It started as a joke.
When Talia Glass and her husband moved to Brookline, they found themselves looking for someplace to grab a baguette, cheese, and salad to take on a hike, but they weren’t pleased with their options.
In jest, Glass’s husband told her, “I guess you’re going to have to start the Zingerman’s of Brookline,” referencing a popular Ann Arbor, Michigan, deli where she used to work.
As Glass puts it, “the joke stuck.” She celebrated the debut of Allium Market, a specialty foods market, cafe, and cheese shop in Coolidge Corner, on Wednesday. Glass is the owner and general manager.
The market portion sells artisanal pantry staples, which Glass said are currently 95 percent sourced by her. Shoppers can find everything from products by a pickle maker Glass met while vacationing in Florida to maple syrup made by her front-of-house manager’s neighbor.
Allium’s cafe will not be fully operational until after the holidays, but Glass promised a menu of pastries and “light, vegetable-heavy fare that celebrates seasonality.” This will include salads and toast varieties, such as avocado with radish and herbs, prosciutto with fruit, and housemade vegan spreads. The bread is supplied by Clear Flour Bread, another Brookline establishment.
Then there’s the cheese shop. Allium’s website touts “the largest selection of domestic and imported cheese in the area.”
“Our in-house cheesemonger [Chelsea Germer] has been a cheesemaker, ager, and retailer,” Glass said. “She has put together what I think is one of the best cheese programs I’ve ever seen.”
Tying all three sections of Allium together is its design, which Glass curated to feel warm and inviting.
“I always envisioned a market that felt like a dream pantry,” she said, “someplace that really invites you in and makes you want to explore and look at the products.”
Allium is also the name of a family of purple and green flowering plants that includes garlic, scallions, and leeks. Glass used these colors to accentuate the market’s space, adding an emerald tiled wall and living ceiling above the cafe area.
“One of my hobbies is collecting succulents and other house plants, so we have a living ceiling,” she said. “Even in the harsh New England winter, you can sit under plants.”
Allium’s opening came not without help from the community. Glass held a Kickstarter campaign to acquire the final bit of funding. Benefactors were awarded handwritten notes, tickets to an Allium dinner on Allandale Farm in Chestnut Hill, and other incentives depending on the size of their donation.
“The turnout was huge,” Glass said. “I think it proved that Brookline is ready for a spot like this.”
Allium Market is open Mondays through Fridays from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m..
1330 Beacon St., alliummarket.com