Westhampton maple producer kicking off another season amid pandemic

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WESTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP)-Steve and Julie Holt have run their maple syrup operation for 20 years on North Road in Westhampton.

They’ve become reliant on it, to get them through the first half of the year.

“The restaurant is a boost for us in the spring, because I do landscaping and sugaring, so this is what gives gets us started for the season so we aren’t behind the eight ball,” said Steve Holt, Owner of Steve’s Sugar Shack.

They are kicking off another season amid the pandemic, so that means things still can’t be the same.

“Steve’s dream has always been to do this restaurant, but what we bring is a sense of community and every year,” said Julie Holt, who is a hostess at restaurant.

The Holts have always prided themselves at family-style dining, and connecting people at their restaurant.

“A guy in his 60s was siting down and we put people next to him and he found a schoolmate that he hadn’t seen since graduation day and that would not have happened if Steve’s sugar shack was not around,” said Steve Holt.

Steve got the business started by building the original shack right across the street himself. When they put the restaurant in, the crowds kept coming in.

“People would be crowded in that front room shoulder to shoulder,” said Stephanie Holt, Steve’s oldest daughter. “That is something we clearly can’t do this year. With the capacity issues, we can’t go to full.”

To limit the crowds, it’ll be reservation only, on the weekends in March. They’ve tapped most of the trees and have their syrup ready to go. As far as their type of syrup, right now its the amber-rich kind, which they say is right in the sweet spot among syrups. Steve does all the work to make the syrup, but that’s not the best part of his job.

“The greatest thing I do while the restaurant is open, I just stand by the evaporator and I explain the whole process and they just say wow,” said Steve Holt. “I think people are excited about being able to do this on a smaller scale and get that feeling back.”

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