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Side Dishes: Big Chile Republic, City Market, New Moon

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October has come and gone, but people waiting anxiously for Big Chile Republic's Spanish-Filipino fusion cuisine will have to hang on a little longer. The former delivery biz-turned-restaurant is a work in progress. It's soon to open in the Colchester spot vacated when Junior's moved to new digs.

According to Chef Chris Hechanova, "The major work was finished last week. Things are moving a little faster now." Asked when they'll start making the mojo, Hechanova couldn't nail down a date. "We are pushing to open before December," he says. "We have a couple of parties lined up, so we're going to need to hustle."

. . . Beginning next year, City Market members will get a new perk called a patronage refund. When the co-op's fiscal year ends on June 30, 2008, the financial powers-that-be will begin the process of calculating a sum to be returned to each member. That amount will depend on how much the individual or family has spent at the co-op, and how much members purchased overall.

Explains co-op GM Clem Nilan, "The key point is that the co-op is designed to operate as a nonprofit in relation to sales for members . . . We'll figure out what bills we need to pay with that [money that came from such sales] and what we need for next year. Any profits . . . we proportionally disburse back to the membership."

Why so generous? Business is great. The 2008 patronage refund goes into effect in January, for purchases made the first six months of year. In the future, it will cover the full fiscal year, July through June.

And that's not the only reward for those who buy in. The co-op has a reverse-osmosis water purifier, where members can fill up their bottles for free. "We're trying to reduce the number of bottles going into the waste stream by allowing members access to free water," says Nilan. "It's good water."

. . . New Moon has new hours. The urban-flavored café, which generates money for a religious nonprofit called Isaiah 61, is now open on Saturday night from 7 to 11. But don't go looking for dinner. At night, the sandwiches and salads make way for New Moon's coffee-shop fare, which includes espresso drinks, smoothies and desserts. So far, carrot cake and specialty cheesecakes have been on the menu. Entertainment includes board games such as Scrabble, chess and Chinese checkers, as well as occasional live music.

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