I want them to make this one of their go-to spots downtown for chilling, drinking great wine, and trying new and interesting food! I had ideally aimed to be open by this month, but things don’t always go as planned. Realistically, we should be open by some time in January.
As a business owner, what do you do to unwind/relax/rejuvenate?
I try to find ways not to get burned out, and for me, that includes drinking wine and going antiquing. I’m a natural explorer, and love finding new spots and cool items, from the Berkshires to Connecticut and beyond. I also love dining locally with friends at some of my favorite spots, such as Joe’s Cafe, La Veracruzana, and Bueno Y Sano.
Do you have anything else you are excited about or want to share?
Sure! So in terms of menu items, things will be constantly changing. One day you might have duck, the next you might find fried chicken. I’m envisioning a Champagne and oyster night. I want things to be ever-evolving, creative, and surprising--mixing it up is also fun for me and keeps me on my toes.
I am psyched to have this opportunity. While I could stay with Gypsy Apple for another 10 years and be comfortable and happy with one successful restaurant, I also have the desire for new adventures. Now just feels like the right time to seize the moment and see what evolves.