Brewhaha settles into new West End Market location
After 18 years as a staple of the city's downtown, Brewhaha has completed its long-planned move west.
The cafe opened in the former West End Market on West Main Street this month, more than a decade after owners Barry and Nancy Garton purchased the iconic West End Market building at a foreclosure auction.
"I went to the auction, and somehow my hand went up to buy it, and I don't know what I was thinking," Barry Garton said.
At the time — 2006 — business was booming at the Marshall Street location.
"We thought we should have our own building and we wanted more space," he said. "I didn't have any plan or any money but I thought, `OK, let's see if we can do this.'"
Garton, who has operated Brewhaha with his wife, Nancy, on Marshall Street since 2000, had no idea how much work lay ahead.
"I was so naive," Barry said.
The restaurant's kitchen, twice the size of that at its previous space, was built up from scratch. The building received new handicapped-accessible bathrooms, new windows, new siding and a host of other upgrades.
"The whole thing was just totally rehabbed," Garton said.
The Gartons are no strangers to bringing an old space back to life. In 1989, they restored the Miss Adams Diner, and operated it for eight years before selling it and, within a few years, launching Brewhaha.
With recent development in the city trending westward — Greylock Works, the Tourists hotel and the Norad Mill, for example — the "timing was just right" to make the move now, he said. The cafe was closed for 10 weeks as the finishing touches were applied to the new space and everything was brought up to meet the fire code.
Customers have flocked to the new space, which is about twice as large as the Marshall Street cafe, since the Brewhaha opened its doors on West Main Street with a familiar menu of breakfast and lunch.
Though Brewhaha is on a busy thoroughfare, parking has not deterred customers, who have the option of parking in the restaurant's lot — Garton estimates it fits about 10 cars — or on their side of West Main Street.
Garton has put in 17-hour days just to keep up with the demand, he said. The restaurant has just hired a fourth full-time employee and plans to hire a couple of additional part-time staffers.
But Garton can see a future, perhaps soon, where he is no longer working six says a week at the restaurant.
"The excitement of setting it up and getting it to this point was all there was to it, in a sense. Now that it's working, I want somebody else to just take it and run with it," he said. "I would not be surprised if we get it on the market soon."
Garton added that he'd like to work with someone to pass on the restaurant into their hands.
"I may change my mind as time goes by, it's just been a really difficult process to get it open," he said.
Adam Shanks can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, at @EagleAdamShanks on Twitter, or 413-629-4517.
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