Drew’s Stews and More! Located at 489 Main Street
[Drew’s Stews closed in June of 2023]
Reading, MA — Andrew Maggiore, a Winchester native, is making soup hip after opening his soup store earlier this year on Main Street in Reading with hopes to promote clean and healthy eating in the Greater Boston area.
Maggiore grew up in Medford and Winchester and attended Boston University. After graduation, he lived in the Netherlands for ten years and worked as a translator in Dutch television production and as an intercultural awareness coach. His love for making soup became his “midlife crisis career change,” he said.
During his time abroad, Maggiore became closely acquainted with European farmers’ markets and specialty shops. Maggiore grew up in the 80s and 90s when Twinkies were king, and American grocery stores carried copious amounts of processed foods, so this European style of grocery shopping was new to him. Maggiore took to shopping at markets and specialty shops for local and natural foods and brought the habit back with him to the United States.
After his stepmom was diagnosed with cancer, Maggiore explained that their family came together through food to improve her health and provide ease and comfort through nourishment. Maggiore used what he learned in the Netherlands to strive towards clean food for his stepmom and the rest of their family.
The experience of preparing and eating clean food, which is food free of chemicals and preservatives, changed his outlook on what we should be putting into our bodies.
“We prepare the same food that I would give my own kids,” Maggiore said. “After long days at work, I bring stuff home from the kitchen for them to eat, so they eat the same things that my customers eat; we really care that the food is clean and natural.”
This begs the question: why soup? It may not have a reputation for being something wildly fashionable, but Maggiore believes that soup is a lot more than just being comforting when you’re sick.
“It is cool. It is enjoyable. It’s healthy. It’s easy. It’s everything in one pot,” he said. “You have all the nourishment in one place! It makes people happy and cheers people up”
Drew’s Stews makes all kinds of home-style soups, like the traditional chicken noodle all the way to seafood gumbo, with local products, including Valley View cheeses. Maggiore is developing the concept of the Souprise, “a healthy and savory alternative to fruit on a stick,” that’s a safer option during the pandemic.
Maggiore credits a lot of his foot traffic to people making gift packs for their friends or family or even reaching out to Drew’s Stews to put one together for them.
Maggiore said that he wants to keep money local and support the community through collaboration with other small businesses and local food producers. Through his frequent attendance at farmers’ markets to sell his product, Maggiore has created partnerships with other vendors to sell their locally produced items in his own store.
His goal is to source as many local products as possible, with no aspirations for Drew’s Stews to become a wholesaler.
“I want direct to consumer,” Maggiore said. “I want to be involved in the food-making process. I want to be the face of the business for customers, and I want to keep it local.”
In March 2020, with the help of his husband Jeremy, Maggiore began making soup in a commercial kitchen. While the pandemic has been especially hard on many small businesses, Drew’s Stews became incredibly successful. To Maggiore’s surprise, in their first week of operations, Drew’s Stews filled approximately 45 orders. They were able to operate mostly out of farmers’ markets during the pandemic but also “benefitted from people stuck at home who wanted good quality, all-natural food delivered to their house,” he said.
Julie Meerschwam, Maggiore’s college roommate, loves the idea of a healthy soup shop as a mother.
“As a mom, I can’t do five or three-course meals every night,” she said. “There is something appealing about the idea of having something so simple with such nutritional value.”
Drew’s Stews gets the greatest business from residents of towns with farmers’ markets, including Lexington, Winchester, and Belmont, as well as the biweekly farmers’ market in Wakefield. Maggiore initially made his product last year in a Wakefield restaurant, which he brought to farmers’ markets. He then was able to open his home-base location in Reading in July. Since opening his own store, his Reading customer base has been growing.
The Reading location has received far more foot traffic than Maggiore anticipated, but it is truly something different for Reading. Drew’s Stews is actively working to provide good, clean food in various ways to the Greater Boston community. Drew’s Stews makes the promise to its patrons that their food is clean and healthy.
Maggiore has made huge personal emotional, temporal, and financial investments for the kitchen that he has to make this dream happen. Maggiore speaks very highly of the planning board, business liaison, and other town-run organizations that helped to make his business a success and finds it “great to be here and to contribute to the scene here on Main Street.”
Maggiore’s focus is the people that he serves and reaches out through the “shameless use of [his] childrens’ cuteness to sell product” on Instagram.
Karina Hof, a close friend of Maggiore who met him while he was abroad, sees this business as characteristic of him.
“I believe this new business gives Andrew an excellent outlet to share his extremely personable nature, community-mindedness, and nurturing spirit,” she said.
“Talking to him always puts me in a good mood,” Hof said. “I admire his resolve and industriousness not just at work, but when it comes to standing up for human rights and social equality – which I’ve seen him do on a very local level.”
Meerschwam had also grown with Maggiore through their adulthood and described him as “loud, real, and always says what’s on his mind.”
“He loves interacting with people,” she said. “You are seeing him the way that he is.”
Maggiore does everything in front of him with the same amount of passion and thoughtfulness, including being a father to his kids and a partner to his partner, attending farmers’ markets, and running his business.
He is now enjoying what he does from day to day, since for Maggiore, “a lot of time is wasted in our lives trying to do what’s going to look good.”