New Bedford Welcomes Back Silmo Syrup Just in Time for the Holidays
No matter how old they may actually be, everyone who stepped into the Kilburn Mill Saturday morning felt like a kid again, once they had a bottle of New Bedford’s most beloved beverage booster in hand.
Silmo Syrup has returned after a two-decade hiatus, and this holiday pop-up event was the first chance city residents had to bring home a bottle or two (or in this writer’s case, six) of the coffee milk syrup that has become the stuff of legend on the SouthCoast.
Ian Abreu, the man who resurrected his family’s Silmo brand, stood proudly nearby as a long line of customers continuously flowed through Kilburn Mill for what will be the first of several planned pop-up events.
“The turnout today was absolutely fantastic, and I was ecstatic to see so many folks from our community come out to help support a brand new small business here in our city,” he said.
Abreu knows a lot about business, and about Silmo. His grandfather, Manny Martin, was one of the owners of the company in the 1970s and ‘80s, and his family retained the Silmo name and recipes when the company shut down in the late 1990s. He also works with small businesses both in his day job with the One SouthCoast Chamber, and in his elected role as president of the New Bedford City Council
Now, though, he’s seeing how it is to be the person running the business, and he called it “the most exciting, non-political thing” he’s ever done in his professional life.
After months of planning and permitting, as well as procuring ingredients, Abreu and his team began producing Silmo Syrup once again in rented kitchen space at The End Zone in New Bedford.
He said Friday on WBSM that while the family-and-friends team has helped him prepare for the pop-ups, it’s not a sustainable way to get it onto store shelves.
‘So we just signed an agreement with a production company for early next year to help with production and bottling,” he said.
For now, though, folks were very excited to get their hands on some Silmo and start mixing up some memories.
“It was the best thing to have on the weekends, watching Saturday morning cartoons, and having Silmo with my cereal and my toast and jam,” said Donna Amado of New Bedford, who grabbed six bottles Saturday morning. “It’s awesome that it’s back, because my kids never had it. It’s going to be their stocking stuffers.”
Jeanne and Richard Bernard of New Bedford both enjoyed Silmo before its original production ended, she growing up with it and he as an adult, having not grown up in the area. They came specifically on Saturday to get some syrup for relatives elsewhere.
“I’m sending them out to cousins that grew up in the area drinking Silmo coffee syrup,” Jeanne said, noting that it will be a holiday surprise. “Some going to Florida, some going to Wisconsin.”
Although she didn’t intend on keeping any for herself, Jeanne thought she “might have a spare,” but did plan to come back to any future pop-ups.
“Support local!” she said.
Nadia Paquette brought her young twin daughters, Clara and Chloe Rebello, and said none of them had ever sampled Silmo before and were looking forward to their first taste.
“I’m not from here, but I knew it was a staple,” she said. “I wanted to come and try it out now that it’s back.”
They bought three bottles, and planned to make classic coffee milk with it, “plus we’ll see whatever goodies we can make with it,” she said.
Earlier this autumn, New Bedford got its first taste of Silmo’s return when it was an ingredient in the “New Beige Coffee Milk No. 2” that was served up at the annual Chowderfest event – but now, once again, Silmo Syrup is back where it belongs on the cabinet shelves of the SouthCoast.
“Today’s pop-up was just one event of what will be many in the future of Silmo Syrup,” Abreu said. “We look forward to more collaborations with our local restaurants, markets, shops and retailers to help spread the word about the best coffee syrup ever made.”