The longtime executive director of East Boston Main Streets has stepped down to focus on a new venture: a neighborhood Italian market like the ones he remembers from childhood.
Clark Moulaison said by phone Wednesday that he left the organization at the beginning of this year, after a transition period in which it recruited new board members and a new executive director. Stepping into that role is Max Gruner, a Somerville resident originally from Germany, who was introduced to the community at the annual Taste of Eastie event last month, Moulaison said.
“The organization needed a little shot in the arm,” Moulaison said. “I’m stepping back. I’m stepping out of that, but I’ll still be here.”
He said several new board members come from ONEin3 Boston, the city’s engagement program for young adults 20 to 34. The new members are more tech-savvy, he said, and represent the neighborhood’s increasing population of young professionals.
Moulaison, who began volunteering with the Main Streets organization as a local business owner in 1995 and became executive director in 2006, isn’t resting on his laurels. He’s focused on a new venture, Carmella’s Market, at the corner of Cottage and Everett streets, where the previous owner operated the Gloria Food Store for 51 years.
The new market, named for Moulaison’s wife, specializes in cheeses and Italian specialty foods including pastas, tomato sauces, oils, and vinegars. But it also carries staples such as eggs, milk, butter, and produce, he said.
Moulaison was inspired by memories of his childhood, and stories of the neighborhood before he was born, when small Italian markets could be found all over East Boston.
“I’m trying to preserve and bring a little bit of it back,” said Moulaison, who owned an ice cream shop on Sumner Street prior to his years at East Boston Main Streets.
He explained that already he sees customers who are former residents of the neighborhood returned to visit family or friends and happy to see an old-style market in the area. “They come in; they get the cold cuts on Saturdays. It’s nice.”
Moulaison raved about the quality of the cold cuts he is able to offer and said the store’s Italian sub sandwiches have become very popular. He said he is a hands-on business owner who can usually be found in the store any time it is open.
“I’m here most of the time, 8 to 6, Monday through Saturday,” he said. “It’s what I did when I was a kid, so it’s full circle.”