Rene Becker opened Hi-Rise in 1996 with a crew of six, big ideas, and a simple goal: to make staple homey foods better than home-made. He started with bread — using organic wheat, rye, and corn from independent mills — and soon moved to pastries, encorporating extra-rich European-style butter and local fruits for pies and tarts. Naturally, soups and sandwiches came next utilizing the same philosophy of house made and hand selected ingredients.
The trend continued over the years and now Hi-Rise has a long list of products made daily including breads, cakes, cookies, granola, preserves, and crackers. Along with a wide variety of sandwiches, Hi-rise offers dinners sold fresh and frozen, from pot pies and stews to lasagnas with house-made pasta.
Hi-Rise remains faithful to the goal of making simple food very well. Now it’s very much a family business, comprised of Rene, his spouse Cynthia, and their daughter Lucie, all of whom are seen most days at Hi-Rise or around the Observatory Hill neighborhood where they live.
From day one, Hi-Rise has exclusively used organic whole wheat, rye, and corn from small and independent mills and most of the white flour used is organic. We use some flour from King Arthur Milling, which is unbleached and unbromated. In all cases, the flour is chosen or milled to our specifications, for flavor and character.
Try a loaf of Hi-Rise challah, which is made with eggs from cage-free hens in New Hampshire and wildflower honey from Massachusetts. Look for our special breads around the holidays, including panettone, stollen, Irish soda bread, and panforte.
Our guiding principle for pastries is “more butter” — a richness you can taste and feel. We exclusively use European-style Plugra butter which has a much higher butterfat content than even AA grade butter. We use a variety of European chocolates, including Valrhona and Callebaut. Our pastries are noticeably less sweet than at other shops, which compliments the high quality butter and creates the perfect balance.
When it comes to fruit, we go with the best. Our “mile-high” apple pies always have at least three different varieties of apples, which change with the apple season in Massachusetts from September to November. The Blenheim apricots we use in our jam-filled brioche come exclusively from an organic orchard in California. And we are extremely proud of our blueberry scones and quick breads chock-full of native berries.
The Hi-Rise wine selection is curated by owner Rene Becker, who has been involved in the wine trade for more than 30 years. Rene travels and tastes constantly. The wines on the rack and in the bins are ready to be enjoyed now. In that respect the Hi-Rise selection is more like a restaurant wine list than a normal package store. Of course, Hi-Rise wines are much less expensive than they would be at a restaurant. In fact Rene takes care to offer wines that represent especially good value. Hi-Rise also offers an equally well-curated selection of whiskeys, gins, and rum, along with other interesting liqueurs including a variety of amaros.